Short-Maturity ETFs Eye Money Fund Reform Gridlock

| About: PIMCO Enhanced (MINT)
This article is now exclusive for PRO subscribers.

Regulators and asset managers are squaring off over new rules that could have a major impact on the nearly $3 trillion money market fund business.

The outcome of this high-stakes power struggle may also affect short-duration ETFs such as PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Strategy Fund (NYSEARCA:MINT) that some investors are using as an alternative to money market funds.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed new regulations to obviate another Lehman-like induced distress on the money fund market; however, some commissioners are not on board with the new direction.

Democratic SEC Commissioner Luis Aguilar and Republican SEC commissioners Troy Paredes and Dan Gallagher recently issued a statement, saying that an international report on money fund reform "cannot be considered to represent" the majority of the SEC, Thomson Reuters reports.

"We feel that it is important to state for the record that the consultation report does not reflect the views and input of a majority of the commission," according to the statement. "In fact, a majority of the commission expressed its unequivocal view that the commission's representatives should oppose publication of the consultation report and that the commission's representatives should urge Iosco to withdraw it for further consideration and revision."

SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro has been spearheading reforms to prevent another run on money market funds, similar to what happened during the 2008 financial crisis.

"I have very legitimate concerns about the risks that are posed by the stable NAV and the potential to cause runs," Schapiro said at an annual Investment Company Institute conference Friday. "We all know what happened in 2008."

Schapiro has been urging the commission to consider both capital buffer requirement and a 30-day hold back on redemption requests from investors, or to impose a floating net asset value, essentially breaking the buck on the $1-per-share value that current funds follow. Her comments suggest that she is leaning toward floating the NAV.

"I want money market funds to be reflective of the fact that they are investment products, and the value does fluctuate," Schapiro added.

Schapiro would require three of five votes to go ahead with the proposal.

The mutual fund industry has been arguing that the imposed regulation would hurt investors and block financing for businesses, states and local governments, even hamper further economic growth, reports Jason Kephart for InvestmentNews.

Max Chen contributed to this article.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.