Return with us to ancient times, when dinosaurs ruled, at least in technology terms. It was early 2007, when Blackberries were in everybody’s mitts and the first iPhone hadn’t yet gone on sale, let alone changed the tech world. This distant era was the last in which you could earn 5% on a U.S. Treasury bill. Until now.
Five percent is a risk-free rate far above what anyone under the age of 40 likely is accustomed to. Following the 2008-09 financial crisis, T-bill yields hugged zero percentmost of the time, except for a move into the 2% range by 2018. They plunged anew when the Covid-19 pandemic erupted in 2020. Starting last year, however, they began to climb, as the Federal Reserve sharply raised its short-term interest-rate target by 4.25 percentage points, to 4.50%-4.75%. And with two more quarter-point hikes likely in March and May, and possibly a third in June, T-bills due in six months topped the 5% mark this past week for the first time since April 2007, according to the St. Louis Fed.