Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.Crude Oil Price Trend Forecast 2016 Update - Nadeem_Walayat
2.Will Deutsche Bank Crash The Global Stock Market? - Clif_Droke
3.Gold Price In Excess Of $8000 While US Dollar Collapses - Hubert_Moolman
4.BrExit UK Economic Collapse Evaporates, GDP Forecasts for 2016 and 2017 - Nadeem_Walayat
5.Gold Stocks Massive Price Correction - Zeal_LLC
6.Stock Market Predicts Donald Trump Victory - Austin_Galt
7.Next Financial Crisis Will be Far Worse than 2008/09 - Chris_Vermeulen
8.The Gold To Housing Ratio As A Valuation Indicator - Dan_Amerman
9.GDXJ Gold Stocks - A Diamond in the Rough - Rambus_Chartology
10.Gold Boom! End Game Nears As Central Banks Buying Up Gold Mining Companies! - Jeff_Berwick
Last 7 days
US Economy GDP Growth Estimates in Free-Fall: FRBNY Nowcast 2.26% Q3, 1.22% Q4 - 24th Sept 16
Gold and Gold Stocks Corrective Action Continues Despite Dovish Federal Reserve - 24th Sept 16
Global Bonds: Why Our Analyst Says Things Just Got "Monumental" - 24th Sept 16
Where Did All the Money Go? - 23rd Sept 16
Pension Shortfalls Could Be 4X To 7X Greater Than Reported - 23rd Sept 16
Gold Unleashed by the Fed - 23rd Sept 16
Gold around U.S Presidential Elections - 23rd Sept 16
Here’s Why Eastern Europe Is Doomed - 23rd Sept 16
Nasdaq NDX 100 Big Cap Tech Breakout ? - 23rd Sept 16
The Implications of the Italian Banking Crisis Could Be Disastrous - 22nd Sept 16
TwinLakes Theme Park Summer Super 6 FREE Return Entry for Real? - 21st Sept 16
Has the Silver Bullet Run Out of Fire Power? - 21st Sept 16
Frack Sand: The Unsung Hero Of The OPEC Oil War - 21st Sept 16
What’s Happening With Gold? - 21st Sept 16
Gold vs. Stocks and Commodities, Pre-FOMC - 20th Sept 16
BrExit UK Inflation CPI, RPI Forecast 2016, 2017 - 20th Sept 16
European banks may be more important than the Fed this week - 20th Sept 16
Gold, Silver, Stocks and Bonds Grand Ascension or Great Collapse? - 20th Sept 16
Mass Psychology in Action; Instead of Selling Gilead it is Time to Take a Closer Look - 20th Sept 16
Hillary - Finally Well Deserved Recognition for Deplorables - 20th Sept 16
Fascist Business Model: Reich Economics - 19th Sept 16
Multiweek Correction in Gold and Silver Markets Continues - 19th Sept 16
Stock Market May Turn Ugly This Week - 19th Sept 16
China Is Digging Itself into a Deeper Hole - 19th Sept 16
Yellen’s Footnote 8 Would Put Interest Rates on Autopilot - 19th Sept 16
Central Bank Digital Currencies: A Revolution in Banking? - 19th Sept 16
UK Government Surrenders to China / France to Build Nuclear Fukushima Plant At Hinkley Point C - 19th Sept 16
Stock Market Correction Already Over? - 18th Sept 16
American Economics - 18th Sept 16

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis


Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

The Power of the Wave Principle

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

Stock-Markets

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.

Source http://moneymorning.com/2012/03/09/dont-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: customerservice@moneymorning.com

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 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - 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