The New York Times published the piece, "You Now Get Almost Nothing for Your Money, but It Could Be Worse," which tells us, "In this crisis, money is priceless, yet banks and money market funds will pay you close to zero in interest for years. That's if everything turns out well." Columnist Jeff Sommer writes, "Having enough cash on hand to pay the bills is always a good idea. But in an economic crisis like this one, with millions unemployed and thousands of businesses in trouble, it's more desirable than ever. Plenty of people don't have a stash of cash. But for those fortunate enough to have salted away some extra money, a pressing question is: Where should you keep it? The standard answer is somewhere safe, like a bank or a money market fund. But don't expect much in return." The article quotes our Peter Crane, "Investors like to say 'cash is king,' ... In the coronavirus crisis, I'd say, cash is bigger than that; it's the emperor of all things. If you ever doubted whether you needed some emergency savings, you probably believe it now." Sommer comments, "I spoke with Mr. Crane a decade ago, in the aftermath of the great financial crisis of 2007 to 2009, about the extraordinarily low yields on money market funds. Those rock-bottom, near-zero rates were expected to be temporary but they lasted for years. Now, he said: 'We're right back where we were then. The economy is in trouble, the Fed has responded and money market funds are paying almost nothing.'" The piece adds, "What's more, many fund companies are already waiving fees. If they didn't, money market yields would be plunging below zero -- in effect, into negative territory. In that event, investors would be paying fund companies for the privilege of holding their money, an absurdity that major mutual funds generally want to avoid." They quote T. Rowe Price's Joseph Lynagh, "That wouldn’t be attractive to investors, to say the least." Finally, the Times tells us, "But he [Lynagh] expects that the company will swallow those deficits and won't let its money market yields fall below zero, just as it didn't during the long period of near-zero short-term rates from 2008 to 2015. The Fed says it intends to avoid negative rates if it can, and so will the money market funds. After all, money market funds are a competitive $5.2 trillion business, Mr. Crane said. Deep-pocketed companies like T. Rowe Price, Vanguard, Fidelity, BlackRock and others are playing a long game. 'Even if they are technically entitled to charge investors -- or recoup waived fees later -- they generally don't want to do it,' he said. 'It would hurt their reputation too much.'"

Email This Article




Use a comma or a semicolon to separate

captcha image