A release headlined, "U.S. Treasurers Will Leave Money Marekt Funds Should the SEC Change Regulation, According to Treasury Strategies Study," was sent out by the Investment Company Institute Thursday morning. It says, "U.S. treasurers report that they will sharply reduce their use of money market funds if the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopts any of the three concepts it is considering to reform money market funds. The SEC has said it is pursuing these changes to change the structure of money market funds. Treasury Strategies, Inc., conducted a survey to study the receptiveness of corporate treasurers, government and institutional investors to each reform concept."

ICI tells us, "The report, Money Market Fund Regulations: The Voice of the Treasurer, concludes that the overwhelming majority of treasurers will either scale back their use of money market funds or discontinue use of them altogether if any of its SEC's three concepts to change money market fund operations takes effect. Those three concepts include floating the net asset value (NAV), imposing a redemption holdback, or imposing capital requirements."

Cathy Gregg, a Partner at Treasury Strategies, says, "The large cross section of treasurers surveyed gives this report the 'voice of the treasurer' -- a voice that spoke out with an overwhelmingly negative response to each reform concept."

The release explains, "ICI commissioned the study to help understand the effects of the SEC concepts on money market fund investors. The Institute will file the study as part of a new comment letter to the SEC. Treasurers are crucial users of money market funds: institutional share classes account for $1.7 trillion, or 65 percent, of the $2.7 trillion in money market funds asset as of the end of February 2012. Key study findings below."

Under the heading, "Every SEC Reform Concept Will Cause a Dramatic Drop-Off in Both Treasurers' Use of Funds and Corporate Assets in Funds," it says, "1. If money market fund NAVs were required to float: 79 percent of respondents would either decrease their use or discontinue altogether. 61 percent of corporate money market fund assets would move to other investments if this concept were adopted. 2. If money market funds were required to institute a 30-day holdback of 3 percent of all redemptions: 90 percent of respondents would either decrease their use or discontinue altogether. 67 percent of corporate money market fund assets would move to other investments if this concept were adopted. 3. If money market funds were required to maintain a loss reserve or capital buffer: 36 percent of respondents would either decrease their use or discontinue altogether when the question did not suggest that investors would suffer any reduced yield."

ICI adds, "In a follow-up question directed to the 64 percent who initially stated they would continue or increase their usage of money funds, 84 percent of the follow-up respondents indicated they would decrease or stop their usage altogether if the capital buffer were to reduce the yield of the fund by 5 basis points. The report makes no estimate on the decline in assets if the SEC imposes a capital buffer on money market funds. However, the number of treasurers using money market funds is expected to decrease dramatically should this concept be adopted."

The study quotes ICI Chief Economist Brian Reid on "Further Regulation Would Push Corporate Money into Many Instruments," "There's a belief in some quarters that treasurers would move their cash and short-term assets to bank checking accounts if money market funds became unusable. This study indicates that such investors would move their cash to a variety of other vehicles and investments, some less regulated and transparent than money market funds."

Finally, under "Corporate Treasurers Value, Understand and Intensively Use Money Market Funds," the release says, "The report concludes that corporate treasurers view money market funds as an essential cash management tool and use them intensively. In addition, treasurers understand the risks, returns and tradeoff between the two. "The message from treasurers is clear. While they value money funds, they will simply abandon the instrument should any of these concepts be adopted. The potential implications of such a widespread run away from money funds are staggering," says Treasury Strategies' Gregg.

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