SEC to consider money market fund proposal next week


U.S. securities regulators will convene next week to consider a long-awaited proposal that would impose new rules on the $2.6 trillion money market fund industry, according to an announcement posted on the agency's website.

The Securities and Exchange Commission's plan will be unveiled after nearly a year of internal wrangling within the SEC over exactly how to craft the rules, and whether reforms were even needed.

Continue Reading Below

The SEC said it plans to meet on June 5 to consider the proposal in public. If the majority of commissioners agree, then the proposal will be issued for public comment.

A second majority vote by the SEC would be needed to adopt the new rules.

The exact details of the plan were not yet immediately available. But the draft is widely expected to propose regulations that are aimed particularly at prime funds, which are considered to be the most at risk for runs.

Last year, SEC Chair Mary Schapiro had initially pushed her colleagues on the commission to consider a proposal that was broader in scope. That proposal called for capital buffers and redemption holdbacks or, alternatively, a move from a stable $1-per-share net asset value to a floating net asset value.

Schapiro argued that more reforms were needed to prevent a repeat of the financial crisis, in which the Reserve Primary Fund "broke the buck" after spooked investors sought to redeem their money amid fears about the fund's heavy exposure to collapsed investment bank Lehman Brothers.

But the industry balked, saying her proposal could kill the industry. And three of the five SEC commissioners said they could not vote on a plan without first conducting a study to see if more reforms were even needed.

SEC economists later completed the study as requested. In addition, the new Financial Stability Oversight Council also sought to apply pressure on the SEC to take action.

Since then, SEC staff and commissioners have sought to find a middle ground.

The SEC also has a new chair, Mary Jo White, who was sworn in last month.

Staff at the SEC have been exploring targeting just prime funds, an idea that was floated by some key money market fund players like Charles Schwab as a potential compromise between regulators and the industry.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Jan Paschal)