Bloomberg published a story on Friday entitled, "Money Funds Look at Loophole to Preserve $1 Share Price." Dave Michaels and Christopher Condon write, "Don't mourn the stable $1-per-share money-market mutual fund just yet. Firms including Federated are suggesting that fund companies can avoid new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission requirements to show share-price variations by limiting holdings to very short-term corporate debt. Fund sponsors warned after the SEC adopted rules for institutional prime funds that a floating price would put off corporations such as Boeing Inc. that use the products to manage billions in spare cash. Two months later, Joseph Lynagh, head of money markets and short cash funds at Baltimore-based T. Rowe Price, is saying some fund companies will absolutely roll out products to take advantage of the loophole. T. Rowe Price, he said, isn't planning any such products. "You may see stuff engineered that camps out on that border," said Peter Crane, president of money-market researcher Crane Data LLC. "There could be a market for it." ... One aspect of the rules received little public notice. It left intact a longstanding provision that mutual funds can value debt that matures within 60 days at original cost, instead of at market prices. As a result, a fund invested exclusively in 60-day debt probably wouldn't see its share price vary from $1. The exemption "has always been there but now it takes on significance," said Jay Baris, chairman of law firm Morrison & Foerster LLP's investment management practice. "Now, if you are an institutional fund and you want to maintain a steady net-asset value, you can do it provided all your portfolio securities are under 60 days." While limiting a fund to shorter debt maturities makes it safer, a 60-day cut-off wouldn't have saved the Reserve Primary Fund. Most of the $785 million of Lehman debt it held when the bank failed was within 60 days of maturing.... Limiting investments to debt that matures in 60 days or less would require funds to give up the higher return earned by longer-term investments. With rates low, many funds use a "barbell" strategy balancing very short-term investments with longer-term debt that earns a higher yield, Crane said. The weighted average life of all prime money funds is currently 78 days, according to the Investment Company Institute, the lobbying group for mutual funds. "They have got to get out there and do six-month trades just to get some yield," Crane said.... Some prime funds already operate with short maturities. Invesco's STIC Prime Portfolio, which manages $2.8 billion, only invests in securities that mature in 60 days or less. In periods with interest rates higher than today's, the fund will "tend to have a better yield than Treasury and agency funds" though not as high as a fund that holds securities with the maximum maturity of 397 days, said Bill Hensel, an Invesco spokesman <b:>`_. Chris Donahue, chief executive officer at Pittsburgh-based Federated, which manages $240 billion in money-fund assets, doesn't offer such a fund. He said the product might grow more attractive in coming years. "In a different rate environment, that would work," Donahue said during a July 25 earnings call. "And its economics would be very comparable to the current fund." ... Corporations that park cash in money funds will eventually divide it into ones maintaining a stable $1 share price and those whose share prices float but earn a higher yield by investing in riskier corporate debt, Lynagh said. "This is where the industry will begin to differentiate itself," he said.
Crane Data published its latest Money Fund Intelligence Family & Global Rankings Wednesday, which ranks the asset totals and market share of managers of money funds in the U.S. and globally. The September edition, with data as of August 31, shows sizeable asset increases for the majority of money fund complexes in the latest month, and modest gains over the past three months and year. This comes after several months of decreases. (These "Family" rankings are available to our Money Fund Wisdom subscribers.) JP Morgan, BlackRock, Federated, Fidelity, and Morgan Stanley were the biggest gainers in August, rising by $7.3 billion, $6.9 billion, $5.5 billion, $5.3 billion, and $4.8 billion respectively, while Morgan Stanley, BofA Funds, Wells Fargo, Franklin, and Fidelity led the increases over the 3 months through August 31, 2014, rising by $4.2B, $3.8B, $2.5B, $2.3B, and $1.5 billion respectively. Money fund assets overall jumped by $40.8 billion in August, increased by $6.6 billion over the last three months, and increased by $15.2 billion over the past 12 months (according to our Money Fund Intelligence XLS).
Our latest domestic U.S. money fund Family Rankings show that Fidelity Investments remained the largest money fund manager with $410.0 billion, or 16.4% of all assets (up $5.3B in August, up $1.5B over 3 mos. and down $16.9B over 12 months), followed by JPMorgan's $238.5 billion, or 9.5% (up $7.3B, down $269M, and down $908M for the past 1-month, 3-months and 12-months, respectively). Federated Investors ranks third with $202.4 billion, or 8.1% of assets (up $5.5B, down $1.8B, and down $20.0B), BlackRock ranks fourth with $188.4 billion, or 7.5% of assets (up $6.9B, down $1.4B, and up $41.4B), and Vanguard ranks fifth with $171.9 billion, or 6.9% (up $592M, down $125M, and down $1.7B).
The sixth through tenth largest U.S. managers include: Schwab ($159.6B, 6.5%), Dreyfus ($157.0B, or 6.3%), Goldman Sachs ($133.3B, or 5.3%), Wells Fargo ($111.9B, or 4.5%), and Morgan Stanley ($106.1B, or 4.2%). The eleventh through twentieth largest U.S. money fund managers (in order) include: SSgA ($83.1B, or 3.3%), Northern ($76.2B, or 3.0%), Invesco ($59.5B, or 2.4%), BofA ($50.7B, or 2.0%), Western Asset ($40.7B, or 1.6%), UBS ($36.3B, or 1.5%), First American ($36.1B, or 1.4%), Deutsche ($32.2B, or 1.3%), Franklin ($20.7B, or 0.8%), and RBC ($18.2B, or 0.7%). Crane Data currently tracks 74 managers, the same number as last month.
Over the past year, BlackRock showed the largest asset increase (up $41.4B, or 28.3%; note that most of this though is due to the addition of securities lending shares to our collections), followed by Goldman Sachs (up $12.8B, or 10.0%), and Morgan Stanley (up $11.4B, or 12.1%). Other gainers since August 31, 2013, include: BofA (up $9.4B, or 22.2%), SSgA (up $6.6B, or 8.6%), American Funds (up $4.3B, or 30.9%), and SEI (up $1.7B, or 14.8%). The biggest declines over 12 months include: Federated (down $20.0B, or -9.1%), Fidelity (down $16.9B, or -4.0%), UBS (down $11.1B, or -22.8%), and Deutsche (down $7.8B, or -18.6%). (Note that money fund assets are very volatile month to month.)
