A friend of FT Alphaville who works in the real world, far from finance, asked us what we think about putting money with peer-to-peer lenders.
We advised him to buy gold-bitcoins instead, but it made us want to take a look. It turns out we’re not alone. The chancellor is expected on Thursday to launch a consultation on blessing peer-to-peer lending with inclusion in the UK’s popular ISA scheme for tax free savings accounts.*
But where we think we might be alone, for now, is worrying about something that has afflicted lenders from time immemorial: run risk. Read more
We’ve been paying attention to the various ways in which oncoming regulations are likely to crunch parts of the shadow banking system.
After the Fed released its notice of proposed rulemaking for its implementation of the Liquidity Coverage Ratio last week, the Citi rates team noted that the matched-book repo market would be unaffected by the LCR but nonetheless should expect future regulations of a different kind. Read more
A letter lands from the 12 Presidents of the Federal Reserve, led by consistent money market fund critic Eric Rosengren. Reform has been a marathon and they are going to run along behind the SEC waving a big stick until it is finished: Read more
GC repo rates and term (3-month and 6-month) GC futures have fallen in recent weeks. The only mystery is why it took so long.
A decline was largely expected as a result of TAG expiring and the end of Operation Twist. The former had given large risk-averse investors a safe place to stash their money, and the latter had allowed flooded dealer inventories with safe collateral against which slightly less risk-averse investors and MMFs could reverse repo and get a tad extra yield. Read more
Well, it’s a revolution! Apparently.
This is Goldman’s first report on its money market funds to disclose daily net asset values (h/t Tracy): Read more
In April we began discussing the possible end of the Transaction Account Guarantee at the end of this year, describing it as a kind of collateral-substitute and as a pseudo-bailout for certain investors (the most extremely risk-averse) in money market funds.
Well, the expiration of TAG increasingly appears inevitable, and today the Wall Street Journal reports: Read more
A proposal by the Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Mary Schapiro to more closely regulate money market funds was abandoned back in September when three of the five commissioners opposed it. A week or so later it became clear that the Financial Stability Oversight Committee would keep advancing the cause of the MMF reforms. Read more
It might look a little underwhelming but that’s US prime money market funds increasing their exposure to eurozone banks for the third month in a row. At the end of September they were 16 per cent more expoosed on a dollar basis compared to the month before, according to Fitch. Read more
UPDATE: A Treasury official got in touch with us after reading this post to explain a little more clearly what happens next.
First a bit of background. Dodd-Frank section 120 authorises the FSOC “to provide for more stringent regulation of a financial activity by issuing recommendations to the primary financial regulatory agencies to apply new or heightened standards and safeguards… if the Council determines that the conduct, scope, nature, size, scale, concentration, or interconnectedness of such activity or practice could create or increase the risk of significant liquidity, credit, or other problems spreading among bank holding companies and nonbank financial companies, financial markets of the United States.” Read more
US money market funds are still cautious about building up exposure to European banks.
However, according to Fitch’s latest Macro Credit Research report on Friday, they seem much more confident about building up exposure on secured terms. As a result, repos as a percentage of exposure to European banks is on the rise to new post-crisis levels: Read more
The rivals rely on each other in potentially unstable ways. The US Treasury estimates that 105 money market funds with total assets of $1tn could fail in the same way as Reserve Primary if any of their top 20 counterparties defaulted. The latter include many European banks – 30 per cent of the assets of money market prime funds are European bank debt.
That’s from John Gapper’s column on the failure of the Securities and Exchange Commission to tame the $2.6tn US money market fund industry. Cardiff also has a few words to say on the topic. Read more
Well, it looks like all the lobbying paid off for the money market fund industry and its backers.
Mary Schapiro, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, has announced that her proposal to reform the industry would not go to a vote because three of the SEC’s five commissioners had already announced their opposition to it. (Two were already expected. Until today, the position of Luis Aguilar remained unknown.) Read more
A big thanks to economist David Beckworth, one of FT Alphaville’s favourite bloggers, for his characteristically smart and polite post in response to our thoughts on why lowering or eliminating IOER is a problematic idea.
(In our post we had asked what the market monetarists thought of the issues we raised.) Read more
Earlier this year, while LTROs-have-saved-Europe sentiment was still a (fleeting) thing, US money market funds began gently easing back into eurozone banks.
But as we noted then, it was fickle money, with exposures of much shorter duration than last year. Read more
I guess I would add to that, though, that, you know, each of these nonstandard programs does have various costs and risks associated with it with respect to market functioning, with respect to financial stability, with respect to the exit process, and so I don’t think they should be launched lightly. I think there should be some conviction that they’re needed, but if we do come to that conviction, then we’ll take those additional steps.
