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Fed’s interest-rate hikes make T-bills an attractive, safer investment

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A short-term saver? Say thanks to the Federal Reserve.

One benefit of the Fed’s interest-rate hikes aimed at wresting control over inflation is that savers looking for a safe investment for a year or less can now get the best yields in ages from Treasury bills, or T-bills.

Savings rates have jumped from just about zero to more than 4% in the past 12 months on these short-term securities issued by the federal government. On Jan. 24, a one-year T-bill was yielding 4.7%, up from a rate of 0.57% a year ago. A six-month T-bill was at 4.82% on Jan. 23, compared with 0.36% last January, and the three-month T-bill was yielding 4.58%, up from 0.13%.

And as long as the Fed keeps interest rates high — which seems likely after Wednesday’s quarter-point hike — investing short-term money in T-bills has a certain drama-free appeal with modest returns.

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While this is not a get rich quick scheme, “T-bills currently offer savers better yield than most online savings accounts and short-term [certificates of deposit],” Ken Tumin, a senior industry analyst at LendingTree and founder of DepositAccounts.com, told Yahoo Finance.

A bronze seal for the Department of the Treasury is shown at the U.S. Treasury building in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2023.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
A bronze seal for the Department of the Treasury is shown at the U.S. Treasury building in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2023. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

What are T-bills

Treasury bills — like i Bonds and Treasury inflation-protected securities, or TIPS — are issued by and backed by the U.S. government. I bonds, for example, pay interest for up to 30 years. T-bills are the ticket for people looking for short-term savings of up to a year.

Additionally, savers can reap tax savings on T-bills, which are exempt from state and local income tax.

“That can make a 4.6% yield equivalent to a 5% yield for a CD in a state with an income tax,” Tumin said.

How T-bills works

T-bills are sold at a discount to their face value; when the bill matures, your interest is the difference between what you paid and the T-bill’s face value. For example, if you bought a $1,000, one-year T-bill at a rate of 4%, you would shell out $960 upfront and receive $1,000 at the end of the year.

You must buy on auction dates, which occur weekly for all maturities, except the one-year T-bill, which is set for every four weeks. Most individual investors make a noncompetitive bid, which means you land the average yield set at auction. (Emergency funds might be best held in high-yield savings accounts.)

Want to sell before the maturity date? That can be “a bit of a hassle,” Tricia Rosen, a financial planner and founder of Access Financial Planning, told Yahoo Finance.

When you buy through TreasuryDirect — the government’s website — you must hold new Treasury marketable securities for at least 45 calendar days before transferring or selling them (even if it’s a four-week security). Interest is paid when the security reaches maturity.

You won’t pay a penalty or fee if you want to hop out early like you would if you withdrew from a CD early. However, you could possibly lose money, if the sale price of the T-bill is lower than the original purchase price, which you are guaranteed at maturity.

“For individual investors, Treasury bills may be better suited as a way to diversify your portfolio rather than a replacement for your emergency savings,” said Greg McBride, senior vice president and chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com. “If you had an unplanned expense and needed to sell prior to maturity, you wouldn’t be able to sell it on TreasuryDirect but would first have to transfer it to a bank, broker, or dealer.”

Purse full of money, close upPurse full of money, close up
Treasury bills offer a safe haven for short-term savings. (Getty Creative)

Where to purchase T-bills

You can buy newly issued Treasuries in terms ranging from four weeks to 52 weeks through your bank or brokerage, which may charge a commission. Or, you can buy them online for a minimum of $100 through the government’s TreasuryDirect program, with no commission.

Large firms, however, such as Charles Schwab, Fidelity, and Vanguard, do not charge a fee when you buy a T-bill. That said, the minimum order for a new-issue Treasury is typically $1,000 in face value when you purchase it via a brokerage. And if you want to purchase T-bills for individual retirement accounts (IRA) accounts, you must go through a broker. For those nearing retirement, these can be a smart place to set aside cash without the worry of what’s going to happen with the stock market.

