Ask Money

Money market mutual funds

Chris Farrell Sep 25, 2008

Question: I have been told that I should transfer my cash into treasury money market funds (MMF) to protect them during the current crisis. As of now MMF’s are not insured or backed by the goverment. Should I assume that treasury MMF’s are safe since they are invested U.S. treasury notes? George, Baltimore, MD

Answer: Right now, the savings parked in money market mutual funds before September 19th is extremely safe. In essence, to stop a modern run on the Wall Street bank–an investor flight from money market mutual funds–the Treasury decided to backstop the $3.5 trillion business with the full faith and credit of the American taxpayer. Call it the Federal Money Market Mutual Fund Insurance Corp.

The regulatory rules of the new insurance fund are still being drawn up, the government is determined the traditional industry pledge that net asset value on money funds won’t “break a buck” will hold. The dollar you put into a taxable or tax exempt money market mutual fund before September 19 will be worth at last a buck when you withdraw money from the fund. I’ve long argued for savers to use the money market mutual funds that invest heavily in Treasuries. Why take a risk with your emergency savings money? You want it stashed in a safe haven.

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