I’ve written over and over again that you need to make sure you only have money in INSURED bank accounts. That means federally insured. No money market funds or other accounts unless you can see that they are federally insured. Here is a simple rule: if you are getting a higher interest rate that means you are taking a greater risk, and this is NOT the time to take risks.
Friday a big bank, IndyMac, was closed. This means that every single depositor at that bank with more than the insured limit is at risk of losing at least some of their money. What will happen now is the assets of that bank will be sold, and the money divided up among the depositors. If there is enough to cover all of the depositors, that’s great. If not, the FDIC will cover all accounts up to $100,000 — $200,000 for couples and $250,000 for IRAs. (Do I have that right?) IndyMac was the first of what could be many.
BusinessWeek: What if my bank fails? Some questions and answers,
The government’s seizure of IndyMac Bank raises concerns for many consumers about whether their banks might be next.
While it is unlikely the nation will see thousands of banks fail as they did during the savings and loan industry collapse in the late 1980s and early ’90s, analysts predict there will be more battered financial institutions that are unable to survive in today’s marketplace.
[. . .] Q: How can I make sure my money is safe?
A: All deposit accounts worth $100,000 and less are automatically insured by the FDIC. Many retirement accounts, such as IRAs and 401(k)s, are insured to $250,000 per person. But since it’s a person’s aggregate deposits, and not their individual accounts, that are insured, any amounts over $100,000 deposited at any one bank are not covered.
In a joint account, each depositor is insured up to $100,000.
The FDIC has information about its insurance on its Web site, at http://www.fdic.gov/deposit/deposits/insured/yid.pdf.