The Treasury Department opened its temporary guarantee program for money market funds Monday and released more details about how it would work.
The program would be in effect initially for three months, the department said; after that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson could allow it to terminate or renew it until Sept. 18 of next year.
Publicly traded retail and institutional funds that maintain a stable share price of $1 can apply to participate, regardless of whether they are taxable or tax-exempt. The fund must have a net asset value above 99.5 cents to qualify.
Each participating fund would pay an up-front fee based on the number of shares outstanding. Funds with a net asset value of 99.75 cents or more would pay 1 basis point; those below that threshold would pay 1.5 basis points.
The fee covers only the initial three months, the Treasury said. If the program is renewed, any funds that want to continue participating would have to pay an additional fee to extend their coverage.
The program covers shareholders for amounts they held in the funds as of the close of business Sept. 19. The guarantee would be triggered if a participating fund's net asset value fell below 99.5 cents — a phenomenon commonly called "breaking the buck."
The Treasury set an Oct. 8 deadline for funds to decide whether to sign up for the program. Investors cannot sign up individually.