Business news - Financial industry, Markets and Banking

Update 1 ny fed report aims to end money fund reform stalemate


full redemptions from customers at all times, researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York suggested on Monday, fleshing out one of the latest ideas that could break a stalemate over regulating the $2.5 trillion industry. Under the proposal, funds would make a small fraction of every investor's balance in a money fund subject to delayed withdrawal at all times in what the authors called a "minimum balance at risk," or MBR. The idea drew opposition from the fund industry's main trade group, however. U.S. regulators have been trying in vain to tighten rules affecting money fund investors in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, when dozens of funds ran into trouble and needed backing from their sponsors and the government. The industry maintains that more stringent fund investing rules added in 2010 are sufficient. The new plan published in a blog post by two Fed economists and two other Fed officials would motivate investors to look closely at a fund's riskiness before putting in money, the four wrote. That would be an advantage over proposals to restrict redemptions only when funds come under stress, the report added. The minimum balance could be five percent of an investor's highest balance over the previous thirty days, for example, they said. The MBR "would strengthen incentives for early market discipline," according to the proposal outlined on the New York Fed's Liberty Street Economics blog.

The authors include Marco Cipriani, senior financial economist at the New York Fed, plus two other officials at the bank and a senior economist for the Fed's Board of Governors. A similar idea was raised in an opinion piece by New York Fed President William Dudley in the middle of August, based on a prior research paper by the four. At the time, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro was weighing whether to issue for comment several other possible regulatory solutions.

But a week later three of the SEC's five commissioners sided with the industry and stopped Schapiro from moving forward with the proposal. The proposal would have required money funds to either abandon the $1-per-share net asset value many investors prefer, or put in place capital buffers and redemption restrictions to cope with rapid withdrawals. That left the issue to the Financial Stability Oversight Council chaired by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. In a letter on Sept. 27 he urged the council to consider reforms, including the "minimum balance at risk" idea. In the blog post on Monday, the New York Fed group said a main advantage of their idea is that during times of stress, it gives investors an incentive to stay with a fund. Also, "retail investors, who traditionally have been less quick to run from distressed funds, would enjoy greater protection if they don't run" from a troubled fund, the Fed group wrote.

The minimum balance at risk idea would work well in tandem with a capital buffer for the funds, they added. Asked about the New York Fed proposal, a spokeswoman for the Investment Company Institute in Washington, the fund industry's main trade group, said in an e-mailed statement that it could make money funds less appealing. The minimum balance at risk concept "is essentially a redemption freeze that bars investors from accessing all of their cash when they want it. Surveys of money market fund investors have shown that the product would become unattractive to them if a daily redemption freeze were implemented," said spokeswoman Rachel McTague. That could dry up a major source of funding for businesses and public-sector debt issuers, she said. She added that the Fed did not address the operational complexities of the change. Also, she said: "A daily redemption concept is one that a majority of Commissioners at the SEC have opposed, so recycling an idea from July that's already met strong resistance doesn't seem to help the debate." var $relatedItems = $('lia "/article/usa-congress-tillerson-idUSL1N1EU1CC"U.S. Republicans positive on Tillerson, Democrats have questions/a/lilia "/article/volkswagen-emissions-detroit-idUSL5N1EU3Y3"Volkswagen CEO to stay away from Detroit auto show/a/li'), $relatedItems = $relatedItems.slice(0,10), relatedBlockLimit = Number('6'), relatedItemsTotal = $relatedItems.length, $paragraphTags = $('#article-text p'), contentParagraphs = 0, minParagraphs = Number("8"); for (i=0; i $paragraphTags.length; i++) { if ($paragraphTags[i].innerText.trim().length 0) { contentParagraphs = contentParagraphs + 1; } } if (contentParagraphs minParagraphs) { setTimeout(function(){ if (relatedItemsTotal relatedBlockLimit) { $('.first-article-divide').append('div class="related-content group-one"h3 class="related-content-title"Also In Regulatory News/h3ul/ul/div'); $('.second-article-divide').append($('.slider.slider-module')); $('.third-article-divide').append('div class="related-content group-two"h3 class="related-content-title"Also In Regulatory News/h3ul/ul/div'); var median = (relatedItemsTotal / 2); var $relatedContentGroupOne = $('.related-content.group-one ul'); var $relatedContentGroupTwo = $('.related-content.group-two ul'); $.each($relatedItems, function(k,v) { if (k + 1 = median) { $relatedContentGroupOne.append($relatedItems[k]); } else { $relatedContentGroupTwo.append($relatedItems[k]); } }); } else { $('.third-article-divide').append($('div class="related-content group-one"h3 class="related-content-title"Also In Regulatory News/h3ul/ul/div')); $('.related-content ul').append($relatedItems); } },500); } Next In Regulatory News Oil business seen in strong position as Trump tackles tax reform N. Y. pension fund manager pleads not guilty to pay-to-play scheme NEW YORK, Jan 4 A former portfolio manager at New York state's retirement fund pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges that he steered $2 billion in trades to two brokerages in exchange for bribes that included vacations, cocaine and prostitutes. UPDATE 1-Trump to nominate Wall Street lawyer Clayton to lead U.S. SEC WASHINGTON, Jan 4 President-elect Donald Trump said on Wednesday he intends to nominate Walter "Jay" Clayton, an attorney who advises clients on major Wall Street deals, to lead the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. MORE FROM REUTERS window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'organic-thumbnails-a', container: 'taboola-recirc', placement: 'Below Article Thumbnails - Organic', target_type: 'mix' }); Sponsored Content @media(max-this site) { #mod-bizdev-dianomi{ height: 320px; } } From Around the Web Promoted by Taboola window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push( { mode: 'thumbnails-3X2', container: 'taboola-below-article-thumbnails', placement: 'Below Article Thumbnails', target_type: 'mix' } ); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push

