Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.Stock Market Crash and Recession Indicator Warning: Extreme Danger Ahead - Harry_Dent
2. Is This How World War III Begins, In Almost Complete Silence? - Jeff_Berwick
3.Trump Wins 2nd Presidential Debate, Betfair Betting Markets Odds Bounce - Nadeem_Walayat
4.Why Krugman, Roubini, Rogoff And Buffett Dislike Gold - GoldCore
5.End of SPX Stock Market Correction Nears - Tony_Caldaro
6.Get Ready for the Future - Exponential Machine Intelligence Mega-trend towards Singularity - Nadeem_Walayat
7.US Housing Market Bubble II – It’s Happening Again! - Andy_Sutton
8.FTSE BrExit Stock Market Panic Crash Resolves towards New All Time Highs - Nadeem_Walayat
9.Can Trump Still Win Despite Opinion Polls, Bookmakers and Pundits all Saying Hillary has Won? - Nadeem_Walayat
10.Gold’s, Miners’ Stops Run - Zeal_LLC
Last 7 days
Inflation About To Explode Higher - 22nd Oct 16
Still waiting for SPX uptrend to kick off - 22nd Oct 16
Will a Rising US Dollar Crush Gold’s Fledgling Bull? - 22nd Oct 16
Why The Global Economy Will Disintegrate Rapidly Back to Olduvai Gorge - 22nd Oct 16
GLD Bleeds Out; Weekly Gold Update - 22nd Oct 16
Stock Market Investment Success Through the “Investment Rule of 72” - 21st Oct 16
The Final Bottom in Gold - WHEN - 21st Oct 16
Gold Green Lights Upleg - 21st Oct 16
Demand for US Mints Silver Eagles has ‘Returned with a Vengeance’ - 21st Oct 16
Central Bankers Can't Stop The Death Blow Of The Post US Election Recession - 21st Oct 16
The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Golden Opportunity for Frontier Asia - 21st Oct 16
Have You Taken These 4 Simple Steps to Improve Your Trading? - 21st Oct 16
The Stock Market is an Accident Waiting to Happen - 20th Oct 16
It's Rally Time for Gold and Silver Equities - 20th Oct 16
Cashless Society – Risks Posed By The War On Cash - 20th Oct 16
China's insane Housing Market Will Tumble and Crash in 2017 - 20th Oct 16
Donald Trump Bounces Going into 3rd and Final US Presidential Election Debate - 20th Oct 16
Attention Please: Phase Two of the Gold and Silver Train Now leaving the Station. All Aboard? - 19th Oct 16
How to Successfully Trade a Stock Market Crash - Black Monday October 19th 1987 - 19th Oct 16
Tesla, Apple and Uber Push Lithium Prices Even Higher - 18th Oct 16
Silver, Debt, and Deficits – From an Election Year Perspective - 18th Oct 16
UK Property Market: Slow Growth Does Not Equate To Decline - 18th Oct 16
Trump Election Victory is in Your Power - 18th Oct 16
Stock Market More to Come! - 18th Oct 16
This Past Week in Gold and Silver - 17th Oct 16
A Falling Stock Market Cannot Be Allowed - Financial Repression Is Now “In-Play”! - 17th Oct 16
Commodities, Forex and Stock Market Trend Forecasts - 17th Oct 16
Stock Market Crash..or No Crash? - 17th Oct 16
A perspective on risk rally – Risks abound but Stock Market is Confident - 17th Oct 16
Bank of England Blames Brexit for Sterling Drop Inflation, Masks QE Money Printing Cause - 17th Oct 16
From Piety to Pride to Pity, America's Racial Divide - 17th Oct 16
Is Obama Juicing US Government Spending To Get Hillary Clinton Elected? - 16th Oct 16
Seek Your Independence: Anything Else Will Destroy You - 16th Oct 16
SNL - US Presidential Debates, 1st, 2nd, VP - Like You've Never Seen them Before! - 16th Oct 16
End of Economic Growth Sparks Wide Discontent - 16th Oct 16
Donald Trump on Life Support, May Abandon Election Campaign and War on Republican Party - 15th Oct 16
The Gold Manipulators Not Only Will Be Punished, They Have Been Punished - 15th Oct 16
Black Votes Matter - Is the US on the Verge of Mass Race Riots? - 15th Oct 16
Gold Stocks Screaming Buy - 14th Oct 16
Brace Yourself for the Quadrillion-Dollar Reckoning - 14th Oct 16
The Next Recession Will Blow Out the Budget - 14th Oct 16
John Mauldin: My Infrastructure Plan to Save the US Economy - 14th Oct 16
World War III On The Brink: War Will Continue Until It Triggers Economic Collapse - 14th Oct 16
US T-Bill Rejection At Ports In Progress - 14th Oct 16
These 2 Debt Instruments Pose Peril to Millions of Investors - 14th Oct 16
China’s Rocketing Housing Market Real Estate Bubble - 14th Oct 16
DIY Winter Home Maintenance Money Saving 22 Point Checklist to Get Ready for Winter/Fall - 14th Oct 16
US Stock Market, Big Picture View - 13th Oct 16
Stock Buybacks Main Force Driving Bull Market; Rewards Investors and Starves Innovation - 13th Oct 16
SPX Gapping Down... - 13th Oct 16
Syria - Obama Stepped Back From Brink, Will Hillary? - 13th Oct 16
The Structure and Future of Gold in the Investment and Monetary World - 13th Oct 16
Can Trump Still Win Despite Opinion Polls, Bookmakers and Pundits all Saying Hillary has Won? - 12th Oct 16
Gold and Crude Oil - General Stock Market Links - 12th Oct 16
Samsung's Galaxy Battery Just The Tip Of The Iceberg - 12th Oct 16
Hillary: Deceit, Debt, Delusions (Part Two) - 12th Oct 16
Gold and Silver Metals Show Strength Relative to the USD Index - 12th Oct 16
Announcing Trader Education Week -- a Free Event to Help You Learn to Spot Trading Opportunities - 12th Oct 16
Confirmed Stock Market Sell Signals - 11th Oct 16
Hillary Deceit, Debt, Delusions - 11th Oct 16
Trump Support Crashes to New Low of 6.4 on Betfair Odds Betting Market - 11th Oct 16
The World Is Turning Dangerously Insular - 11th Oct 16
An American Tragedy: Trump Won Big - 11th Oct 16

