Characteristics of Money Market Securities

Money market securites offer safety and liquidity for investors willing to accept a relatively low return.

Businesses, governments and financial institutions issue money market securities as an inexpensive means to borrow money to cover short-term liabilities. Unlike longer-term liability solutions, money market securities offer a great deal of flexibility. Money market securities are typically debt instruments such as bonds and commercial paper having the highest credit ratings issued by institutions such as Moody's and Standard & Poors. Money market securities provide investors with a safe means of preserving capital, though this safety comes at the expense of the higher yields attainable through riskier investments.


Types of Securities

Money market securities are typically debt instruments with a hefty face value of $100,000 or more. These securities include federal and municipal bonds, certificates of deposit from financial institutions, and commercial paper, a kind of unsecured IOU, from large corporations. Certain types of money market investments specialize in one type of money market security, such as tax-free municipal bond funds, but most money market securities trade in a mix of various security types.


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Securities and Rapid Maturity

Money market securities are designed solely to meet the short-term capital requirements of government and business. Most money market securities mature in less than three months time, and all money market securities mature within one year. Money market instruments such as federal funds and repurchase agreements exemplify the short maturity of money market securities; they represent significant holdings in most money market funds and typically mature in less than one week.


Safety and Money Market Securities

Money market securities are the safest investments available, with credit ratings that surpass almost all other investment grade debt instruments. The SEC helps ensure this safety by mandating that at least 95 percent of a money market fund's securities must be ones that have earned the highest rating of at least two of the five major credit rating institutions. This means that investors can take reassurance in knowing that since money market funds were introduced in 1983, only once has a fund declined in value.


Liquidity and Money Market Securities

According to Investopedia, money market securities are extremely liquid and can be converted into cash quickly. The short-term nature of these securities contributes to the liquidity of money market investments, as the principal of these debt instruments is repaid very rapidly. This liquidity, combined with a higher return on principal than an investor would receive from a savings account, make money market securities an excellent place for investors to relegate the cash portion of their diversified portfolios.


Money Market Funds

Since most money market securities trade in large denominations, money market funds provide the best way for the average individual to invest in these securities. Fidelity reports that their safety and high liquidity make money market funds attractive vehicles for risk-averse investors as well as those wanting a safe place to hold funds between more risky, high-yield investments. When an investor places their money in money market funds, they do not have to worry about watching the market like a hawk or figuring out just the right moment to pull their investment in order to preserve the principle.

Consider Also:Characteristics of Money Market Securities, and What is a Prime Money Market Fund?