Many U.S. regulators view money market funds as a key source of systemic risk because of what happened to the Primary Reserve Fund during the 2008 financial crisis. When that Fund’s holdings in the commercial paper of Lehman Brothers went south, the Fund “broke the buck” — leading other investors to redeem the shares of similar money market funds, even if they did not hold any Lehman paper.
The road to money market fund reform has been politically arduous. In August, Mary Schapiro, then the Chairwoman of the SEC, was forced to call off a vote on money market fund reform. Three of the five commissioners had indicated that they were not prepared to support the rules under consideration. Fortunately, two of the three dissenters have recently expressed receptivity to some reforms in certain circumstances.
When it comes to the financial crisis of 2008, there’s certainly no shortage of blame. But who should be legally liable for any wrongdoing that occurred? In my view, enforcement actions should be brought for two primary purposes: to increase accountability and deter future wrongdoing. In most cases, that means focusing attention on the individuals who committed the alleged bad acts, not the corporate entities. Unfortunately, the SEC and other agencies have often brought actions against the corporate entities instead. Here are two particularly egregious examples.
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. announced last week that it had agreed to settle a multiyear probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The probe alleges that Bear Stearns (which J.P. Morgan acquired in early 2008) failed to disclose key information about the mortgage-backed securities it sold—such as the low quality of the mortgages underlying them. Under the proposed settlement, J.P. Morgan will pay an undisclosed amount, but no individuals will be charged.
Co-authored with Theresa Hamacher.
Facebook and Twitter may have become mainstream for many American families and businesses, but within the fund industry, the use of social media is much less common. Fund management companies have been cautious about using social platforms because of stringent regulations governing posts on their sites. Interpretations of these regulations should be modified to better accommodate the features of social media and make it easier for investors and those working in the fund industry to keep up with the latest information.
With John Coates.
The House voted 390 to 23 last week for a bill to provide regulatory relief for small companies trying to raise capital. The bill is moving quickly through the Senate; no one likes unnecessary regulations that burden economic growth.
But this bill does more than trim regulatory fat; parts of it cut into muscle. Small businesses will have a harder time raising capital if investors do not receive sufficient disclosures or other legal protections.
Read the rest at the Washington Post.