When "offshore" money fund assets -- those domiciled in places like Dublin, Luxembourg, and the Cayman Islands -- are included, the top 10 managers match the U.S. list, except for BlackRock moving up to No. 3, Goldman moving up to No. 4, and Western Asset appearing on the list at No. 9. (displacing Wells Fargo from the Top 10). Looking at these largest Global Money Fund Manager Rankings, the combined market share assets of our MFI XLS (domestic U.S.) and our MFI International ("offshore), we show these largest families: Fidelity ($416.4 billion), JPMorgan ($361.4 billion), BlackRock ($311.2 billion), Goldman Sachs ($213.8 billion), and Federated ($210.9 billion). Dreyfus ($180.9B), Vanguard ($171.9B), Schwab ($160.8B), Western ($137.6B), and Morgan Stanley ($125.3B) round out the top 10. These totals include offshore US dollar funds, as well as Euro and Sterling funds converted into US dollar totals.
In other news, our August 2014 Money Fund Intelligence and MFI XLS show that both net and gross yields remained at record lows for the month ended August 31, 2014. Our Crane Money Fund Average, which includes all taxable funds covered by Crane Data (currently 848), remained at a record low of 0.01% for both the 7-Day and 30-Day Yield (annualized, net) averages. (The Gross 7-Day Yield was also unchanged at 0.13%.) Our Crane 100 Money Fund Index shows an average yield (7-Day and 30-Day) of 0.02%, also a record low, down from 0.03% a year ago. (The Gross 7- and 30-Day Yields for the Crane 100 remained unchanged at 0.16%.) For the 12 month return through 8/31/14, our Crane MF Average returned a record low of 0.01% and our Crane 100 returned 0.02%.
Our Prime Institutional MF Index yielded 0.02% (7-day), the Crane Govt Inst Index yielded 0.01%, and the Crane Treasury Inst, Treasury Retail, Govt Retail and Prime Retail Indexes all yielded 0.01%. The Crane Tax Exempt MF Index also yielded 0.01%. (The Gross Yields for these indexes were: Prime 0.18%, Govt 0.9%, Treasury 0.06%, and Tax Exempt 0.12% in August.) The Crane 100 MF Index returned on average 0.00% for 1-month, 0.00% for 3-month, 0.01% for YTD, 0.02% for 1-year, 0.04% for 3-years (annualized), 0.05% for 5-year, and 1.61% for 10-years.
Crane Data published its latest Money Fund Intelligence Family & Global Rankings yesterday, which ranks the asset totals and market share of managers of money funds in the U.S. and globally. The August edition, with data as of July 31, shows continued moderate asset decreases for the majority of money fund complexes in the latest month, and over the past three months, but assets have been virually flat over the past year. (These "Family" rankings are available to our Money Fund Wisdom subscribers.) Schwab, Northern, Franklin, and BofA were some of the few that showed gains in July, rising by $1.4 billion, $1.4 billion, $1.3 billion, and $1.3 billion respectively, while Goldman Sachs, BofA Funds, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo and SSgA led the increases over the 3 months through July 31, 2014, rising by $6.6B, $4.3B, $2.5B, $1.9B, and $1.8B, respectively. Money fund assets overall decreased by $21.8 billion in July, decreased by $29.5 billion over the last three months, but fell by just $2.4 billion over the past 12 months (according to our Money Fund Intelligence XLS).
Our latest domestic U.S. money fund Family Rankings show that Fidelity Investments remained the largest money fund manager with $404.7 billion, or 16.5% of all assets (down $440M in July, down $3.9B over 3 mos. and down $14.9B over 12 months), followed by JPMorgan's $231.2 billion, or 9.4% (down $7.0B, down $9.2B, and up 2.1B for the past 1-month, 3-months and 12-months, respectively). Federated Investors ranks third with $196.9 billion, or 8.0% of assets (down $5.0B, down $13.7B, and down $23.4B), BlackRock ranks fourth with $181.6 billion, or 7.4% of assets (down $2.7B, down $10.4B, and up $35.4B), and Vanguard ranks fifth with $171.3 billion, or 7.0% (up $495M, down $797M, and up $148M).
The sixth through tenth largest U.S. managers include: Schwab ($159.6B, 6.5%), Dreyfus ($153.4B, or 6.2%), Goldman Sachs ($135.0B, or 5.5%), Wells Fargo ($108.5B, or 4.4%), and Morgan Stanley ($101.4B, or 4.1%). The eleventh through twentieth largest U.S. money fund managers (in order) include: SSgA ($82.0B, or 3.3%), Northern ($75.9B, or 3.1%), Invesco ($59.3B, or 2.4%), BofA ($48.0B, or 2.0%), Western Asset ($40.1B, or 1.6%), UBS ($37.2B, or 1.5%), First American ($36.6B, or 1.5%), Deutsche ($33.1B, or 1.3%), Franklin ($19.7B, or 0.8%), and RBC ($18.7B, or 0.8%). Crane Data currently tracks 74 managers, down one from last month.
Over the past year, BlackRock showed the largest asset increase (up $35.4B, or 24.7%; note that most of this is due to the addition of securities lending shares to our collections), followed by Goldman Sachs (up $6.9B, or 4.9%), and Morgan Stanley (up $6.7B, or 7.2%). Other gainers since July 31, 2013, include: BofA (up $5.9B, or 13.9%), SSgA (up $5.6B, or 7.4%) American Funds (up $4.0B, or 30.0%), and JPMorgan (up $2.1B, or 0.9%). The biggest declines over 12 months include: Federated (down $23.4B, or -10.6%), Fidelity (down $14.9B, or -3.6%), UBS (down $11.6B, or -22.4%), and Deutsche (down $9.0B, or -21.4%). (Note that money fund assets are very volatile month to month.)
