By H Schenk; International Union of Crystallography

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Although there is always the risk that a mutual fund could go under, the likelihood of this happening is small. The key distinction between banks and mutual funds is the manner in which mutual funds are set up, which reduces the risks of failure and loss due to fraud. Typically, mutual funds are corporations owned by shareholders. A separate management company is contracted to run the fund’s daily operations. The management company oversees the investments of the fund, but it does not have possession of the investments (assets).

These can be bought and sold in the open market. Repurchase agreements are contracts that involve the sale of money market securities with the simultaneous agreement to buy the securities back at an agreed on price in the future. Money market mutual funds invest in a diversified portfolio of short-term securities such as those described above. These short-term securities are relatively safe from default and are also fairly liquid due to the active secondary markets. Shortterm debt instruments are discussed in greater detail in Chapter 5.

When bonds are called for retirement, they no longer earn interest after the date of call. There are two methods used to determine which bonds will be retired early. One method is to draw the bonds randomly, which means that some bondholders will not be affected. One complication of the use of this method is that it becomes difficult to value the bonds from this issue, because bondholders do not know when their bonds will be called in. The second method used to determine which bonds will be called is the pro rata method.

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