Saturday, December 26, 2009

Cash is King...Duke...Count...

Indeed, after fees are subtracted, inflation is accounted for and taxes are paid, many investors in C.D.’s, government bonds and savings and money market accounts are losing money. In fact, Northern Trust waived some $8 million in fees on money market accounts because they would have wiped out all interest, and then some.
“The unemployment situation and the general downturn in the economy had an impact, but what’s going to happen now as C.D.’s mature is that retirees and the elderly are going to take anywhere from a half to three-quarters of a percent cut in their incomes,” said Joe Parks, a retired accountant in Houston on the advisory board of Better Investing, an organization that works to help people become savvier investors. “It’s a real problem.”
Experts say risk-averse investors are effectively financing a second bailout of financial institutions, many of which have also raised fees and interest rates on credit cards.
“What the average citizen doesn’t explicitly understand is that a significant part of the government’s plan to repair the financial system and the economy is to pay savers nothing and allow damaged financial institutions to earn a nice, guaranteed spread,” said William H. Gross, co-chief investment officer of the Pacific Investment Management Company, or Pimco. “It’s capitalism, I guess, but it’s not to be applauded.”
Mr. Gross said he read his monthly portfolio statement twice because he could not believe that the line “Yield on cash” was 0.01 percent. At that rate, he said, it would take him 6,932 years to double his money. [More]

Every day more cash fans are facing tough decisions. CD's roll over, and for many doing their taxes is the ultimate wakeup call. If you had to live on interest alone, what would you be doing?

I'm still betting the recession instilled a fairly long-lasting risk aversion in too many.  If they are farmers, they could be left behind as asset inflation pushes land out of sight.  Furthermore, I think landowners when faced with diminished return rates as a result of higher valuations, will stick with land in the face of the stark alternatives above.

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