When "offshore" money fund assets -- those domiciled in places like Dublin, Luxembourg, and the Cayman Islands -- are included, the top 10 managers match the U.S. list, except for BlackRock moving up to No. 3, Goldman moving up to No. 4, and Western Asset appearing on the list at No. 9. (displacing Wells Fargo from the Top 10). Looking at these largest Global Money Fund Manager Rankings, the combined market share assets of our MFI XLS (domestic U.S.) and our MFI International ("offshore), we show these largest families: Fidelity ($410.7 billion), JPMorgan ($354.3 billion), BlackRock ($297.5 billion), Goldman Sachs ($214.9 billion), and Federated ($206.3 billion). Dreyfus ($178.2B), Vanguard ($171.3B), Schwab ($159.6B), Western ($132.7B), and Morgan Stanley ($120.4B) round out the top 10. These totals include offshore US dollar funds, as well as Euro and Sterling funds converted into US dollar totals.
In other news, our August 2014 MFI and MFI XLS show that both net and gross yields remained at record lows for the month ended July 31, 2014. Our Crane Money Fund Average, which includes all taxable funds covered by Crane Data (currently 841), remained at a record low of 0.01% for both the 7-Day and 30-Day Yield (annualized, net) averages. (The Gross 7-Day Yield was also unchanged at 0.13%.) Our Crane 100 Money Fund Index shows an average yield (7-Day and 30-Day) of 0.02%, also a record low, down from 0.03% a year ago. (The Gross 7- and 30-Day Yields for the Crane 100 remained unchanged at 0.16%.) For the 12 month return through 7/31/14, our Crane MF Average returned a record low of 0.01% and our Crane 100 returned 0.02%.
Our Prime Institutional MF Index yielded 0.02% (7-day), the Crane Govt Inst Index yielded 0.01%, and the Crane Treasury Inst, Treasury Retail, Govt Retail and Prime Retail Indexes all yielded 0.01%. The Crane Tax Exempt MF Index also yielded 0.01%. (The Gross Yields for these indexes were: Prime 0.18%, Govt 0.10%, Treasury 0.06%, and Tax Exempt 0.13% in July.) The Crane 100 MF Index returned on average 0.00% for 1-month, 0.00% for 3-month, 0.01% for YTD, 0.02% for 1-year, 0.04% for 3-years (annualized), 0.06% for 5-year, and 1.62% for 10-years.
In other news, ICI released its latest "Money Market Fund Assets" report, which showed money funds increasing for the second week in a row (up $23.3 billion in 2 weeks). It says, "Total money market fund assets increased by $10.51 billion to $2.58 trillion for the week ended Wednesday, August 13, the Investment Company Institute reported today. Among taxable money market funds, Treasury funds (including agency and repo) increased by $8.15 billion and prime funds increased by $2.93 billion. Tax-exempt money market funds decreased by $570 million." Year-to-date, money fund assets have declined by $141 billion, or 5.2 percent.
The release continues, "Assets of retail money market funds increased by $1.22 billion to $906.60 billion. Among retail funds, Treasury money market fund assets increased by $220 million to $202.88 billion, prime money market fund assets increased by $1.33 billion to $517.03 billion, and tax-exempt fund assets decreased by $340 million to $186.69 billion. Assets of institutional money market funds increased by $9.30 billion to $1.67 trillion. Among institutional funds, Treasury money market fund assets increased by $7.93 billion to $714.58 billion, prime money market fund assets increased by $1.60 billion to $884.46 billion, and tax-exempt fund assets decreased by $240 million to $71.80 billion."
Preparations are being made for our 2nd annual Crane's European Money Fund Symposium, which will be held Sept. 22-23, 2014 at the Hilton London Tower Bridge in London, England. Crane Data has attracted 20 sponsors for the event so far, and we expect our second "offshore" money fund conference to again be the largest gathering of money fund professionals outside the U.S. European Money Fund Symposium features an unmatched speaking faculty, including many of the world's foremost authorities on money funds in Europe and worldwide. We review the latest conference agenda and details below. (Visit www.euromfs.com to register, or contact us to request the PDF brochure or for more details.)
President Peter Crane comments, "Crane Data's first European event, held last September in Dublin, attracted 100 attendees, sponsors and speakers, and our latest U.S. Money Fund Symposium attracted almost 500. We expect our London event to be even bigger and better than Dublin. European Money Fund Symposium offers "offshore" money market portfolio managers and professionals, investors, issuers, dealers, regulators and service providers a concentrated and affordable educational experience, as well as an excellent and informal networking venue. Our mission is to deliver great conference content at an affordable price. With the recent passage of the SEC's Money Fund Reforms and pending regulatory changes in Europe, we expect that there will be a lot to talk about."
The Day One morning Agenda for Crane's European Money Fund Symposium includes: "State of MMFs in Europe & IMMFA Update" with Jonathan Curry, Chairman, IMMFA and Susan Hindle Barone, Secretary General, IMMFA; "Regulations in Europe: Bullet Dodged?" with Dan Morrissey of William Fry and Paul Wilson of SWIP; "Senior Portfolio Manager Perspectives," moderated by Yaron Ernst of Moody's Investor's Service and featuring Debbie Cunningham of Federated Investors, Joe McConnell of J.P. Morgan Asset Mgmt, and Jennifer Gillespie of Legal & General I.M.
The afternoon of Sept. 22 features: "MM Securities: New Sources of Supply," moderated by Laurie Brignac of Invesco and featuring Kieran Davis of Barclays, David Hynes of Northcross Capital LLP, and Jean-Luc Sinniger of Citi Global Markets; "Portals, Transparency & Investor Issues," with Greg Fortuna of State Street's Fund Connect, Justin Meadows of MyTreasury, and Maryum Malik of SunGard; "Accounting and Floating NAV Issues" with Sarah Murphy and Ken Owens of PwC Dublin; and an "Ireland & IFIA Update" with Kevin Murphy of Arthur Cox.
