The ICI released its 2021 Investment Company Fact Book this morning, which contains a wealth of statistics on money market (and other) mutual funds, and which reviews major fund trends of 2020. The introductory letter, from ICI Chief Economist Sean Collins, states, "2020. What a year. I'm writing this letter sitting in my basement, which has served as my office this past year. It's March 15, 2021, almost one year to the day from March 13, 2020, when vast swathes of the US economy began shutting down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. How things have changed from that fateful Friday the 13th! ... Some things, of course, remain much the same. Throughout this challenging period, ICI's Research Department -- as with all ICI departments -- maintained its intense focus on supporting registered investment companies and the more than 105 million shareholders they serve. As the crisis unfolded, market participants rightly became deeply concerned -- and highly uncertain -- about the effects of the economywide shutdown on businesses, households, and governments. In this environment, all types of investors around the world scrambled to raise cash, a development that quickly morphed into a liquidity crisis. During this time, ICI Research worked tirelessly to provide critical perspective and data to policymakers to help them navigate and respond to the rapidly moving events." He explains, "As the financial markets began to settle, we turned to providing more in-depth analyses of funds' experiences during March 2020, in no small part to help ensure that emerging narratives were based on facts, not supposition. For example, in late May, I was invited to present a detailed analysis to the Securities and Exchange Commission's Asset Management Advisory Committee on funds' experiences in March. In addition, under the guidance and assistance of senior leaders from throughout the fund industry, ICI published the Report of the COVID-19 Market Impact Working Group -- a series of papers discussing developments in the spring of 2020 in the financial markets broadly, as well as in ETFs, money market funds, and UCITS. We also produced a series of blog posts discussing the experiences of bond mutual funds in March 2020. The preface in this year's Fact Book summarizes some of that work and provides a link to the full suite of COVID-19 papers and blog posts. The key theme of this work is that the March 2020 turmoil was driven not by the actions of individual market participants or market sectors, but by uncertainty about how the virus and the shuttering of world economies would play out. In light of the COVID-19 turmoil, regulators are now pondering reforms for many sectors of the financial markets, including ours. As they do so, they must keep the true drivers of the March 2020 turmoil at the forefront of their minds, and must remain cognizant of the benefits regulated funds provide to the world's economies. Funds are an important source of financing -- to businesses, consumers, and governments at all levels -- and a chief way that tens of millions of investors save for long-term goals." Finally, Collins adds, "All of this extraordinary work over the past year is built on the solid foundation ICI Research has built over decades, which is also reflected in the data and analysis we offer throughout the entire Fact Book. For example, Fact Book chapters 1 to 6 provide detail on the remarkable range of products our industry has created to help investors save for their goals, on how our industry is evolving (both in the United States and in other jurisdictions) to meet investors' changing demands, and on the substantial declines in fund fees Main Street investors incur to gain exposure to stocks and bonds through pooled, professionally managed funds. The many figures, tables, and analyses you will find here reflect the efforts of Shelly Antoniewicz and her staff." Watch for more excerpts from the new ICI Fact Book in coming days, and in the May issue of Money Fund Intelligence (which ships tomorrow). ICI also kicks off its 2021 Virtual General Membership Meeting at 1pm EDT today, so watch for coverage of this in coming days too.

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