– Ben Bernanke on further unconventional Fed measures, at June’s FOMC presser. (Page 8 here, in response to Binyamin Appelbaum’s question.) Read more
Fee waivers and duration extension, according to Fitch’s Fund & Asset Manager rating group.
They’re talking, of course, about how European money market funds will react to the ECB’s decision to cut its deposit rate to zero, a fact which should soon push the Euro overnight index average (Eonia) to historical lows of between -15 and +15 bps, putting MMF yields at risk of negativity. Read more
Well, here’s one answer to a question we’d been wondering about since last week, when the ECB lowered the deposit rate from 0.25 per cent to zero.
We were curious to know whether some EUR-denominated investors would switch into USD short-term markets in a search for yield. Read more
Maybe not truly natural, as this is a matter of currency intervention, but close.
After the ECB lowered its interest and deposit rates on Thursday, the Danish central bank, Nationalbanken, followed a few hours later. Read more
The cut in the deposit facility rate to zero will almost certainly move cash bids in short-dated instruments into negative territory, and so we have taken the step to restrict subscriptions and switches in to the Funds in order to protect existing shareholders from yield dilution…
That’s JPMorgan, explaining why it’s closed five European liquidity-themed funds to new investors, following Thursday’s rate cuts by the ECB. “We wish to restrict growth in assets at this time,” etc. Read more
Amnesia, ignorance and disingenuousness are competing fiercely as a possible explanation for this comment:
“In my view, you’re portraying an industry that’s extremely vulnerable, that has all these risks of runs and I really find that extraordinary in light of the actual history,” Senator Patrick Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, told Schapiro. “We’ve had another round of real stress: an ongoing recession, European credit crisis, downgrade of the U.S. government, considerable redemption pressure and not a single problem in this industry.” Read more
It was inevitable that the abysmal payrolls report last Friday would make louder the calls for another round of quantitative easing from the FOMC, which meets later this month.
QE can take various shapes, but we wanted to mention something about the specific idea of the Fed buying up more US Treasuries: as a few analysts have pointed out recently, there’s a pretty good chance that rates will stay low no matter what the Fed does. Read more
We’ve written extensively about the problems facing US money market funds, the motives behind the Fed’s adding them to its list of reverse repo counterparties, and how sterilisation of further QE was an idea likely floated with MMFs in mind.
We won’t do a full recap here, but the idea is that with rates low and their margins incredibly thin, money market funds have been competing for a limited amount of collateral against which to lend in repo markets. Read more
Ben Bernanke gave a speech on Monday night about fostering financial stability, which featured a lot about the risks of shadow banking.
From the prepared speech notes, Bernanke lists the reforms around shadow banking that are under way — but “still at very early stages”. One of those is of course money market funds, to which he gives strong support: Read more
Deposit insurance on non-interest bearing accounts — it was in October 2008 that the FDIC started it, through the Transaction Account Guarantee, or TAG.
Until we looked a bit more closely, we hadn’t guessed that the issue could offer much insight into the complexities of shadow banking regulation. Read more
First off, is sterilisation in the US even new?
As we’ve discussed before, the Fed’s interest on excess reserves (IOER) policy can and has been construed by many as a type of sterilisation policy in its own right. Read more
US money market funds have return to lending to French banks with force, owning $8.6bn of short-term loans issued by the institutions in January, up from $3.2bn in December, Bloomberg Risk reports. The figure is still far below the $78bn of French bank exposure held by money market funds at the end of 2010, but marks the first increase in lending in six months. Societe Generale’s funding from the sector rose to $3.4bn, a tenfold increase. Money market funds pulled dollar funding from French lenders as the eurozone debt crisis worsened in autumn, but have return on hopes that the ECB’s three-year euro liquidity will aid the banking system.
In the first installment of US money market funds versus the eurozone, the funds were seen fleeing the continent as quickly as possible, leaving all sorts of funding chaos in their wake.
In part two, the flight of the US money market funds seems to have intensified, but the outflows have been more clearly redirected… namely into Australian, Canadian and Japanese banks instead. Read more
US money market funds have begun moving back into European bank paper, a sign that central bank efforts to backstop key institutions are improving risk appetite, says the FT. This past week, money market funds bought French bank paper with maturities as long as one month, as well as small amounts of Spanish bank paper, the newspaper says. The funds also bought longer-dated UK, Dutch and Scandinavian bank paper, up to six-month maturities. Notes issued by US banks with foreign parents rose $6bn to $152bn and foreign domiciled bank notes outstanding rose nearly $3bn to $133bn, according to figures from the Federal Reserve. Last year, money market funds were sellers of many European banks’ short-term commercial paper as worries grew about the repercussions of a possible European sovereign default. That was a critical factor in market anxiety, as the highly rated funds’ $2.7tn in liquid assets are a key source of dollar funding.
That chart is from the latest Fitch Ratings report of the biggest US prime money market funds. Read more