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

LEARN to Trade

Don't Let the SEC Tread on Your Money Market Funds!

Stock-Markets / Market Regulation Mar 09, 2012 - 05:56 AM GMT

By: Money_Morning


Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleMartin Hutchinson writes: SEC chairman Mary Schapiro announced last week that she has set her sights on your money market funds.

I'm sorry, but that makes no sense at all. Losses on money market fund investments have been trivial in the almost 40 years they have existed.

What's more, they haven't added to the tottering instability of global finance. Not one wit.

Her attempt to come down on money market funds is nothing more than crony capitalism at its most unpleasant.

The regulators, who under the Obama administration simply like regulating, are just in cahoots with the big banks, seeking to eliminate their competition.

In this case, what the banks would like to do is simply turn back the clock.

After all, in the 1960s, banks had a very easy life, because interest rates were regulated.

The old adage was "3-6-3" banking - borrow at 3%, lend at 6% and be on the golf course by 3 p.m.!

It was a good deal for the bankers but not such a good deal for those forced to lend to the banks at 3%--especially as inflation rose in the late 1960s to 4%, 5% and higher.

In fact, it was no wonder that when I first opened a U.S. bank account in 1971 that I was rewarded with a full set of bone china! Attracting savings was THAT profitable!

But all of this changed with the establishment of money market funds.

Why We Need Money Market Funds

The Reserve Primary Fund was the first in 1971, but the funds really took off after Fidelity offered the first money market fund with checking privileges in 1974.

Money market funds were not unregulated; they were regulated by mutual fund statutes.

However, they were able to invest in commercial paper and bank certificates of deposit and offer investors true market interest rates.

Since interest rates in the late 1970s were soaring, to a peak of 20% at the end of 1980, money market funds attracted a huge volume of deposits from banks and savings and loans.

Ever since then, the banks have resented the competition from money market funds and have attempted to hobble them.

One valid bank gripe is that money market funds report their asset value as $1, ignoring the minor fluctuations in the value of the portfolio in which they have invested.

This allows investors with checking privileges to treat their money market fund account as the exact equivalent of a bank account, which it really isn't.

The excuse to get the funds regulated came in September 2008 when the Reserve Primary Fund, which had invested too much in Lehman Brothers paper, first "broke the buck" reporting a net asset value of 97 cents, and then closed for business.

