SEC member calls for tighter market fund regulation

Securities and Exchange Commissioner Michael Piwowar say market funds are 'vulnerable'

A member of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is pushing for tighter regulations of money market funds and says they will remain “vulnerable” if investors continue to run them. SEC Republican Commissioner Michael Piwowar, one the newest members of the agency, says there’s also a need to provide investors with more timely information about funds’ holdings.  

Piwowar, at a gathering of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday, verbally charged a panel of top financial regulators who have tried to pressure the agency to enact new reforms for asset managers and money funds. 

The FoxBusiness Network reports that the Chamber has been one of the most outspoken trade groups to lobby against “overly strict” rules for money market funds, arguing any regulations radically alter the structure of the product could cut off a major supply of short-term funding for corporations.  

"More should be done to mitigate the first mover-advantage enjoyed by investors who run during times of heavy redemptions," said Piwowar, who recently made his first public comments on money fund reforms since being appointed to the agency in August. 

According to the FoxBusiness Network, the SEC’s five commissioners are weighing a proposal to reduce the risks of runs on money market funds, such as like the one seen in 2008 when the Reserve Primary Fund's net asset value fell below $1 per share as panicked investors withdrew money to avoid exposure to Lehman Brothers. 

Piwowar said other agencies including the Federal Reserve have used to the Financial Stability Oversight Council to influence rules for money-market funds and potentially righter regulations of asset managers. FSOC was created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank law to monitor potential risks to the financial system and prevent another financial meltdown. The council also includes the SEC which has designated three non-bank financial firms as “systemically important,” which requires increased Fed oversight. 

“The FSOC, within which the banking and prudential regulators exert substantial influence, represents an existential threat to the SEC and other member agencies,” Piwowar also said in the speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In his speech, Piwowar also took aim at other U.S. regulators who have tried to pressure the agency to enact new reforms for asset managers and money funds, saying they should back off and leave it up to the experts at the SEC.

According to media reports, opposition from Piwowar, a Republican appointee, could complicate the SEC’s ability to adopt a rule that would impose a floating-share value on the riskiest money-market mutual funds or allow them to suspend redemptions in times of stress. The SEC issued the proposal in June, after the FSOC’s recommendations were issued and prior to Piwowar joining the commission. 

 

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Alexis Harrison

Alexis Harrison is a Connecticut-based writer and public relations professional whose career spans both print journalism and broadcast news. Alexis started her professional life as...

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