How safe is safe? The current market turmoil and the spectre of numerous failed, acquired and bailed-out banks in the US, the UK and Europe, though not in Canada, raises questions about the safety of investments, even those considered the least risky.
When looking for "safe" investments, most people have in their minds whether or not the invested capital and any interest owing will be paid back, which is termed credit or default risk. But any guarantee is only as good as the strength and reputation of the party making it, which may or may not be the institution where you invested the money. So what are the assurances or guarantees and who are the backers for some common securities?
Equities are very high risk in terms of default risk since no one makes any promise to pay anything back.
Brokerage Account Cash - the industry-funded body government of Canada's is in the very best class but various provinces are rated lower, though still considered to be high quality. DBRS rates the City of Montreal the same as Enbridge Pipelines at A+ (high).
Like many things in life, safety is a relative and shifting measure.