Some mutual funds specialize in investing in stocks, some in bonds, some in real estate, some in gold. The list practically goes on and on with mutual funds organized for nearly every type of investing strategy or niche you can imagine. There are even funds designed for people who only want to own dividend stocks in the S&P 500 that have increased the dividend every year for the past 25 years! It is safe to say that there is a mutual fund for almost any niche or investing objective you may wish to achieve.
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.
What to watch for: The 2.15 percent APY on its money market account is attractive, but it's only an introductory rate. After a year, your rate drops according to your balance, with balances of $100,000 to $10 million earning the highest yields, at 2 percent APY. The ongoing yield for balances under $10,000 is 1.1 percent APY and 1.2 percent APY on balances between $10,000 and $24,999.99. Balances between $50,000 and $99,999.99 earn 1.75 percent APY.
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.
One example might be when you have saved up a down payment for your first home and are simply waiting to find the perfect house. The stock market might be too risky since you want to buy the house soon and market volatility could eat up some of your investment. Yet the balance is large enough that you don’t want to miss out on earning interest by just having it sit in a conventional saving, or worse, checking account.
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.
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.
The legal status of cryptocurrencies varies substantially from country to country and is still undefined or changing in many of them. While some countries have explicitly allowed their use and trade, others have banned or restricted it. According to the Library of Congress, an "absolute ban" on trading or using cryptocurrencies applies in eight countries: Algeria, Bolivia, Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, Nepal, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates. An "implicit ban" applies in another 15 countries, which include Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Iran, Kuwait, Lesotho, Lithuania, Macau, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan. In the United States and Canada, state and provincial securities regulators, coordinated through the North American Securities Administrators Association, are investigating "bitcoin scams" and ICOs in 40 jurisdictions.
Generally, your money is protected and backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government if it’s within FDIC guidelines at a bank insured by the FDIC or at an NCUA credit union, which has the NCUSIF to insure accounts. But if you have money over the FDIC limit or funds that exceed the NCUSIF insurance limits, you could lose money if that financial institution fails. Both the FDIC and NCUA offer estimators to help you estimate whether your bank or credit union balances may be covered. Always double-check with the FDIC or NCUA and your financial institutions to confirm insurance coverage. You could lose money in a money market account if you don’t report an unauthorized transaction in a timely fashion. Generally, you have a window of 60 days after your statement was sent to tell your bank.
An active investor who has time and knowledge to hunt around for the best possible short-term debt instruments offering the best possible interest rates at their preferred levels of risk may prefer investing on their own in the various available instruments. On the other hand, a less-savvy investor may prefer taking the money market fund route by delegating the money management task to the fund operators.
The first money market mutual fund to break the buck was First Multifund for Daily Income (FMDI) in 1978, liquidating and restating NAV at 94 cents per share. An argument has been made that FMDI was not technically a money market fund as at the time of liquidation the average maturity of securities in its portfolio exceeded two years. However, prospective investors were informed that FMDI would invest "solely in Short-Term (30-90 days) MONEY MARKET obligations". Furthermore, the rule restricting which the maturities which money market funds are permitted to invest in, Rule 2a-7 of the Investment Company Act of 1940, was not promulgated until 1983. Prior to the adoption of this rule, a mutual fund had to do little other than present itself as a money market fund, which FMDI did. Seeking higher yield, FMDI had purchased increasingly longer maturity securities, and rising interest rates negatively impacted the value of its portfolio. In order to meet increasing redemptions, the fund was forced to sell a certificate of deposit at a 3% loss, triggering a restatement of its NAV and the first instance of a money market fund "breaking the buck".