The Day Two Agenda includes: "MM Strategists Speak: Rates, Regulations, Risks" with Giuseppe Maraffino of Barclays and Vikram Rai of Citi; "Distribution: Major Issues & Client Concerns moderated by Peter Crane with Jim Fuell of J.P. Morgan A.M., Kathleen Hughes of Goldman Sachs A.M., and Kevin Thompson of SSgA; "Recent Ratings Research: Trends & Issues" with Yaron Ernst of Moody's; "State of US Money Funds & Rule 2a-7" with Charlie Cardona of BNY Mellon Cash Investment Strategies, Jane Heinrichs of the Investment Company Institute, and John Hunt of Nutter, McClennen & Fish; "Euro & Sterling MMF Issues" with David Callahan of Lombard Odier I.M. and Dennis Gepp of Federated Investors (UK) LLP; "Beyond MMFs: Enhanced Cash Strategies" with James Finch of UBS Global Asset Mgmt, Jason Granet of Goldman Sachs A.M., and Guyna Johnson of Standard & Poor's; "MMFs in Asia & Emerging Markets" with Peter Crane of Crane Data and Andrew Paranthoiene of Standard & Poor's; and "Offshore Money Fund Data & Statistics with Crane and Aymeric Poizot of Fitch Ratings.
Sponsors of the event and exhibitors to date include: HSBC Global Asset Management, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, Moody's Investors Service, BofA Global Capital Management, Federated Investors, Standard & Poor's, State Street Global Advisors, BNY Mellon Liquidity Funds, Cachematrix, Invesco, R.P. Martin, MyTreasury, Northcross Capital, Nutter, McClennen & Fish, UBS, Treasury Management International, and Treasury Today. Registration for the 2014 Crane's European Money Fund Symposium is $1,500 (or 900 GBP), and registrations are still being accepted. A block of sleeping rooms has been reserved at The Hilton London Tower Bridge, and the conference negotiated rate of L261 (GBP) single and L272 (GBP) double are available through August 20th. (Please reserve soon as the hotel is sold out outside of our block and won't guarantee the rate beyond Aug. 20.) We hope to see you next month in London!
Crane Data publishes Money Fund Intelligence and produces the largest annual gathering of money market professionals in the world, Crane's Money Fund Symposium. (We had 495 this past June in Boston.) Our next U.S. Symposium is scheduled for June 24-26, 2015 in Minneapolis, Minn., and our next "basic training" event, Money Fund University is scheduled for January 22-23, 2015, in Stamford, Conn. Note: Our 2015 European Money Fund Symposium is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 21-22 in Dublin, Ireland, so mark your calendars.
The Wall Street Journal writes "The Safety and the Risk in Ultrashort Bond Funds". It says, "Ultrashort-term bond funds are a popular haven for investors looking to earn more than the near-zero yields of money-market mutual funds -- without locking up their money in a certificate of deposit or taking a lot of interest-rate risk with longer-term debt funds. The question now is how these funds will perform when interest rates eventually rise and whether the funds will see an exodus of investors. Investors pumped nearly $2.5 billion in net new cash into ultrashort bond mutual funds in the first half of 2014, boosting their assets to $64.45 billion, according to Chicago-based investment researcher Morningstar. That comes after net inflows of nearly $10.7 billion and $9.5 billion in 2013 and 2012, respectively.... Most observers expect the Federal Reserve to begin lifting short-term rates sometime next year. Ultrashort funds should be able to reinvest maturing debt at higher yields when rates rise. Still, prices could fall somewhat, unlike those of money funds, which almost always stay at a steady $1 a share. "These are not money-market funds. You could see modest losses," Ms. Bush says. Many investors lost money in the funds in the 2008 financial crisis, when bonds that the funds held defaulted or were downgraded. The average ultrashort fund lost 7.9% that year, according to Morningstar. But some funds had taken on more risk than investors expected, with holdings in longer-term debt or mortgage bonds, and some lost more than 30% of their value.... Still, by keeping interest rates artificially low, the Fed has created a scenario in which money may flood out of ultrashort funds, believes Peter Crane of Crane Data, a research firm in Westboro, Mass., that focuses on money-market funds. The Fed's aggressive approach to keeping rates very low drove "the wrong kind of people" into bond funds from safer money-market funds, he contends. "You have all these retirees who just need income," Mr. Crane says. "They don't understand the principal risk." If ultrashort funds suffer a small loss due to rising rates, these investors will be surprised and begin to sell, compounding those losses, he says."
The August issue of Crane Data's Money Fund Intelligence was sent out to subscribers on Thursday. (Sorry about the delay; we had some e-mail issues Thursday.) The latest edition of our flagship monthly newsletter features the articles: "SEC Passes MMF Reform on Split Vote: Combo is Coming," which discusses the adoption of money market fund reforms by a count of 3-2; "Chair White's Statement on New MMF Reforms," which excerpts SEC Chair Mary Jo White's discussion of the reforms; and, "Modest Outflows Expected from Reforms; 3 Questions," which examines the implications of the MMF reforms on fund flows. We also updated our Money Fund Wisdom database query system with July 31, 2014, performance statistics and rankings late last night, and we also sent out our MFI XLS spreadsheet this a.m. (MFI, MFI XLS and our Crane Index products are available to subscribers at our Content center.) Our July 31 Money Fund Portfolio Holdings data are scheduled to go out on Monday, August 11.
The latest MFI newsletter's lead article comments, "By a vote of 3-2, the SEC adopted long-awaited and much discussed reforms for the $2.6 trillion money market industry on July 23rd. "The amendments make structural and operational reforms to address risks of investor runs in money market funds, while preserving the benefits of the funds," stated the SEC in a press release. We distill the SEC's 869-page reform proposal down to the highlights. Chair Mary Jo White, along with Commissioners Luis Aguilar and Daniel Gallagher, voted in favor of the reform package. Commissioners Kara Stein and Michael Piwowar voted in opposition. Here's what they adopted."
