With our recent Money Fund University "basic training" event now history, Crane Data is getting ready for its fourth annual ultra-short bond fund event, Bond Fund Symposium. BFS will take place in less than two months, March 23-24, at the Hyatt Regency Boston. Crane's Bond Fund Symposium offers a concentrated and affordable educational experience, as well as an excellent networking venue, for bond fund and fixed-income professionals. Registrations are being accepted ($750) and sponsorship opportunities are still available. (Tickets are also available to select Crane Data clients and PMs. Let us know if you'd like more information.) We review the latest agenda and details below.

Bond Fund Symposium's Day One (3/23) morning agenda includes: Bond Market Strategists: Rates, Risks, Spreads with Ira Jersey of Bloomberg Intelligence, Alex Roever of J.P. Morgan Securities and Michael Cloherty of UBS; Short & Shorter: Ultra-Shorts vs. SMAs & ESG with Dave Martucci of J.P Morgan A.M. and Jerome Schneider of PIMCO; and ETF & Near-Cash ETF Trends, with Will Goldthwait of State Street Global Advisors; Brian McMullen of Invesco and James McNerny of JPMAM.

The Day One afternoon agenda includes: Senior Portfolio Manager Perspectives with Frank Gianatasio, Jr. of BlackRock, Joanne Driscoll of Putnam Investments and Dave Rothweiler of UBS Asset Management; Major Issues in Fixed-Income Investing featuring Logan Miller of Wells Fargo Securities, Matthew Brill of Invesco and Morten Olsen of Northern Trust; and, Index Fund & ESG Issues in the Bond Space with William Goldthwait of State Street Global Advisors and Henry Shilling of Sustainable Research Analysis. Finally, the segment, US Bond Fund Ratings & LGIP Market Update with Peter Gargiulo of Fitch Ratings and Guyna Johnson of S&P Global Ratings, will close Monday's session, followed by a reception sponsored by Wells Fargo.

Day Two's agenda includes: State of the Bond Fund Marketplace with Peter Crane of Crane Data and Shelly Antoniewicz of the Investment Company Institute; Regulatory Update: Latest Bond Fund Issues with Aaron Withrow of Dechert LLP and Jamie Gershkow of Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young; Government Bond Market & Fund Discussion with Sue Hill of Federated Investors and Ira Jersey of Bloomberg Intelligence; Municipal Bond Market Overview with Kristian Lind of Neuberger Berman and J.R. Rieger of The Rieger Report; and a Money Fund Update & Conservative USBFs with Crane and Kerry Pope of Fidelity Investments.

Portfolio managers, analysts, investors, issuers, service providers, and anyone interested in expanding their knowledge of bond funds and fixed-income investing will benefit from our comprehensive program. A block of rooms has been reserved at the Hyatt Regency. We'd like to thank our sponsors and exhibitors -- Wells Fargo Securities, Fidelity Investments, Fitch Ratings, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, Northern Trust, S&P Global Ratings, Invesco, Dechert, INTL FCStone, Bloomberg Intelligence, Toyota Financial Services and DTCC -- for their support. E-mail us for more details.

Also, mark your calendars for our big show, Crane's Money Fund Symposium, which will be held June 24-26, 2020, at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis. The preliminary agenda is now available and registrations are now being taken at: www.moneyfundsymposium.com. We've also set the dates and location for our next European Money Fund Symposium. It is scheduled for Sept. 17-18, 2020, in Paris, France. Let us know if you'd like more details on any of our events, and we hope to see you in Boston, Minneapolis or Paris in 2020!

Finally, thanks to those who attending Crane Data's 10th annual Money Fund University, which took place Jan. 23-24, 2020, in Providence, R.I. Mark your calendars for next year's event, which will be Jan. 21-22, 2021, in Pittsburgh, Pa. Watch for details in coming months, and let us know if you're interested in sponsoring or speaking, and contact us if you have any feedback or questions. Attendees to MFU and Crane Data subscribers may access the latest recordings, Powerpoints and binder materials here: https://cranedata.com/publications/mfuniversity-2020.

In other news, the February 2020 issue of The Independent Adviser for Vanguard Investors discusses Tax Exempt Money Funds in the brief, "Investors Year-End Fireworks Come and Go." They tell us, "It's that time of year again when Dan [Wiener] and I caution against chasing the year-end yields you may have seen on tax-exempt money market funds -- they never last, and this year was no different. Year-in and year-out, we warn you about the machinations in the municipal paper markets that cause yields on tax-exempt money funds to skyrocket at year-end and then fall back to earth just as quickly."

The piece continues, "Okay, we didn't have to offer that warning for several years following the financial crisis when short-term yields were pinned at a single basis point, 0.01%. But with yields at more normal levels, the pattern of a short-lived, year-end spike in yields is back. So, don't count on the yield you see listed on Vanguard's or other companies' websites. And please don't pay any attention to lists of 'best tax-exempt money market yields' because the data being used are already irrelevant."

It explains, "Just look at the chart ... showing Vanguard's municipal money market funds alongside Prime Money Market over the last two months. While Prime Money Market traded in a narrow range of 1.65% to 1.74%, the municipal funds moved all over the place. Municipal Money Market entered December yielding 1.05%. Its yield climbed to 1.41% by the first trading day of the New Year before quickly falling to 0.81%."

The Independent Adviser elaborates, "The cause of this year-end yield spike is varied. In part, the situation arises as holiday shoppers sell money market holdings to pay the bills, causing a supply of bonds that overwhelms the market. Prices fall and yields rise. Another factor is institutional trading to 'window dress' year-end statements with higher-yielding and 'better looking' taxable securities even though the after-tax yields on municipals may be higher. Municipal bond dealers then must boost yields on their securities to attract buyers. All this meshugas begins to fade within the first few days of the New Year, and yields quickly revert to what should be normal."

Finally, they write, "Bottom line: You can earn some extra yield on your municipal money market funds for a few days around year-end if you want to, but that opportunity has already come and gone. Plus, trading in and our may trigger a warning from Vanguard. I'd rather enjoy the holidays and let the municipal bond dealers battle it out amongst themselves." (See our January 9 News, "MMF Market Share: BlackRock, Goldman, Federated Jump; T-E Yields Up. Tax-exempt yields jumped up to 1.11% in December, up 39 bps, but they are currently yielding just 0.59% as of Feb. 3, according to our MFI Daily.

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