WASHINGTON — The Financial Stability Oversight Council has proposed regulatory reforms for money market mutual funds similar to those advocated by Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro.
FSOC, which was created by the Dodd-Frank Act, announced Tuesday that it is seeking public comment on three options proposed by its members Tuesday. The public will have 60 days to comment, it said.
One option would require money market funds to peg the value of their shares at the actual market value of the underlying portfolio to achieve the so-called “floating net-asset value.” Currently, the funds use a stable $1 net-asset value.
Another would be to maintain the stable net-asset value, but add capital buffers that would allow money market funds to maintain stable net-asset values despite daily fluctuations in the value of the securities they hold. FSOC said this option would be paired with a restriction that would delay for 30 days redemptions of 3% of shareholder’s account value in excess of $100,000.
A third option includes net-asset value buffers and other measures, such as more stringent requirements for investment diversification, more robust disclosure and increased minimum liquidity levels.
The proposals come nearly three months after Schapiro announced the SEC would no longer pursue new money market reforms.
Schapiro, who has long advocated for money market regulatory reforms nearly identical to those recommended by FSOC, said the decision was made because of lack of support from three of the other four commissioners.
The three were Democrat Luis Aguilar and Republicans Troy A. Paredes and Daniel M. Gallagher. Democrat Elisse B. Walter sided with Schapiro in calling for the reforms.
Schapiro has said reforms are needed to prevent a repeat of what happened in September 2008, when the $62.5 billion Reserve Primary Fund’s NAV fell below $1 and investors began to redeem shares from other funds. The federal government halted the run with a taxpayer-funded program, but Congress later banned the Treasury Department from repeating such bailouts.
In September, Treasury Secretary and FSOC chairman Timothy Geithner urged the council to propose options for increasing regulation of money market funds. Under the Dodd Frank Act, FSOC may make recommendations to regulatory agencies if it determines a financial activity creates a significant risk to the broader U.S. economy.
Agencies like the SEC must either adopt the council’s recommendations or explain why they decided against it.
Muni bond issuers have strongly opposed additional money market regulations, saying investors have adequate protection under SEC rule changes adopted in 2010.
New rules could result in higher short-term borrowing costs for governments and fewer reliable short-term investment options for issuers, they warned.
Susan Gaffney, director of the Government Finance Officers Association’s federal liaison center, said in an email Tuesday that a change to the stable net-asset value feature of money markets “could have a negative effect on state and local governments who use [the funds] as a key cash management and investment tool.” She also noted “the important role [the funds] play as investors in short term munis.”
Gaffney said state and local governments will continue to “oppose efforts such as the ones discussed today that would end up hurting our members.”
Paul Schott Stevens, president and CEO of the Investment Company Institute, said in a statement that the ICI is “disappointed” by FSOC’s proposals.
“These concepts have elicited strong opposition for their adverse impacts on investors, issuers, and the economy from hundreds of organizations representing state and local governments, businesses, and others, as well as members of Congress from both parties,” he said.
Stevens said the proposals would increase financial risk by concentrating assets in a few large institutions and driving investment to less-regulated money market funds.
Public comments on FSOC’s recommendations can be submitted on the website www.regulations.gov.