The article explains, "Floating NAV -- Institutional Prime MMFs (including Inst Muni MMFs) are required to maintain a floating net asset value for sales and redemptions based on the current market value of the securities in their portfolios rounded to the fourth decimal place. The requirement would result in the daily share prices of the money market funds fluctuating along with changes in the market-based value of the funds' investments. These funds no longer will be allowed to use the special pricing and valuation conventions that currently permit them to maintain a constant share price of $1.00. Also, the U.S. Dept. of the Treasury and the IRS proposed new regulations to allow floating NAV MMF investors to use a simplified tax accounting method to track gains and losses."
Our monthly "profile" says, "At the Open Meeting of the Securities and Exchange Commission on July 23, the SEC voted to adopt its proposal to reform money market funds. Here are excerpts from Chair White's statement." White said: "Today's reforms will fundamentally change the way that most money market funds operate. They will reduce the risk of runs in money market funds and provide important new tools that will help further protect investors and the financial system in a crisis. Together, this strong reform package will make our financial system more resilient and enhance the transparency and fairness of these products for America's investors."
She continued, "Over the last several decades, money market funds have become a critical part of the American economy, providing an important source of short-term financing for issuers, including American businesses, state and local governments, and other market participants. Today, nearly $3 trillion is invested in money market funds, much of it in institutional prime funds held by investors such as pension funds and corporations. Issuers and investors now rely daily on money market funds, and the benefits of such funds are significant."
The August MFI article on `Modest Outflows Expected from Reforms; 3 Questions asks, "How much money could leave Prime Institutional money funds? How likely is a 30% (or 10%) liquidity buffer breach (and how likely will boards be to use gates and fees at these points)? Will the floating NAV actually float? These are what we see as the 3 most important questions fund companies and investors are asking as the money fund industry begins preparing for the SEC's Money Fund Reforms in August 2016. We examine these below."
Crane Data's August MFI with July 31, 2014, data shows total assets decreasing by $19.8 billion (after decreasing by $13.4 billion in June, rising $10.9 billion in May, and falling by $59.5 billion in April) to $2.461 trillion (1,238 funds, 10 fewer than last month). Our broad Crane Money Fund Average 7-Day Yield and 30-Day Yield remained at a record low 0.01% while our Crane 100 Money Fund Index (the 100 largest taxable funds) yielded 0.02% (7-day and 30-day). On a Gross Yield Basis (before expenses were taken out), funds averaged 0.13% (Crane MFA, unchanged) and 0.16% (Crane 100) on an annualized basis for both the 7-day and 30-day yield averages. (Charged Expenses averaged 0.12% and 0.14% for the two main taxable averages.) The average WAM for the Crane MFA and the Crane 100 were 42 and 45 days, respectively, increasing 1 day from the prior month for the Crane 100. (See our Crane Index or craneindexes.xlsx history file for more on our averages.)
Finally, the final agenda was sent out to subscribers for our European Money Fund Symposium, which will take place Sept. 22-23 in London at the Hilton London Tower Bridge. Though there has been no word from European regulators and the newly elected European Parlaiment has yet to even commence, we expect them to eventually craft legislation similar to the SEC's. This will be a main topic of discussion at Euro MFS, along with other issues impacting Euro, Sterling, USD and "offshore" money market funds domiciled in Dublin, Luxembourg and other European and global financial centers.
Crane Data released its July Money Fund Portfolio Holdings Friday, and our latest collection of taxable money market securities, with data as of June 30, 2014, shows a big jump in Repos, and a big drop in Other (Time Deposits), CP and CDs. Money market securities held by Taxable U.S. money funds overall (those tracked by Crane Data) decreased by $18.0 billion in June to $2.370 trillion. Portfolio assets also decreased by $3.7 billion in May, $39.1 billion in April, and $43.0 billion in March. Repos again surpassed CDs as the largest portfolio composition segment among taxable money funds, followed by Treasuries, then by CP, Agencies, Other, and VRDNs. Money funds' European-affiliated holdings plunged to 23.5% of holdings (down sharply from 30.8% last month), primarily due to a record spike in holdings of the NY Fed's RRP (repo) program. Below, we review our latest Money Fund Portfolio Holdings statistics.
Among all taxable money funds, Repurchase agreement (repo) holdings jumped by $76.1 billion to $591.5 billion, or 25.0% of fund assets, after rising $32.9 billion in May. (Holdings of Federal Reserve Bank of New York repo rose $148.3 billion to a record $274.5 billion.) Certificates of Deposit (CDs) dropped in June, decreasing $17.4 billion to $550.7 billion, or 23.2% of holdings. Treasury holdings, now the third largest segment, increased by $4.8 billion to $390.6 billion (16.5% of holdings). Commercial Paper (CP), which dropped to the fourth largest segment, decreased by $30.9 billion to $363.0 billion (15.3% of holdings). Government Agency Debt was up $8.5 billion. Agencies now total $322.1 billion (13.6% of assets). Other holdings, which include primarily Time Deposits, dropped sharply (down $55.7 billion) to $120.2 billion (5.1% of assets). VRDNs held by taxable funds decreased by $3.3 billion to $32.3 billion (1.4% of assets).
Among Prime money funds, CDs still represent over one-third of holdings with 37.2% (down from 36.5% a month ago), followed by Commercial Paper (24.5%, down from 27.2%). The CP totals are primarily Financial Company CP (14.5% of holdings) with Asset-Backed CP making up 6.0% and Other CP (non-financial) making up 4.0%. Prime funds also hold 5.4% in Agencies (up from 4.9%), 4.2% in Treasury Debt (up from 4.0%), 2.0% in Other Instruments, and 4.8% in Other Notes. Prime money fund holdings tracked by Crane Data total $1.481 trillion (down from $1.505), or 62.5% of taxable money fund holdings' total of $2.370 trillion.
Government fund portfolio assets totaled $431.6 billion, down from $436.8 billion last month, while Treasury money fund assets totaled $457.7 billion, up from from $444.5 billion at the end of May. Government money fund portfolios were made up of 55.4% Agency securities, 20.9% Government Agency Repo, 4.5% Treasury debt, and 18.5% Treasury Repo. Treasury money funds were comprised of 67.7% Treasury debt and 31.4% Treasury Repo.
