ETFs to Substitute Low-Yield Money Market Funds | ETF Trends

With overnight rates at historic lows, people have not been getting much out of their money market funds. Alternatively, investors seeking a cash alternative can turn to ultra-short-term bond exchange traded funds.

According to Lipper data, there is about $2.7 trillion in U.S. money market funds, down from $3.8 trillion at the end of 2008 after the average 12-month yield on money markets fell from 2.27% to 0.02%, reports Bryan Borzykowski for CNBC.

These funds are seen as liquid cash alternatives that would never let an investor lose money – money market funds typically maintain a net asset value or per share value of $1. These funds hold investment-grade short-term government bonds that matures between 30 and 90 days. But if rates go negative, some are concerned that a low rate environment could “break the buck.”

Since the 2008 financial crisis when the share price of one fund dipped below a dollar and triggered widespread financial panic, these money market funds now follow more stringent regulatory rules, like taking on less credit risk or holding more cash to meet redemptions.

With money market funds now offering almost no yields and the potential for yields to go negative, some advisors and investors are growing less enthusiastic with the investment, especially as fund fees eat away at any remaining yield.

“How can you charge 0.5 percent to manage money in a negative interest-rate environment?” Laurence Booth, the CIT chair in structured finance at Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, asked. “This is a disaster for these funds.”