A money market fund is a type of fixed income mutual fund with very stringent maturity, credit quality, diversification, and liquidity requirements intended to help it achieve its goals of principal preservation and daily access for investors. Customers should determine when picking a money market fund that its characteristics align with their investment objectives and strategy.
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The best money market accounts have low or no minimum balance requirements. And if they do have higher balance requirements, the best money market accounts reward you for keeping this balance. The balance requirement doesn’t really matter, as long as it’s within what you plan on keeping in the account so that you earn a maximum APY and don’t incur fees.
The U.S. government issues Treasury bills in the money market, with maturities that range from a few days to one year. Primary dealers buy them in large amounts directly from the government to trade between themselves or to sell to individual investors. Individual investors can buy them directly from the government through its TreasuryDirect website or through a bank or a broker. State, county, and municipal governments also issue short-term notes.
The SEC reports that the popularity of and investments in money market funds has grown significantly and they currently hold about US$3 trillion in assets. They have become one of the core pillars of the present-day capital markets as they offer investors a diversified, professionally managed portfolio with high daily liquidity. Many investors use money market funds as a place to "park their cash" until they decide on other investments, or for funding needs that may arise in the short term.
At Bankrate, we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. We follow strict guidelines to ensure that our editorial content is not influenced by advertisers. Our editorial team receives no direct compensation from advertisers, and our content is thoroughly fact-checked to ensure accuracy. The top banks listed below are based on factors such as annual percentage yield (APY), minimum balance requirements and broad availability.
In the wake of the crisis two solutions have been proposed. One, repeatedly supported over the long term by the GAO and others is to consolidate the U.S. financial industry regulators. A step along this line has been the creation of the Financial Stability Oversight Council to address systemic risk issues that have in the past, as amply illustrated by the money market fund crisis above, fallen neatly between the cracks of the standing isolated financial regulators. Proposals to merge the SEC and CFTC have also been made.
If this sounds similar to banks’ high-yield savings accounts or money market accounts, it is. The largest difference lies in the ability for yields on money market mutual funds to rise proportionately with interest rates. For example, as interest rates have risen, the yields on most bank money market accounts (which are set by the banks themselves) have stayed relatively flat, while money market mutual fund yields have increased.