You have been hearing about a "mortgage meltdown" and a "credit crunch." You might have been wondering how this could affect you. Well, the mortgage and credit markets are part of what is sometimes broadly referred to as the "money market." Your money-market funds buy various types of "instruments" that generally offer higher yields than bank savings accounts. These instruments can include mortgage-backed securities.
Well, one money-market fund just asked for permission to stop redemptions. This means that the people who have money in that money-market fund will not be able to get their money out - at least for a while. From this news report, Sentinel management seeks to halt redemptions: report,
Sentinel, a money market mutual fund firm for commodities, has asked the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission to allow it to halt client redemptions until it can conduct them in an orderly fashion, CNBC television reported on Tuesday.
"We had previously thought the market would return to some semblance of order and that our clients would not join in the panic," Sentinel wrote in a letter to clients CNBC said it had obtained. "Unfortunately this has not been the case."
Until things sort themselves out I suggest that you get at least a portion of your money into a safe, FDIC-backed account. If things melt down further you won't be able to get at it for a while, but eventually the government insurance will cover it. If it is not government insured you might just lose it -- because the insurance companies also have their money in these instruments.