Private Debt: Search for Transparency (Third of a Series)

Coney Island was the scene last Thursday of Nathan’s Annual July Fourth hot dog eating contest. For the 12th time in 13 years the men’s champion was Joey “Jaws” Chestnut. He downed 71 franks and buns – not his personal best, but far ahead of the second-place finisher (50). The top woman, Miki Sudo (31), also was a repeat winner.

“I don’t know how they went down,” said one amazed onlooker of Mr. Chestnut’s effort. “He crushed it.”

Not everyone relishes filling up on foot-longs, but observers may compare it to the relentess appetite for yield in the credit markets. That search drives the need for the same transparency in direct loans as is inherent in asset classes with which they compare most closely; namely, broadly syndicated loans and high yield bonds.

This lack of clear data and liquidity brings an expectation of higher returns, the so-called illiquidity premium. But even accounting for this difference, direct loans provide strong relative returns.