LITTLE ROCK — Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan earned the state $13.18 million during the first quarter of fiscal 2022, which ran from July 1 through Sept. 30. The gains were nearly double what they were during the same quarter in FY 2021, while interest rates and 10-year Treasury rates remained stagnant.
“We’ve been able to produce small, steady gains over the course of the last fiscal year,” Milligan told the State Board of Finance today. The Board, made up of elected and appointed members of the banking and finance industry, is chaired by the governor. “My team’s diligent work in analyzing the fixed-income market daily – making strategic calls to better the portfolio – contributed significantly to our total returns in the first quarter.”
The State Treasury operates solely in the fixed-income, or bond, market. The 10-year Treasury yield curve is the main indicator for how that market will perform financially.
The state’s long-term portfolio, which is made up mostly of mortgage-backed securities, agency bonds and collateralized mortgage obligations, earned $12.5 million dollars during the first quarter of FY 22, compared to $5.75 million for the same quarter a year ago.
“We’ve continued to see slight improvements each quarter. That is due to our persistence in finding small yet significant pockets in the market that make sense for us to invest in, while still maintaining a conservative investment structure,” Milligan told the Board.
The state’s short-term portfolio, made up of commercial paper, demand and money market accounts, earned $615,000 for the first quarter of FY 22, compared to about $1 million during the same quarter a year ago.
“This portion of our portfolio continues to be affected by low interest rates, which has made it a struggle to produce strong yields,” Milligan said.
When Covid first hit the United States, the Federal Reserve began buying billions of dollars’ worth of bonds in an effort to keep the nation’s economy moving. Earlier this month, the Fed announced it will begin tapering its weekly bond purchasing, which has been welcome news for investors. However, rising inflation is another variable that could affect how the State Treasury positions its $5 billion portfolio in the future, Milligan told the Board.
“While the Fed maintains that the inflation rates we’re seeing are transitory, that remains to be seen,” Milligan said. “In the meantime, we’ll continue to monitor the market closely and respond with calculated, carefully-planned decisions in order to protect the integrity of the portfolio while earning the state as much as we are able.”