European-affiliated holdings decreased $175.8 billion in June to $558.0 billion (among all taxable funds and including repos); their share of holdings is now 23.5%. Eurozone-affiliated holdings also fell (down $93.3 billion) to $324.0 billion in June; they now account for 13.7% of overall taxable money fund holdings. Asia & Pacific related holdings rose by $7.5 billion to $291.5 billion (12.3% of the total), while Americas related holdings increased $153.0 billion to $1.520 trillion (64.1% of holdings).
The overall taxable fund Repo totals were made up of: Treasury Repurchase Agreements (up $93.1 billion to $353.6 billion, or 14.9% of assets), Government Agency Repurchase Agreements (down $16.9 billion to $154.2 billion, or 6.5% of total holdings), and Other Repurchase Agreements (down $142 million to $83.7 billion, or 3.5% of holdings). The Commercial Paper totals were comprised of Financial Company Commercial Paper (down $26.4 billion to $214.4 billion, or 9.0% of assets), Asset Backed Commercial Paper (down $683 million to $89.4 billion, or 3.8%), and Other Commercial Paper (down $3.9 billion to $59.2 billion, or 2.5%).
The 20 largest Issuers to taxable money market funds as of June 30, 2014, include: the US Treasury ($390.6 billion, or 16.5%), Federal Reserve Bank of New York ($274.5B, 11.6%), Federal Home Loan Bank ($196.1B, 8.3%), BNP Paribas ($60.1B, 2.5%), Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd ($59.5B, 2.5%), Bank of Nova Scotia ($57.4B, 2.4%), RBC ($53.0B, 2.2%), JP Morgan ($51.9B, 2.2%), Wells Fargo ($51.3, 2.2%), Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Co ($47.6B, 2.0%), Citi ($46.5B, 2.0%), Credit Agricole ($45.1B, 1.9%), Federal Home Loan Mortgage Co ($44.8B, 1.9%), Credit Suisse ($42.4B, 1.8%), Federal National Mortgage Association ($41.5B, 1.8%), Bank of America ($40.0B, 1.7%), Toronto-Dominion ($39.7B, 1.7%), Federal Farm Credit Bank ($36.7B, 1.6%), Natixis ($35.3B, 1.5%) and Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd. ($32.9B, 1.4%).
In the repo space, Federal Reserve Bank of New York's RPP program issuance (held by MMFs) remained the largest program by far with 46.4% of the repo market. The 10 largest Repo issuers (dealers) (with the amount of repo outstanding and market share among the money funds we track) include: Federal Reserve Bank of New York ($274.5B, 46.4%), BNP Paribas ($32.7B, 5.5%), Bank of America ($30.1B, 5.1%), RBC ($23.6B, 4.0%), Wells Fargo ($20.2B, 3.4%), JP Morgan ($19.7B, 3.3%), Credit Suisse ($19.6B, 3.3%), Barclays ($19.6B, 3.3%), Citi ($18.3B, 3.1%), and Credit Agricole ($16.9B, 2.9%). Crane Data shows 82 funds participating in the NY Fed repo program with 2 money funds maxing out the Fed program with $10 billion, and 8 more holdings over $7 billion (the previous cap). The largest Fed repo holders include: State Street Inst Lq Res, Western Asset Inst Lq Res, Federated Trs Oblg, Goldman Sachs FS Trs Obl Inst, Dreyfus Tr&Ag Cash Mgmt Inst, Morgan Stanley Inst Liq Trs, JP Morgan Prime MM, Morgan Stanley Inst Lq Gvt, Northern Trust Trs MMkt, and BlackRock Lq T-Fund.
The 10 largest CD issuers include: Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd ($41.3B, 7.5%), Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Co ($39.6B, 7.2%), Bank of Nova Scotia ($36.4B, 6.7%), Toronto-Dominion Bank ($33.4B, 6.1%), Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd ($26.9B, 4.9%), Bank of Montreal ($23.2B, 4.2%), Rabobank ($22.9B, 4.2%), Wells Fargo ($22.6B, 4.1%), Citi ($20.9B, 3.8%), and Natixis ($20.5B, 3.7%).
The 10 largest CP issuers (we include affiliated ABCP programs) include: JP Morgan ($22.1B, 7.1%), Westpac Banking Co ($16.0B, 5.1%), Commonwealth Bank of Australia ($15.6B, 5.0%), RBC ($11.6B, 3.7%), Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB ($10.6B, 3.4%), BNP Paribas ($10.4B, 3.3%), HSBC ($9.8B, 3.2%), FMS Wertmanagement ($9.5B, 3.1%), Australia & New Zealand Banking Group ($9.5B, 3.0%), and National Australia Bank Ltd. ($8.6B, 2.8%).
The largest increases among Issuers include: Federal Reserve Bank of New York (up $148.3B to $274.5B), Federal Home Loan Bank (up $10.6B to $196.1B), State Street (up $4.6B to $11.3B), US Treasury (up $4.1B to $390.6B), Toronto-Dominion Bank (up $3.9B to $39.7B), and Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd. (up $2.7B to $47.6B). The largest decreases among Issuers of money market securities (including Repo) in June were shown by: Deutsche Bank AG (down $25.1B to $27.0B), Barclays PLC (down $22.3B to $29.8B), Societe Generale (down $16.5B to $23.9B), DnB NOR Bank ASA (down $16.4B to $12.3B), Credit Agricole (down $13.7B to $45.7B), and BNP Paribas (down $12.1B to $60.1B).
The United States remained the largest segment of country-affiliations; it now represents 54.9% of holdings, or $1.302 trillion. Canada (9.1%, $216.5B) moved into second place ahead of France (7.7%, $183.5B). Japan (7.6%, $180.4B) remained the fourth largest country affiliated with money fund securities. Sweden (3.7%, $87.9B) moved up to fifth place, ahead of Australia (3.5%, $83.7B) and the U.K. (3.2%, $76.1B). The Netherlands (3.1%, $74.9B) ranked 8th while Germany (2.5%, $59.7B) dropped to 9th place. Switzerland (2.4%, $57.4B) was tenth among country affiliations. (Note: Crane Data attributes Treasury and Government repo to the dealer's parent country of origin, though money funds themselves "look-through" and consider these U.S. government securities. All money market securities must be U.S. dollar-denominated.)
