August 16, 2012
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
100 F Street, NE
Washington, DC 20549-1090
Dear Chairman Schapiro:
I agree with the comments and sentiment in the standard letter below, with the caveat that there will be times in great financial turmoil that trigger huge redemptions from a fund. At that point the fund should have the regs and tools to delay redemptions or hold part of the redemption so the big players cannot redeem and leave the smaller invertors holding the bag with a loss of NAV.
Although this last go round was very painlful we did get through it. The reaction,on the hand, viz a viz the draconian reforms begin currently considered, I don't think the funds will get through. A case where the illness didn't kill you the cure will!
To force the funds to completely change their nature, structures, accounting, systems, and in order to operate in a degraded emergency mode all the time, even when there is no emergency is not waranted in my opinion. And I believe will cause this form of investment to lose its purpose and uselfulness to both investors in the fund, and to the companies and governments that are lent the money, day in and day out.
Money funds play a huge and critical role in the overall financial system for short term money needs and liquidity. And have been effective for decades upon decades in this. Please do not underestimate or ignore this.
If MM funds are changed as some in the SEC are proposing, a lot of money will then move to bank, and frankly, I think the huge movements, speed and risk would either not be able to be done by the slower more deliberate nature of banks, or, this would overwhlem the banking sector and cahnge that such that it will now be the new money fund risk but they do have option of lowering their NAV. And would be a hige strain on FDIC and imparel our very foudnations of money in this country, maybe even the world.
This is probably not an either-or case, and would urge the funds and regulators to take a look being able to apply some of the concepts of these reforms on a as needed, when needed, timely way. And leave the normal funcitoning alone.
I agree that investors know the funds in money markets are not guaranteed and in fact in the 80's I remember I losing 8% in one of these over the course of a month and was quite annoyed that my broker did not give me a heas up when it was clear this situation was on the horizon for months.
I think the funds' respsonsibility is to make every effort to maintain $1 and have some cushions from fund and sponsors and to have mechanisms in place to lower the nav if, when needed. What I would like to put in place though now, is also that they should have the responsibility to protect the late to know investor, usually the small investor, from taking the hit on precipitous drop, when in fact the conditions causing that drop were long in the making but just took a crisis to reveal to the public and then its a race to the door. I do nto think it is fair to have some shareholders take the brunt of an overnight drop when in fact that value was going down for many months. Plus the race to the door also artificially lowers the NAV so those should not be reqwarded either.
Maybe a two-fold event-targetted approach would be better. Have funds instutute mechanisms to engage the emergency measures maybe of the type that are in this reform when needed and have the rules and the means to engage them be on the ready so can be put into effect quickly. And secondly, have the funds and maybe an industry level board monitor for at risk conditions and when soemthing is on the horizon start building the reserves months ahead.
The standard letter follows, which I agree with.
As someone who has depended on the utility, stability and liquidity of money market funds (MMFs), I am writing to express my strong opposition to the various regulatory proposals being considered by the SEC. Each would destroy a fundamental reason why the funds have become such a popular and useful cash management product. Contrary to what some regulators may want us to believe, the vast majority of users well understand that MMFs are investments which are not guaranteed by the government or anyone else.
One of the hallmarks of MMFs is the stable, $1.00 net asset value. A move to adopt a floating NAV would create accounting nightmares for users, requiring us to track increases or decreases (literally fractions of a penny) in share price each time shares are bought or sold.
The liquidity of MMFs is an equally important aspect of their utility.
Instituting redemption restrictions of any kind, at any time, is just a bad idea. I know of no other widely used cash management vehicle that tells customers that they may not have full access to their investments when they want it or need it. Such a freeze would also cripple sweep accounts, fiduciary accounts and a number of other popular money market fund benefits.
Finally, any proposal to require money market funds to maintain "capital buffers" or reserves would further limit the attractiveness of the investment. This would only serve to decrease the yield on the fund while such a buffer was being built. In the current rate environment such a concept seems untenable and to fail even the most rudimentary cost/benefit analysis.
Given the significant negative impact that any of these proposals will have on those who rely on money market funds, I hope that the SEC will take my views into consideration. I ask you to look closely at the fallout that would ensue and abandon the effort to regulate MMFs out of existence. Money market funds are working well and none of the alternatives available provide the same flexibility, yield and value.