CLOs Revisited – Ratings, Risks, and Returns (First of a Series)

“Anytime loan market technicals shift, there’s always a view that CLOs are the end of Western civilization as we know it.”

So a top CLO manager related his experience over several decades. Regardless of actual historical performance, collateralized loan obligations are periodically hauled out by the media, excoriated for reckless behavior, and dismissed as just another unfortunate feature of “risky loans.”

As a corrective, we ran a series of articles in 2014 (“Why CLOs Matter”), and converted to a white paper [link]. Besides serving as a primer on these securitized vehicles, it examined their supply and demand equation and the way CLOs have adapted to changing market conditions over their history. We also looked at the value of middle market CLOs relative to broadly syndicated CLOs.

Most importantly, we provided a level-headed assessment of these vehicles’ remarkable track record over many business cycles. Not only as institutional investments across the capital stack, but also as the fundamental building blocks for a $1.2 trillion universe of buyout loan financings.