As of June 30, 2014, Taxable money funds held 25.2% of their assets in securities maturing Overnight, and another 12.1% maturing in 2-7 days (37.3% total in 1-7 days). Another 19.7% matures in 8-30 days, while 25.8% matures in the 31-90 day period. The next bucket, 91-180 days, holds 13.6% of taxable securities, and just 3.6% matures beyond 180 days.
Crane Data's Taxable MF Portfolio Holdings (and Money Fund Portfolio Laboratory) were updated Friday, and our MFI International "offshore" Portfolio Holdings will be updated Wednesday (the Tax Exempt MF Holdings will be released late Monday). Visit our Content center to download files or visit our Portfolio Laboratory to access our "transparency" module. Contact us if you'd like to see a sample of our latest Portfolio Holdings Reports or our new Reports Issuer Module.
The July issue of Crane Data's Money Fund Intelligence was sent out to subscribers on Tuesday morning. The latest edition of our flagship monthly newsletter features the articles: MMF Reform Regulations Delayed; Stalemate Part II?," which discusses the delay and possible stalemate of money market reform; "Fidelity's Nancy Prior Says Black Clouds Parting," which summarizes the keynote speech from Fidelity's top money fund leader; and, "State of Money Funds: Highlights of Symposium," which reviews a number of sessions from our recent Money Fund Symposium conference. We also updated our Money Fund Wisdom database query system with June 30, 2014, performance statistics and rankings late Monday night, and will send out our MFI XLS spreadsheet Tuesday a.m. (MFI, MFI XLS and our Crane Index products are available to subscribers at our Content center.) Our June 30 Money Fund Portfolio Holdings data are scheduled to go out on Thursday, July 10.
The latest MFI newsletter's lead article comments, "Though SEC Chair Mary Jo White has repeatedly said Money Market Fund Reforms are coming in the "very near term," recent press reports and discussions among money fund managers and lawyers indicate that it could be months more before we see any final rules. Some are even predicting an indefinite stalemate. We still believe that dropping the floating NAV, or using it only after a threshold is broken, is the only path forward, given the lack of progress with the IRS over 'de minimis' gains issues."
The article explains, "Last month, The Wall Street Journal wrote in "SEC Divided on Money-Market Fund Rules," broke the news that it may be some time before we see money market fund reforms. The Journal article commented, "Six years after money-market mutual funds became a source of vulnerability in the financial crisis, U.S. securities regulators are still hashing out how to limit the risks they pose to the financial system. Tighter rules might not be finalized for several months, according to people familiar with the process.""
Our monthly "profile" piece says, "Nancy Prior, President of Fidelity Investments' Fixed-Income unit, gave the keynote address, entitled, "Money Market Funds: Past and Future," at Crane's Money Fund Symposium, late last month. We excerpt from the text of the speech below. Prior comments, "At long last, it appears we're getting close to the much-anticipated, long-awaited announcement of new money market fund rules from the Securities & Exchange Commission."
She continues, "The skies appear finally to be brightening after what seems like one long, gloomy winter. For the past 5 1/2 years, the money market mutual fund industry has been ... you can pick your metaphor here: Embattled, Under siege, Under a cloud.... Suffice it to say, the past few years have just not been a whole lot of fun. In addition to a very challenging, uncertain regulatory environment, we have had to manage through a prolonged and unprecedented period of extraordinarily low interest rates. Given all of this, it's not surprising that some financial writers predicted that money market mutual funds would not make it through this gauntlet."
The July MFI article on State of Money Funds: Highlights of Symposium explains, "Crane's Money Fund Symposium, held June 23-25 at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel, featured record attendance with approximately 500 attendees, speakers, and sponsors. It also earned rave reviews for its content, which delved into the major issues on the money fund landscape. Here are some of the highlights."
Crane Data's July MFI with June 30, 2014, data shows total assets decreasing by $13.4 billion (after rising $10.9 billion in May, falling by $59.5 billion in April and $25.9 billion in March) to $2.479 trillion (1,248 funds, down from 1,255 last month). Our broad Crane Money Fund Average 7-Day Yield and 30-Day Yield remained at a record low 0.01% while our Crane 100 Money Fund Index (the 100 largest taxable funds) yielded 0.02% (7-day and 30-day). On a Gross Yield Basis (before expenses were taken out), funds averaged 0.13% (Crane MFA, unchanged) and 0.16% (Crane 100) on an annualized basis for both the 7-day and 30-day yield averages. (Charged Expenses averaged 0.12% and 0.14% for the two main taxable averages.) The average WAM for the Crane MFA and the Crane 100 were 41 and 43 days, respectively, unchanged from the prior month. (See our Crane Index or craneindexes.xlsx history file for more on our averages.)
Crane Data's 6th annual Money Fund Symposium starts Monday, June 23 and runs through June 25 at The Renaissance Boston Waterfront. Crane's Money Fund Symposium is the largest gathering of money market mutual fund managers and cash investors in the world. Last summer's event in Baltimore attracted over 450 attendees, and we expect almost 500 to gather in Boston this week. See the agenda and more details on the Symposium website (www.moneyfundsymposium.com). Watch for coverage of the event in coming days and excerpts from Monday's keynote speech by Fidelity Investment's Nancy Prior, "Money Market Funds - Past & Future." (Note: For those that can't make it this week, next year's Symposium will be in Minneapolis, June 24-26. Note also: Registered attendees and subscribers may access the current binder at the bottom of our "Content" page in our "Conference materials" section.) We look forward to seeing you in Boston!
In other news, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's (FRBNY) daily reverse repurchase agreement (RRP) drove significant shifts in investment allocations by money funds that invest exclusively in Treasury and agency securities, either directly or through repos (government MMFs). Between September 2013 and May 2014, total FRBNY RRP investments by government MMFs (repos) rose by $65 billion, while combined Treasury and agency repo holdings with broker-dealers as counterparties fell by $38 billion, according to a new report by Fitch Ratings, "Reverse Repo Program Gains Influence."