“T-bills are paying a slightly higher rate than other short-term investments, and the Treasury Direct website is easier to navigate than it was a few months ago before they revamped it,” Rosen said. “So it’s a good idea for someone who is in a high tax state.”

Kerry is a Senior Reporter and Columnist at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @kerryhannon.

 

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IN FOCUS: 'No room for complacency' as fight for global investments heats up. What can Singapore do? – CNA

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Apart from the US Chips and Science Act, the US Inflation Reduction Act is another incentive programme “that will compete for the same sorts of investments that Singapore would be interested in”, EDB chairman Beh Swan Gin told reporters at a press conference in February.

The US Inflation Reduction Act comprises billions of dollars of subsidies for the purchase of electric cars and other eco-friendly products that are made in America. This has rattled many European nations who fear that companies may choose to relocate or at least prioritise investment in the US.

In response, the European Commission has presented a Green Deal Industrial Plan with higher levels of state aid to help Europe compete as a manufacturing hub for clean tech products.

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Then, there is BEPS 2.0 which is advocating a minimum effective tax rate of 15 per cent for multinational groups with annual group revenues of at least 750 million euros (US$818 million).

Currently, Singapore’s headline corporate tax rate is at 17 per cent but the effective tax rate of many businesses may be lower than that, or even the proposed global minimum, due to tax incentives given to those seen as beneficial to the country’s economic development.

Singapore has said it will implement a domestic top-up tax for these large multinational enterprises – about 1,800 of them currently meet the revenue threshold – from 2025. 

Already, these firms are having concerns about how the new global tax rules will erode their tax savings in Singapore and mulling whether they should be looking at relocating or making new investments in other countries, said Mr Baik.

“Certainly, tax is just one of the factors in this evaluation process but recent global tax developments have undoubtedly elevated the tax benefits consideration among the factors.”

Meanwhile, the cost of doing business in Singapore has crept up the list of concerns for businesses.

Beyond the inflationary push in operating expenses such as electricity, firms are increasingly mindful of the cost of living here, said Dr Lei Hsien-Hsien, chief executive officer of The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Singapore.

The Singapore International Chamber of Commerce (SICC) said global companies are most concerned about the elevated rental costs for residential and commercial premises.

The former, in particular, is “making living here much less viable for many expat executives and prohibitive for others”, and this impacts a company’s ability to relocate talent to Singapore.

While Singapore continues to stand out for having low risks of doing business, SICC said “there is no room for complacency” as its regional peers can now better manage risks than before.

“When combined with lower business costs, regional markets will remain attractive to investors based on their risk appetite and their specific business requirements,” the chamber said.

A separate survey, released this week by the European Chamber of Commerce Singapore, also showed that 69 per cent of companies are ready to relocate their staff out of Singapore if there is no relief from rising rental costs of residential and office spaces.

Mr Wong, who is also Finance Minister, has warned that multinational firms are “mobile and … have options” for their next investment projects. Already, firms are “making this clear” in consultation sessions with policymakers.

“Because of BEPS, they will no longer enjoy the same tax advantages in Singapore. Meanwhile, other countries in the region are cheaper, while their home countries are offering very generous incentive packages,” Mr Wong said in his Budget round-up speech on Feb 24.

“So they ask us: what else can Singapore offer to stay competitive?”

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Months after its launch, Canada's new investment industry regulator finally has a proposed name – The Globe and Mail

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Three months after the launch of Canada’s new investment industry self-regulatory body, the organization has proposed a moniker for itself: Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization.

The organization has been nameless since it was formed out of the amalgamation of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada (MFDA) on Jan. 1. It has been temporarily using the name New Self-Regulatory Organization of Canada.

Now, in a proxy circular distributed to the industry on Friday, the New SRO board is requesting that the organization’s members, who include investment and mutual fund dealers, vote for the name change on April 24. If approved, the name will become official on June 1.

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“We recognize the importance of establishing a new name and brand that reflects the values, purpose, and goals of New SRO,” New SRO chair Timothy Hodgson writes in the proxy. “Therefore, we have committed to an accelerated timeline to complete this important task and are confident that the chosen name will resonate with all stakeholders and foster a strong sense of confidence in the New SRO’s mission.”

