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How Inflation Is Affecting Money Market Funds

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The stock market hasn’t provided much joy, bonds have been a source of considerable pain and inflation is troubling.But at last there is a glimmer of good news for people who need a place to park their cash: Money market mutual funds are finally beginning to pay a little interest.These funds are a convenient place for both individual investors and big institutions to keep money temporarily. Their yields have been very low for years, and since the crisis of March 2020 they had hovered near zero, paying investors virtually nothing.But now that the Federal Reserve has begun to increase the short-term interest rates it controls directly, money market fund yields that are available to consumers have also started to rise — and they will continue their climb as long as the Fed continues to increase short-term rates.“You can expect money market rates to keep rising for a while,” said Doug Spratley, who heads the cash management team at T. Rowe Price. “And they will be rising fairly rapidly.”Don’t get too excited just yet. This isn’t a return to the early 1980s, when money market rates soared above 15 percent, along with the rate of inflation. The yield on the average big money market fund is still only about 0.6 percent, said Peter G. Crane, the president of Crane Data of Westborough, Mass., which monitors money market funds.“Yields are moving in the right direction,” Mr. Crane said. “But that’s still not much, especially when you factor in inflation.”The latest Consumer Price Index numbers …

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