Bryn Mawr Trust Co.管理着14亿美元固定收益资产，该公司投资经理兼交易员玛丽•塔尔伯特说，她认购了约150万美元的威瑞森债券，但都没有中签。玛丽表示，自己对较大的基金拿到较多的债券没有任何异议，因为这就是资本市场的运作方式。
平均而言，从发行到纳入巴克莱综合债券指数（Barclays Aggregate Bond index），新发行债券的价格涨幅比同类现有债券高0.14个百分点，把这些债券纳入这个指数的时间都是在它们上市当月的最后一天。此外，超过一半的价格增长都出现在第一天。也就是说，许多没有中签的投资者都非常愿意用超过初始发行价的水平购买这些债券。研究咨询及资产管理机构TF Market Advisors创始人彼得•切尔看来也进行过类似的研究，而且得出了类似的结论。
Wall Street may have a new debt problem.
Late last week, Goldman Sachs (GS) disclosed that regulators are probing how it allocates and trades bonds. Citigroup (C) is reportedly in regulators' crosshairs as well, along with the rest of Wall Street. At issue is how banks decide who gets to buy into bonds when they are initially offered.
Take last year's massive Verizon deal (VZ). Wall Street dealers received orders for $100 billion in bonds. Verizon sold $49 billion, with about a quarter of that debt going to two firms, bond-fund behemoths BlackRock (BLK) and Pimco. Understandably, some feathers were ruffled. And this appears to be what the Securities and Exchange Commission and potentially other regulators are looking into.
But is this really a job for regulators? It's not surprising that a good chunk of a hot deal would go to Wall Street's two bond powerhouses. Their size means they pay a large percentage of Wall Street's commission. And even some of those unfairly treated managers seem to accept the situation:
Mary Talbutt, portfolio manager and trader at Bryn Mawr Trust Co., which oversees about $1.4 billion in fixed-income assets, said she put in an order for about $1.5 million of Verizon bonds but didn't receive any. She said she didn't really have a problem that larger funds got more bonds, noting that is just how capital markets work.
"I've been doing this for so long that you just kind of get used to it," she said.
But there could be something else at play here.
Most bond deals start with the distribution of an offering document, which includes info about the selling company and a credit rating. Bankers then call up or e-mail bond managers, like BlackRock or Pimco, and ask them how much they would buy and what they would pay (or what yield they are looking to get). Underwriters then use that information to determine how to price the deal, you would assume at the lowest interest rate they can get that will allow them to place all the debt that the company is hoping to raise.
The problem, as you may have suspected by now, is that it doesn't go down that way. Two years ago, Barclays' credit research team, headed by Jeff Meli, took a look at investment grade corporate bond offerings and found that, like IPOs, bond deals tend to have pops. On average, the price of a newly issued bond rises 0.14 percentage points more than similar existing bonds between the time it is first sold to when it's added to the Barclays Aggregate Bond index, which happens on the last day of the month in which the deal came to market. What's more, more than half of the price increase happens on the first day. That means there are a whole bunch of investors not getting a piece of bond deals that would be more than willing to pay more than the initial asking price. Peter Tchir at TF Market Advisors appears to have done some similar research getting similar results.
A bond manager who is able to get in on every new issue could expect to outperform his rivals by 1.05 percentage points, the Barclays authors assert. Considering the average yield in the corporate bond market is around 3% these days, that advantage is sizable. All of this suggests that Wall Street is paying off one client with money from another. Corporations sold $1.1 trillion in investment grade bond deals in 2013. That means bond investors who got first access to these deals pocketed nearly $12 billion that could have stayed in the accounts of borrowers, creating a pot of money that potentially Wall Street is rationing out to its best customers presumably in return for more trades later.