A few months back, the US Federal Reserve slashed its benchmark interest rates to between 0% and 0.25%. The last time it was this low was in late 2008, during the throes of the Great Financial Crisis. Now, with the near-term economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis still unknown, there’s also the possibility that the benchmark interest rate in the US could move into unprecedented negative territory.

This gives us investors a dilemma. In this low rate environment, should we invest in higher-returning but riskier asset classes, or stick to lower-risk but ultra-low-yielding investments?

The search for higher returns

Interest rates are an important determinant in the long-term returns of most asset classes. In a low-interest-rate environment, corporate bonds and treasuries naturally have low yields. Holding cash is an even less attractive proposition, with bank interest rates almost negligible.

In a bid to get higher returns, stocks may be the best option for investors.

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