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.
Markets are dirty. But this doesn‘t change the fact that cryptocurrencies are here to stay – and here to change the world. This is already happening. People all over the world buy Bitcoin to protect themselves against the devaluation of their national currency. Mostly in Asia, a vivid market for Bitcoin remittance has emerged, and the Bitcoin using darknets of cybercrime are flourishing. More and more companies discover the power of Smart Contracts or token on Ethereum, the first real-world application of blockchain technologies emerge.
A money market mutual fund, often referred to as a ‘money market fund’, is a low-risk investment with the goal of earning interest while still providing liquidity. Money market funds were developed in the 1970s before bank money market accounts were allowed. A money market fund is typically invested in short-term high-quality debt products, making it less risky than a mutual fund invested in stocks or longer term bonds.
To many retail investors, money market funds are confusingly similar to traditional bank demand deposits. Virtually all large money market funds offer check writing, ACH transfers, wiring of funds, associated debit and credit cards, detailed monthly statements of all cash transactions, copies of canceled checks, etc. This makes it appear that cash is actually in the individual’s account. With net asset values reported flat at $1.00, despite the market value variance of the actual underlying assets, an impression of rock solid stability is maintained. To help maintain this impression, money market fund managers frequently forgo being reimbursed legitimate fund expenses, or cut their management fee, on an ad hoc and informal basis, to maintain that solid appearance of stability.
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 crisis, which eventually became the catalyst for the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, almost developed into a run on money funds: the redemptions caused a drop in demand for commercial paper, preventing companies from rolling over their short-term debt, potentially causing an acute liquidity crisis: if companies cannot issue new debt to repay maturing debt, and do not have cash on hand to pay it back, they will default on their obligations, and may have to file for bankruptcy. Thus there was concern that the run could cause extensive bankruptcies, a debt deflation spiral, and serious damage to the real economy, as in the Great Depression.
Depending on a jurisdiction you live in, once you’ve made a profit or a loss investing in cryptocurrencies, you might need to include it in your tax report. In terms of taxation, cryptocurrencies are treated very differently from country to country. In the US, the Internal Revenue Service ruled that Bitcoins and other digital currencies are to be taxed as property, not currency. For investors, this means that accrued long-term gains and losses from cryptocurrency trading are taxed at each investor’s applicable capital gains rate, which stands at a maximum of 15 percent.
All of those factors make mining cryptocurrencies an extremely competitive arms race that rewards early adopters. However, depending on where you live, profits made from mining can be subject to taxation and Money Transmitting regulations. In the US, the FinCEN has issued a guidance, according to which mining of cryptocurrencies and exchanging them for flat currencies may be considered money transmitting. This means that miners might need to comply with special laws and regulations dealing with this type of activities.
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.
Many people believe that cryptocurrencies are the hottest investment opportunity currently available. Indeed, there are many stories of people becoming millionaires through their Bitcoin investments. Bitcoin is the most recognizable digital currency to date, and just last year one BTC was valued at $800. In November 2017, the price of one Bitcoin exceeded $7,000.
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.