Us money funds return to euro zone as rates edge up


U.S. money market funds are slowly returning to the euro zone, lured by a gradual rise in interest rates as the lenders grow more confident the bloc can contain its debt crisis. For now, funds remain selective with the banks they lend to, preferring the security of those in the top-rated economies in case the three-year-old crisis flares up again. Their renewed interest in the region is, nevertheless, re-opening an important funding source for banks, whose lending on to businesses is crucial to accelerating a fragile economic recovery. Encouraged by the safety net of the European Central Bank's new, though so far unused, bond-buying program and slightly better than expected business sentiment, euro zone banks have begun to wean themselves off central bank support. They have so far paid back nearly a third of the first emergency three-year loans (LTROs) taken from the ECB in November 2011, creating expectations the excess cash in the euro zone banking system may shrink faster than initially thought. This led to a rise in money market rates and an opportunity for U.S. funds to step back in, after almost turning off the tap on the euro zone in July, when the ECB cut its deposit facility rate to zero, pushing market rates into negative territory."We definitely think things are improving from an economic perspective and that's probably what's driving rates higher," said Deborah Cunningham, chief investment officer at Federated Investors, a firm managing $285 billion in money funds."With the payback of LTROs by the various banks, they're going to need some direct financing coming from the market rather than from the ECB... That's going to increase the supply that we will have to choose from over there," she said, referring to euro zone banks' borrowing requirements. Borrowing from a fund is cheaper than from the ECB.

With the past six months' rise in euro zone market interest rates, she was planning to "put more money at work" in both euros and dollars for longer, having previously restricted loan lengths to no more than a month. Money market traders said they had seen increased lending in maturities of three and six months and even noticed some one-year trades in January, a rare sight during the crisis. Six-month Eonia rates, which reflect the average expected overnight rates during the period and often move in tandem with rates on similar-dated commercial paper issued by the region's strongest banks, last traded at about 0.12 percent, compared with a low of minus 0.03 percent at the end of July. One-year Eonia rates are about 0.18 bps, while one-year benchmark euro Libor rates are below 0.50 percent. Banks repaying their long-term ECB loans after one year are charged just over 0.75 percent interest. Back in July, money market funds, which use investors' money to lend to banks, companies or governments for short periods -- typically less than two years -- struggled to offer any returns. At negative rates, a lender is effectively penalized.

JPMorgan Chase & Co, BlackRock Inc and Goldman Sachs Group Inc, restricted investor access to their European money funds, immediately after the ECB's deposit rate cut. JPMorgan said it has since lifted most of the restrictions. The other two firms still have them in place. CONFIDENCE A survey by Fitch Ratings published in January showed, without providing detailed figures, U.S. prime money market funds' exposure to the euro zone at the end of 2012 was more than 70 percent higher than six months earlier, due to "ECB actions and a general softening in euro zone market volatility". Allocations to the region probably rose further in January. Wells Capital Management, which manages $136 billion in money market assets, has increased exposure since the start of 2013.

"Near-term there has been ... sufficient confidence inspired to investors that things are going well," said David Sylvester, the company's head of money funds. But Fitch said euro zone exposure was still more than 60 percent below end-May 2011 allocations, when three- and six-month rates were above 1 percent, and was unlikely to regain those levels any time soon. Later in 2011, benchmark borrowing costs in Italy and Spain reached unsustainable levels, raising doubts the currency union would survive. The subsequent flight of U.S. money funds from Europe raised fears about the health of the euro banking system. The three-month euro/dollar cross currency basis swap, which measures the cost of swapping euro funding for dollars, hit its most expensive levels since the collapse of Lehman Brothers at minus 167.5 basis points in November 2011. The cost has since tumbled to minus 23 bps. Concerns about the debt crisis, even if subsiding, remain and keep many fund managers cautious about the euro zone."Rates have been slightly better, but we would like to see a longer period of improvement," said one money market funds provider, who asked not to be named. "It does look like rates are bottoming out, but the situation remains fragile and it could just as easily flip back."The major worry is that the improvement in euro zone data is mainly driven by the stronger economies, while others still have major structural weaknesses."We just feel there's more writedowns to occur there," said Cunningham of Federated, which does not invest in lower-rated euro zone countries.