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Guarantee gone for Money Market

Steve Henn Sep 14, 2009
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Guarantee gone for Money Market

Steve Henn Sep 14, 2009
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TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: And here’s another milestone in our year-long economic journey. Ever since the meltdown, the Treasury Department has been guaranteeing investments in Money Market mutual funds that were made before the crisis. Well that guarantee’s going away later this week. Marketplace’s Steve Henn tells us why that matters.


Steve Henn: Investors hold $3.5 trillion in Money Market accounts. These funds invest in short-term corporate debt. They’re supposed to be safe and they offer higher returns than savings accounts. Or at least that was the story.

Andrew Tignanelli: I still think Money Market funds are a disaster waiting to happen, just like they were a year ago.

Investment advisor Andrew Tignanelli says even stable companies can fall apart quickly and default. When that happens, investors run for the exits.

Tignanelli: Once they get wind of the fact that they can lose money, you create a situation like a mania or a panic. And no one can survive a run.

Last year, investors pulled more than $40 billion out of a single fund in just three days. The run stopped when the Feds guaranteed accounts.

Industry groups say Money Markets are safer today, investing in shorter-term debt and keeping more cash on hand. But Tignanelli believes all it would take to create another panic is another big company flaming out unexpectedly.

In Washington, I’m Steve Henn for Marketplace.

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