Gov't Puts Kibosh on Mutual Fund Guarantee Program

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By Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said an emergency program that had guaranteed as much as $3 trillion in assets in money market mutual funds was being allowed to expire Friday.

"As the risk of catastrophic failure of the financial system has receded, the need for some of the emergency programs put in place during the most acute phase of the crisis has receded as well,' Geithner said in a brief statement.

Geithner had said last week that the financial system was healthy enough to begin unwinding some of the programs put in place a year ago after the collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered the worst financial crisis in seven decades.

The program to guarantee assets in money market mutual funds had originally been established in September 2008 to last for three months but was then extended through Sept. 18 of this year.

Treasury said it had suffered no losses under the guarantee program and had earned about $1.2 billion in participation fees paid by money market mutual funds.

The program had been established after a large money market fund called the Reserve Primary Fund "broke the buck" — meaning the value of its underlying assets fell below $1 for each investor dollar put in.

The funds are a mainstay of financial management for U.S. families and companies, regarded as safe and easily accessible investments that offer returns exceeding those of conventional savings accounts. They generally invest in the safest types of debt such as Treasury bonds.

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