Says Fitch: "This trend likely reflects growing comfort with the operations of the RRP program and more attractive rates. Decreasing reliance on repo funding among dealers also reflected the effects of Basel III regulatory considerations, as banks have been forced to re-assess the economics of short-term wholesale funding."
The report continues: "The RRP program, which may ultimately serve as a primary tool for the Fed to influence short-term interest rates, grew in size as the overnight rate (now 5 bps) and the counterparty allocation limit (now $10 billion) have risen. Growth in participation was evident across the universe of government MMFs, which had Fed RRP holdings totaling $87 billion as of May 31, compared with $21 billion on Sept. 30, 2013. RRP volumes have fallen off markedly since mid-May as repo rates have risen, providing more attractive investment alternatives for money funds. However, the test evidenced the RRP program's ability to "set a floor under money market rates," as FRBNY Chairman William Dudley noted in a May 20 speech. Mr. Dudley pointed out that Treasury repo rates had rarely traded much below the fixed RRP rate, supporting the view that the Fed could use the facility to control short-term rates."
In addition, the report explains, "The growing importance of the Fed's RRP program as a source of money market supply appears to have contributed to the reduction in non-FRBNY repos backed by Treasury and agency securities held by government MMFs over the period of our study. Treasury repo investments with counterparties other than the FRBNY (i.e. dealers) declined by 14% to $120.5 billion from $139.7 billion between Sept. 30, 2013, and May 31, 2014, while agency repo investments fell by 15% over the same period to $104.2 billion from $123.0 billion. Broker-dealers conducting the largest volumes of repo funding with government MMFs as of May 31 included BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and Barclays."
Fitch writes, "Several institutions that ranked among the largest government MMF counterparties when the daily RRP program was launched last September had less government MMF repo funding as of end-May. These included Citigroup, Bank of America, Credit Agricole, Goldman Sachs and RBC. Regulatory constraints on large banks' capital positions and trading activities, tied to Basel III (embodied in the Supplementary Leverage Ratio rule approved by U.S. banking regulators in April) and the Volcker Rule, are pushing dealers' securities inventories down, and these changes could cut further into demand for repo funding."
Concerning the increase in FRBNY RRP volumes between September 2013 and May 2014, the report says, "Daily utilization reached a peak of $242 billion on March 31. The most recent month-end volume figure, reported on May 30, was $165 billion. Since mid-May, volumes have trended significantly lower, averaging closer to $100 billion per day during the first half of June. On June 16, RRP volume had fallen to $53 billion."
The Fitch report is based on government MMFs universe with assets totaling $881 billion as of end-May 2014. "Among all fund types, these funds allocate the largest share of total assets under management to Treasury and agency repos. Unlike prime funds, government MMFs have more limited investment alternatives. They therefore provide a window into the potential impact of the Fed’s RRP activity on other fund investments, notably dealer repo agreements backed by Treasury and agency securities."
The Financial Times covered the issue in the story, "New York Federal Reserve Takes on Key Role in Repo Market." "The Fed's decision to quadruple its trading with government money market funds in the repurchase or "repo market" is a sign that the central bank is now engaging more directly with the shadow banking system at the expense of large Wall Street banks."
The FT adds, "Historically, the repo market was where big banks pawned out their securities such as Treasury bonds to lenders including money market funds, insurers and mutual funds, in exchange for short-term financing. Now the Fed is stepping in to trade as well as it prepares to end its current near-zero interest rate policy. Rather than lending to the banks, money market funds have sharply boosted their dealings with the US central bank."
The article goes on, "While the growing presence of the Fed in the market has been welcomed by money market funds keen to transact with the central bank, it comes with risks for the central bank and the broader financial system. Bill Dudley, New York Fed president, warned last month that if use of the repo facility were to grow too quickly it might "result in a large amount of disintermediation out of banks through money market funds and other financial intermediaries into the facility. This could encourage further enlargement of the shadow banking system."
A Wall Street Journal article, entitled, "Firms Find Short is Beautiful," reports on the increase in non-financial commercial paper issuance recently. The piece says, "Apple Inc. and at least a dozen other companies have started borrowing short-term cash at the fastest pace in almost two years, telegraphing economic growth. Last month, companies with the highest credit ratings sold an average of $5.88 billion of commercial paper a day, according to the Federal Reserve. For the first time in about two decades, corporate commercial paper accounts for a quarter of the market, with banks and insurers making up the rest." "Companies are issuing more commercial paper to finance expenses such as growing payrolls, capital spending and mergers and acquisitions," John Lonski of Moody's tells the Journal. "Companies are more optimistic, more confident," he says. "There is a correlation between what happens with private-sector payrolls and commercial paper." The article continues, "This year alone, the amount of commercial paper outstanding issued by nonfinancial companies has jumped $82.5 billion to $278.6 billion, according to Fed data, before adjustment for seasonal factors." It continues, "Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen has been publicly frank that the central bank will keep short-term interest rates low even as the economy recovers. That's persuaded short-term borrowers they can continue to roll over their debts." "That has encouraged a fair amount of issuance in the CP market. They feel that much more comfortable operating their programs at capacity," Barclays' Christopher Conetta tells the Journal. The piece adds, "Apple, for example, recently began issuing up to $10 billion in paper for the first time in 17 years. The tech giant has paid 0.05% for three-week paper and 0.15% for debt maturing in about six months, according to Peter Crane, president of Crane Data LLC, a money-fund research firm." It explains, "There's strong demand for debt from companies like Apple as yield-starved, short-term investors hunt for higher rates. Three-month commercial paper yields range from about 0.10% for the highest-ranked borrowers to a little over 0.25% for so-called Tier 2 companies, according to the Fed. By contrast, three-month bank certificates of deposit are returning an average 0.09%, according to Bankrate.com." The WSJ quotes Crane, "Demand is insatiable for nonfinancial, plain-vanilla blue chips."Archives »