The reality was not quite as dire as commentators pretended. While legal nonsense tied the Reserve Primary's assets up for nearly three years, investors were eventually repaid more than 99 cents on the dollar.
The banks also complain that money market funds sell themselves as being as safe as banks, when they do not benefit from deposit insurance.

That's actually very cheeky, since the deposit insurance system was set up to protect us from the bank disasters in 1931-33.
Of course, the technology did not exist in the 1920s to even begin to set up money market funds. Alas, w
ithout computers, you would have needed a Russian Army-sized team of clerks keeping Pentagon-sized collections of manual ledgers.

But if they had, money market funds would have been a better solution for bank problems than deposit insurance. Widows would not have had to worry about the safety of the local bank in which their savings were held, but could have benefited from the diversification of a well-run money market fund.

Without bank runs, there would have been no 1931-33 bank crash. Problem solved!

What makes the banks' argument against the safety of money market funds so spurious is because it depends on the solvency of the deposit insurance system, which is currently running out of money and will have to be bailed out by taxpayers.

Tell me, how safe would you feel with Greek deposit insurance? Russia had deposit insurance in 1998, and a fat lot of good it did for Russian depositors.

Because money market funds buy commercial paper and CDs from foreign banks, they are safer and more liquid than banks when the government itself is running big deficits.

After all, money market funds don't trade credit default swaps, they don't originate subprime mortgages, they don't invest in illiquid 7-10 year loans against commercial real estate and they don't lend 400% of equity to finance leveraged buyouts of casino operators.

Schapiro's "reforms" are thus unjustified.

Four Reasons Mary Schapiro is Wrong about Money Market Funds

To go through them one by one, Schapiro is wrong to target money market funds for the following reasons:

1) She wants money market funds to be forced to mark their assets to market, thus causing investors' deposits to fluctuate by tiny amounts day-by-day. This is her best idea, but would put money funds at an artificial marketing disadvantage (bank CDs are not "marked to market" daily with interest rate fluctuations as by the same logic they should be.)

However, it can be solved by each fund maintaining a small reserve account, which could top off the fund or withdraw excess cash, so that the fund's net asset value remained $1. It is fiddly, but doable if we have to be persnickety about the accounting.

2) She wants the funds to maintain capital. What for? They invest only in the short-term securities of top quality names, and need to keep a $1 net asset value, so they don't do anything for which capital would be useful. It would just sit around. Mutual funds don't need to hold capital.

3) She wants the funds to restrict withdrawals, in case commercial paper becomes unsalable, and the funds can't pay out their investors. But almost all of the funds' investments mature within 90 days, so full payouts can be made with only a modest delay (unless the lawyers are allowed to get involved, as in the Reserve Primary Fund). There's a theoretical risk here, but restrictions would make the risk to investors greater, not less.

4) She wants the funds to charge fees on redemptions. This doesn't solve the illiquidity problem. This one is very clearly an attempt by the banks to mess up the money fund industry. Nice try, guys!

So here's the bottom line...

If we let Schapiro have her way, the money market fund industry will be killed--especially if Ben Bernanke is able to keep interest rates at zero for several more years

Then we will all be at the mercy of the bank cartel again, earning 3% on our money when the inflation rate is 10% or more.

It's the kind of thing that made the colonists rebel in 1776!

Don't let Mary Schapiro tread on your money market funds.


Money Morning/The Money Map Report

©2012 Monument Street Publishing. All Rights Reserved. Protected by copyright laws of the United States and international treaties. Any reproduction, copying, or redistribution (electronic or otherwise, including on the world wide web), of content from this website, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited without the express written permission of Monument Street Publishing. 105 West Monument Street, Baltimore MD 21201, Email:

Disclaimer: Nothing published by Money Morning should be considered personalized investment advice. Although our employees may answer your general customer service questions, they are not licensed under securities laws to address your particular investment situation. No communication by our employees to you should be deemed as personalized investent advice. We expressly forbid our writers from having a financial interest in any security recommended to our readers. All of our employees and agents must wait 24 hours after on-line publication, or after the mailing of printed-only publication prior to following an initial recommendation. Any investments recommended by Money Morning should be made only after consulting with your investment advisor and only after reviewing the prospectus or financial statements of the company.

Money Morning Archive

© 2005-2016 - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.

Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Catching a Falling Financial Knife