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Is Your Money Market Fund Really Safe?

Contributed by mm | August 18, 2007 5:12 PM PST

We always think money market funds are as good as cash, with the added benefit of more yield. Is that true?

New York Times named four money maket funds that own commercial paper (short-term IOUs) issued by companies facing potential S&P downgrade.

• Evergreen Institutional Money Market Fund ($16.6 billion)
• Evergreen Prime Cash Management Money Market Fund ($4.5 billion)
• Legg Mason Inc.'s Master Portfolio Trust Liquid Reserves Portfolio. ($52.5 billion)
• Columbia Funds Series Trust Cash Reserves ($62 billion)

Worse, according to WSJ, at least one firm that "manages short-term cash for commodity trading firms and hedge funds," has notified its clients that no more redemption will be allowed so that they can avoid selling securities at fire-sale prices.

The reality is, no single money market fund has ever "broken the buck" yet, but it does not mean there will be none in the future, especially given the credit mess we are in. It does not hurt to call your fund adminstrator and ask if they are doing any business with risky counterparties.

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