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People Fear They’ve Got Too Much Cash in Their Bank Accounts

LISTEN TO ARTICLE Photographer: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg Photographer: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg

The savers are getting restless.

Running out of guaranteed ways to get meaningful returns, some people are increasingly being tempted to raid their interest-earning cash savings to load up on assets such as bitcoin, gold and stocks. The comfortable, if small, returns of high-yield savings accounts are looking less palatable as volatile assets take off.

For a while, Brian Harrington, 28, had been satisfied with a high-yield savings account at Ally Bank, earning a risk-free 2%. Now, the marketing consultant in Anaheim, California, is planning to convert his remaining $15,000 in savings into bitcoin. He thinks the future is one of long-term economic stagnation and low rates.

“I’m not rooting for Doomsday,” he said. “But you have to keep searching for yields.”

The last few months have, in some respects, been a boon for account balances. Nationwide lockdowns enacted to slow the spread of Covid-19 have cut consumer spending, and stimulus checks arrived for millions of Americans. The personal savings rate in the U.S. fell to 19% in June — still at historically high levels — after rising to a record 32.2% in April. Mint, a financial planning platform, told Bloomberg that its customers deposited 16% more into their accounts between March and June compared with the same period last year.

There’s one problem: Now isn’t a great time to hold onto money.

It had become standard advice in personal-finance subreddits and Facebook groups to keep extra ca...

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