You know you're in a heap of trouble when the lender of last resort suddenly runs out of money.
Having pumped $100 billion into the banking system and lent $115 billion more to rescue Bear Stearns and AIG, the Federal Reserve was forced to ask the Treasury yesterday to borrow some extra money to replenish its coffers. If there was any good news in that, it was that investors here and abroad were eager to help out, having decided that the only safe place to put their money is in U.S. government securities. Indeed, demand was so brisk at one point yesterday that, for an investor, the effective yield on a three-month Treasury bill was driven below zero, once the broker's fee was figured in.
Remember that a T-Bill is a promise made by the US Government to take money from the taxpayers and give it to the holder of the T-bill somewhere in the future.
Which assumes the taxpayers have something TO take at the time.