Financial adviser Lynn Daly, from Roseville, Minn., is struggling to get some of her clients to trust anything now that today's news is...
Financial adviser Lynn Daly, from Roseville, Minn., is struggling to get some of her clients to trust anything now that today’s news is conjuring up memories of the Great Depression.
She e-mailed me to remind people “the FDIC was created in 1933 in response to the thousands of bank failures that occurred in the 1920s and early 1930s, and since the start no depositor has lost a single cent of insured funds as a result of a failure.”
Indeed, no one has lost money in banks if they have paid attention to the rules — such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. insures up to $250,000 in a person’s name. But the challenge for people now is to keep up with the rules for various institutions.
Some of the questions I have received highlight people’s concerns:
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Q: I have a money-market account at a bank. Is it insured or part of the temporary new money-market bailout?
A: There are two different types of investments that sound alike but are not. There are money-market accounts, which are like savings accounts at banks. The FDIC insures them up to $250,000 for each person — through 2009, at least — on the account. Find out more at www.fdic.gov/edie.
Don’t confuse this account with a money-market fund, which is a mutual fund. The government does not normally insure mutual funds.
The only exception is money-market mutual funds. Money in them on Sept. 19 is insured for at least three months, and perhaps up to a year.
Q: Is my money safe in a credit union?
A: Like banks, credit unions have insurance that covers investors if the institution has financial trouble and fails. But the insurance varies.
The safest comes from the National Credit Union Administration. It’s just like the FDIC, with the U.S. government behind it, making sure your money is covered up to $250,000 a person on an account until the end of 2009.
To check to see what is covered, go to webapps.ncua.gov/ins/aaFront/F02.asp.
If you don’t see NCUA at your credit union, it probably means the institution is regulated at the state level with private insurance. That’s also insurance, but having the U.S. government as the insurer is the safest.
Q: If the FDIC takes over a bank, will I be able to get to my safe-deposit box?
A: Yes. When the FDIC steps in, the goal is to hold onto customers while the FDIC sells the institution to another bank. Sometimes the FDIC will step into a failing bank on a Friday and close a bank over the weekend. But by Monday, the bank doors open and a customer can use the bank like always.
Over the weekend, people can still write checks and get money from ATMs.
Q: Does the government insure my GNMA fund?
A: No. The government does not insure any mutual fund except for money market funds. Government National Mortgage Association loans are guaranteed by the government, but that’s different from insuring the funds themselves.
The funds, like all bond funds, can be volatile, moving up and down based on factors like interest-rate changes. That means you can lose money.
Q: Is my teachers’ pension safe?
A: The money you have earned so far is safe. But as stocks lose value, the government might have to add money and raise taxes. You might not receive new increases in your pension.