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The Money Markets are wholesale markets - i.e. they are not open to individual investors - through which governments, financial institutions and large corporations borrow or lend money to each other. Money markets are characterised by high value, short term transactions and involve interest rates that are not available to the general public. In the UK, for example, the money markets refer to the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) for appropriate terms. These rates are those offered by one bank to another, for example, and are not available to retail investors.
Money market transactions are high volume, low risk and short term - often as short as overnight - and involve the sale of financial instruments such as ‘commercial paper'. These are issued, for example, by banks wishing to meet a short term financial debt. Commercial paper is unsecured and is only backed by the issuer's promise to repay the paper at face value at a specified date. As the paper is unsecured, only companies with exceptional credit ratings are able to sell at a reasonable rate. Commercial paper is sold at less than face value and the repayment period is shorter than bonds.
Private investors can access the money markets by investing in money markets mutual funds.
Do you work in the money markets? Would you like to contribute to our "Day in the Life of..." series? Email us at email@example.com for more details.