When selecting a fund, you’ll want to make sure you can make the minimum investment size. It’s also important to understand the investments within the money market fund to make sure you’re comfortable with the underlying investments. Remember that when it comes to any kind of investment, past performance is NOT an indicator for future performance. Just as with any other investment, you’ll want to research carefully before making a decision.
In 1998, Wei Dai published a description of "b-money", characterized as an anonymous, distributed electronic cash system. Shortly thereafter, Nick Szabo described bit gold. Like bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that would follow it, bit gold (not to be confused with the later gold-based exchange, BitGold) was described as an electronic currency system which required users to complete a proof of work function with solutions being cryptographically put together and published. A currency system based on a reusable proof of work was later created by Hal Finney who followed the work of Dai and Szabo.
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Mutual funds offer baskets of these products to individual investors. The net asset value (NAV) of such funds is intended to stay at $1. During the 2008 financial crisis, one fund fell below that level. That triggered market panic and a mass exodus from the funds, which ultimately led to additional restrictions on their access to riskier investments.
As the SEC was gridlocked, the Financial Stability Oversight Council promulgated its own suggested money market reforms and threatens to move forward if the SEC doesn’t button it up with an acceptable solution of their own on a timely basis. The SEC has argued vociferously that this is "their area" and FSOC should back off and let them handle it, a viewpoint shared by four former SEC Chairmen Roderick Hills, David Ruder, Richard Breeden, and Harvey Pitt, and two former commissioners Roel Campos and Paul S. Atkins.
Cryptocurrencies hold the promise of making it easier to transfer funds directly between two parties in a transaction, without the need for a trusted third party such as a bank or credit card company; these transfers are facilitated through the use of public keys and private keys for security purposes. In modern cryptocurrency systems, a user's "wallet," or account address, has the public key, and the private key is used to sign transactions. Fund transfers are done with minimal processing fees, allowing users to avoid the steep fees charged by most banks and financial institutions for wire transfers.
The monetary policies of the Federal Reserve Bank during the 2010s led to the short-term interest rates—the rates banks pay to borrow money from one another—hovering around zero percent. The near zero rates meant money market fund investors saw returns significantly lower, compared to those in the prior decades. Further, with the tightening of regulations after the 2008 financial crisis, the number of investable securities grew smaller.
On the borrowing end, after 10–20 years, the S&P 500 corporations become extremely accustomed to obtaining funds via these money markets, which are very stable. Initially, perhaps they only borrowed in these markets for a highly seasonal cash needs, being a net borrower for only say 90 days per year. They would borrow here as they experienced their deepest cash needs over an operating cycle to temporarily finance short-term build ups in inventory and receivables. Or, they moved to this funding market from a former bank revolving line of credit, that was guaranteed to be available to them as they needed it, but had to be cleaned up to a zero balance for at least 60 days out of the year. In these situations the corporations had sufficient other equity and debt financing for all of their regular capital needs. They were however dependent on these sources to be available to them, as needed, on an immediate daily basis.
This is a bank run in the sense that there is a mismatch in maturities, and thus a money fund is a "virtual bank": the assets of money funds, while short term, nonetheless typically have maturities of several months, while investors can request redemption at any time, without waiting for obligations to come due. Thus if there is a sudden demand for redemptions, the assets may be liquidated in a fire sale, depressing their sale price.
From the outset, money market funds fell under the jurisdiction of the SEC as they appeared to be more like investments (most similar to traditional stocks and bonds) vs. deposits and loans (cash and cash equivalents the domain of the bankers). Although money market funds are quite close to and are often accounted for as cash equivalents their main regulator, the SEC, has zero mandate to control the supply of money, limit the overall extension of credit, mitigate against boom and bust cycles, etc. The SEC’s focus remains on adequate disclosure of risk, and honesty and integrity in financial reporting and trading markets. After adequate disclosure, the SEC adopts a hands off, let the buyer beware attitude.
On 21 November 2017, the Tether cryptocurrency announced they were hacked, losing $31 million in USDT from their primary wallet. The company has 'tagged' the stolen currency, hoping to 'lock' them in the hacker's wallet (making them unspendable). Tether indicates that it is building a new core for its primary wallet in response to the attack in order to prevent the stolen coins from being used.
What to watch for: The Platinum Savings Account does have check-writing privileges. But there is a cost to ordering checks. Also, the account has a special interest rate that lasts for 12 months. This bonus APY equals to 1.95 percent APY. But the standard yield is 0.05 percent APY and will double to 0.1 percent APY for those who have their platinum savings linked to a Portfolio by Wells Fargo relationship.
Bitcoin is pseudonymous rather than anonymous in that the cryptocurrency within a wallet is not tied to people, but rather to one or more specific keys (or "addresses"). Thereby, bitcoin owners are not identifiable, but all transactions are publicly available in the blockchain. Still, cryptocurrency exchanges are often required by law to collect the personal information of their users.
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While they sound highly similar, a money market fund is not the same as a money market account (MMA). The former is an investment, sponsored by an investment fund company, and hence carries no guarantee of principal. The latter is an interest-earning saving account offered by financial institutions, with limited transaction privileges and insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
There are several money market instruments in most Western countries, including treasury bills, commercial paper, bankers' acceptances, deposits, certificates of deposit, bills of exchange, repurchase agreements, federal funds, and short-lived mortgage- and asset-backed securities. The instruments bear differing maturities, currencies, credit risks, and structure and thus may be used to distribute exposure.
Cryptocurrencies have been compared to Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes and economic bubbles, such as housing market bubbles. Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital Management stated in 2017 that digital currencies were "nothing but an unfounded fad (or perhaps even a pyramid scheme), based on a willingness to ascribe value to something that has little or none beyond what people will pay for it", and compared them to the tulip mania (1637), South Sea Bubble (1720), and dot-com bubble (1999). The New Yorker has explained the debate based on interviews with blockchain founders in an article about the “argument over whether Bitcoin, Ethereum, and the blockchain are transforming the world”.
In 2008, following the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, the venerable Reserve Primary Fund broke the buck: It held millions of Lehman's debt obligations, and panicked redemptions by its investors caused its NAV to fall to 97 cents per share. The pullout of money caused the Reserve Primary Fund to close and triggered mayhem throughout the money markets.
The proof-of-stake is a method of securing a cryptocurrency network and achieving distributed consensus through requesting users to show ownership of a certain amount of currency. It is different from proof-of-work systems that run difficult hashing algorithms to validate electronic transactions. The scheme is largely dependent on the coin, and there's currently no standard form of it. Some cryptocurrencies use a combined proof-of-work/proof-of-stake scheme.
Government Normally at least 99.5% of the fund’s total assets are invested in cash, U.S. government securities and/or repurchase agreements that are collateralized fully (i.e., collateralized by cash or government securities)—including at least 80% in U.S. government securities and repurchase agreements for those securities. Certain issuers of U.S. government securities (e.g., “Government-Sponsored Enterprises” such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks) are sponsored or chartered by Congress, but their securities are neither issued by nor guaranteed by the U.S. Treasury.