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Treasury extends mutual fund guarantee program

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The government is extending a program to bolster the money-market mutual fund industry.

The Treasury Department on Monday said the program, which provides guarantees for the popular investment products, will now run until April 30. The temporary program had been slated to expire on Dec. 18. 

The department said it is taking the action "to support ongoing stability in this market." 

Treasury set up the temporary program in September — a time of intense financial market turmoil — that led skittish investors to pull money out of the funds. The government is tapping a $50 billion fund created during the Depression to temporarily provide the guarantees. Funds pay a fee to participate in the program. 

Treasury last week agreed to be a buyer of last resort to assist in the liquidation of the Reserve Fund's U.S. Government Fund due to "unique and extraordinary circumstances." 

Under the arrangement, the fund has been given 45 days to find buyers for its assets. After that, the Treasury will step in and buy any remaining shares to ensure that each shareholder receives $1 for every share they own. 

Treasury said last week it did not anticipate taking similar action for any other mutual funds. 

Reserve Management's Primary Fund "broke the buck" in September when its assets fell to 97 cents for each investor dollar after a soured Lehman Brothers investment triggered a rush of redemption orders from investors. 

The Reserve Fund's U.S. Government Fund was permitted to suspend share redemptions as of Sept. 17 under an order issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the department said.

No other funds participating in the temporary guarantee program received a similar order. "Because of this, Treasury does not foresee a need to take similar actions with regard to any other funds participating in Treasury's temporary guarantee program," the department said. 

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