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ResearchThe Weekly (9/15)

The Weekly (9/15)

Sep 15, 2023

Oftentimes when you hear about investors “piling in” on an investment, it’s associated with hype, uncertainty, and the motto “high risk, high reward.” This year, US Treasuries—traditionally thought to be sleepy and safe, with little upside—have flipped the script and are on track to have record inflows. Everyone from everyday retail investors to big-shot asset managers are buying treasuries, tempted by the opportunity to lock in a 5%+ yield while keeping their money safe from market swings.

For decades, Treasury bills (T-bills) have yielded near 0%, meaning you earned next to nothing on your cash by lending it to the US government. It was mostly a very easy, “accommodative” macro environment (i.e., cheap to borrow at near-zero interest rates), and it got even easier after the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 which spawned the Fed’s zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) for most of the past decade. So, if you were looking to grow your capital, you went to the stock market. 

But it’s no longer that simple. Take a look at the below from Bloomberg. While the yield of 6-month T-bills (the red line) has historically remained below the yield of the S&P 500 (the black line), T-bills have recently exceeded the stock market in yield, making them look like a better short-term investment.

6-month T-bills now yield more than stocks for the first time in 20+ years. Essentially, cash-like investments are offering returns not seen since the days when flip phones were trendy.

The result? Money market funds, where people often stash their cash, are bursting with inflows. And the most exciting part, in our view, is happening in the world of Treasury money market funds, which invest primarily in T-bills (Treasury bills). In the last three months alone, over a trillion dollars' worth of fresh bills have been absorbed.

We’re very excited about today’s T-bill yields because we’re getting paid to be patient with our cash. Some investors think stocks are too pricey right now; we’d agree that some stocks are richly valued relative to their earnings risks over the next few years. But if we’re right, holding T-bills is like sipping fine wine while waiting for a sale on stocks before we deploy our strategic cash (something I touched on in my latest Monthly Summary).

Tactically for our clients, we’re holding ~15-20% strategic cash in Flagship, Opportunities, and Offshore for them and we’ll deploy it when we think best. For others looking for just a pure place to store excess cash, we’ve seen record demand for our Smart Cash product (check it out if you haven’t). Both are designed to be used in tandem (i.e. take advantage of both worlds).

Have a great weekend,

Clay from Titan


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