The shift to a single self-regulatory organization happened after more than two years of industry consultation that began in 2019, when the Canadian Securities Administrators – an umbrella group for provincial and territorial securities regulators – announced it was considering an overhaul of the regulatory framework that governed IIROC and MFDA.

The two self-regulatory organizations had long been criticized by investor advocates and the investment industry for having overlapping areas of oversight, as wealth managers were increasingly serving customers buying both mutual funds, overseen by MFDA, and individual securities, which were IIROC’s responsibility.

In the fall of 2022, the merger was approved by the CSA, which also approved the combination of two investor protection funds – the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and the MFDA Investor Protection Corporation. The new single fund is independent from the new regulatory organization.

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Lefebvre announces new committee to help spur investment

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A new committee of Greater Sudbury city council is being set up to find the “best way of streamlining and of encouraging investment in Sudbury.”

So described Mayor Paul Lefebvre, who used Thursday’s Fireside Chat event with the Northeastern Ontario Construction Association to announce the new five-member committee.

“It’s a big exercise, but I think it’s a positive way of affecting change,” he told Sudbury.com after delivering his address at Verdicchio Ristorante, adding that his goal is for the committee to present recommended changes to municipal bylaws by the end of the year.

The committee would host five to seven meetings this year to learn from local industry leaders, with priority given to those with experience working for other municipalities.

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“What is going on elsewhere?” Lefebvre asked. “How are they doing things different from what’s going on here, and why is that the case, so we have a better understanding.”

Lefebvre said that with many regulations provincially mandated, he wants the committee to narrow in on what the municipality can actually accomplish.

In concert with the committee’s work, Lefebvre said an internal team at city hall will work with their counterparts in other municipalities to dig out best practices for Greater Sudbury to adopt.

Reflecting on Lefebvre’s address, Northeastern Ontario Construction Association executive director Mark Kivinen told Sudbury.com he is “very optimistic,” and that Lefebvre has “hit the ground running” since he was elected to head city council on Oct. 24, 2022.

“He is so engaged with the community and understands what the community wants and needs, and also has the ability to not stay stagnant, to open up and don’t be just locked in your little bubble,” Kivinen said, adding that the upcoming committee should aid in this effort.

“There are other municipalities that are doing things better than us, and we are doing some things better than them,” he said. “I think we understand now that if we’re going to promote growth, we’ve got to open up the city a little more.”

Thursday night’s speech and subsequent question and answer period highlighted an ongoing concern within the local construction industry of so-called “red tape” at city hall, which Lefebvre said city council’s upcoming committee will strive to suss out.

Ward 5 Coun. Mike Parent has also addressed “red tape” in a motion greenlit by city council in February, which will see the city partner with the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce to investigate ways of streamlining processes for businesses.

During his speech, Lefebvre cited recent progress on the Employment Land Strategy and a $1.25-million interim fix approved for Fielding Road, which services one of the city’s industrial hubs, as recent signs of city council support for tackling economic growth.

“We’re serious about this,” Lefebvre said, adding that the work on Fielding Road is a solid investment that will help ensure clients and those working in the area won’t have to wear a mouthguard while navigating the pothole-filled road.

Earlier this week, city council approved a public consultation plan for a new tax incentive called the Employment Land Community Improvement Plan, which Lefebvre cited as another recent move toward spurring economic activity. Sudbury.com will be publishing an in-depth report on the proposal soon.

Tapping into the value-added market when it comes to battery-electric vehicles, the city’s infrastructure deficit, its collection of aging facilities, a need for housing across the continuum, and a need for employees in a local economy in which there are approximately 3,500 unfilled jobs right now, were also hot topics during tonight’s speaking engagement.

Lefebvre said all of these issues and more will need to be dealt with to help meet his ultimate goal of increasing Greater Sudbury’s population to 200,000 within 20 years.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.

 

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