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June 10, 2013

Some Baby Steps on Money Funds

“When the Securities and Exchange Commission tried last year to safeguard investors in money market mutual funds, Mary L. Schapiro, its chairwoman at the time, ran into a buzz saw of opposition from industry lobbyists. Last week, Ms. Schapiro’s successor, Mary Jo White, tried her hand at bringing change to this $2.9 trillion market.

Given the onslaught of lobbying against Ms. Schapiro’s efforts, it is perhaps not surprising that Ms. White’s proposal is much more incremental than her predecessor’s.”

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“Could the rule be stiffened? Probably not by the S.E.C. Dennis Kelleher, president of Better Markets Inc., a nonprofit advocating effective financial regulation, said regulatory proposals usually weren’t expanded beyond their initial outlines.

But, he said, there is a possibility that the Financial Stability Oversight Council, the regulatory group created under the Dodd-Frank law, may toughen the rule. In November, after the S.E.C. failed to come up with an acceptable proposal, the stability council suggested three money fund reforms. They went beyond the S.E.C.’s rule, proposing either a floating net asset value for all money funds, or capital buffers.

“The F.S.O.C. has the power and authority it needs to address systemic risks,” Mr. Kelleher said. “If the final rule is weak and deficient and leaves a significant systemic risk to the financial system unaddressed, they have the duty to act under the law.”

Whether they will is another issue. Clearly, the battle for safer money funds is far from over.”

***

Read the full New York Times article here

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