|Title||Money market funds in the US and the EU: a legal and comparative analysis|
The failure of the Reserve Primary Fund, a US money market fund, in September 2008 triggered a widespread withdrawal of assets from other money market funds in the US. The withdrawals led the US Government to adopt emergency measures to maintain market stability. The ability of money market funds to rapidly withdraw funding from the financial system also showed during the European sovereign debt crisis in the summer of 2011. The crisis prompted further regulatory debate on both sides of the Atlantic on how to make money market funds more resilient to investors’ runs and systemic shocks. The solutions that are currently discussed propose to eliminate the essential bank-like feature of money market funds – their ability to transact at a stable share price – and thereby reduce their attractiveness to investors seeking cash management options outside the banking system. This thesis detaches from those discussions originally enquiring on how should money market funds be regulated in the US and in the EU. As a theoretical premise, this research identifies two overarching goals for money market funds regulation, namely, investor protection and systemic stability. The prevalent proposals for regulation are thus seen as misguided because the change in money market funds pricing mechanisms and the accounting convention would demonstrably not satisfy these goals. In order to formulate the new propositions for the regulation of money market funds in the US and the EU, therefore, this thesis first critically evaluates the existing US and EU regulatory frameworks applicable to money market funds from the standpoint of the dual policy goal of investor protection and systemic stability. Secondly, it introduces an alternative path for achieving this dual goal. It is argued that the blueprint of the international money market fund regulation ought to focus on full disclosure of the funds’ assets and liabilities – portfolio holdings and fund investors – as the primary measure of investor protection. Such disclosure also addresses systemic stability concerns by empowering regulators to properly monitor the transmission channels of funding risk. While my study does not purport to do away with risk limiting rules for money market funds, it cautions against copying the US-centric view of the investment standards to the much shallower European markets under the banners of harmonisation. Instead, this thesis advocates a harmonised international approach to the transparency of money market fund activities and the creation of a global database of market 5
exposures that would subject asset managers to public scrutiny and enable regulators to monitor the major risk transmitting channels. By these means the dual regulatory goal in money market fund regulation – investor protection and systemic stability – shall be upheld.