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The May issue of our flagship Money Fund Intelligence newsletter, which was sent to subscribers Friday morning, features the articles: "Comments to SEC on MMF Reforms Support Liquidity Fee," which discusses the feedback on pending regulatory changes; "Fidelity Letter Blasts SEC on Swing Pricing, Negative Yields," which quotes from the largest fund manager's feedback to the Commission; and, "Earnings Reports Show Fee Waivers Retreating in Q1'22," which reviews the latest reports on the return of fees in MMFs. We also sent out our MFI XLS spreadsheet Friday morning, and we've updated our database with 4/30/22 data. Our May Money Fund Portfolio Holdings are scheduled to ship on Tuesday, May 10, and our May Bond Fund Intelligence is scheduled to go out on Friday, May 13. (Note: Our MFI, MFI XLS and Crane Index products are all available to subscribers via our Content center.)
MFI's "Comments article says, "The big news over the past month was the release of most of the major 'Comments on Money Market Fund Reform' sent to the SEC in response to its Money Fund Reform Proposal. Following the April 11 deadline, dozens of letters were posted, including entries from 17 of the 20 largest managers of MMFs. Click on the name for comments from each of the managers here: Fidelity (see article), BlackRock, Vanguard, J.P. Morgan, Federated Hermes, Morgan Stanley, Dreyfus, Northern, Allspring, SSGA, American Funds, Schwab, First American, Invesco, T. Rowe Price, HSBC and Western. (Goldman Sachs, UBS and DWS didn't submit letters.)
It continues, "ICI's letter, which reflects most fund managers' thoughts, tells us, 'Any new reforms for money market funds should be measured and appropriately calibrated, taking into account data, the costs and benefits these funds provide to investors, the economy, and the short-term funding markets.... We strongly disagree with the proposed swing pricing requirement (and the related proposed disclosure and reporting requirements). Swing pricing fails to reflect how money market funds are managed, would not advance the SEC's goals of enhancing money market fund resiliency and by extension financial stability, would likely strip money market funds of features that are key to investors ... and would impose excessive costs to overcome unnecessary and complex structural challenges. Indeed, swing pricing will fundamentally alter the product and its appeal ..., cause fund sponsors to stop offering the product, and is neither supported by the data nor necessary."
Our "Fidelity Letter" excerpts explain, "Fidelity's comment, written by Chief Legal Officer Cynthia Lo Bessette, tells us, 'Fidelity Investments appreciates the opportunity to provide comments to the Securities and Exchange Commission on its proposed rule and form amendments relating to money market funds.... [S]tresses highlighted certain vulnerabilities in segments of the money market fund industry as well as the need to reconsider certain aspects of Rule 2a-7. Fidelity is encouraged that the SEC has sought to solve for these vulnerabilities in the Proposal by bolstering liquidity requirements and by reevaluating its prior support for temporary suspensions of redemptions (commonly referred to as 'gates')."
It continues, "Fidelity is also encouraged that the SEC did not propose other, more pernicious, reform options that would significantly disrupt the money market fund industry and, in turn, the smooth functioning of the capital markets. It is evident that the SEC, at least in portions of the Proposing Release, accounted for the feedback provided by the industry in response to the report of the President's Working Group on Financial Markets (the 'PWG') on potential reform options for money market funds."
Our "Earnings" piece states, "The latest batch of quarterly earnings calls and reports offers a glimpse into the state of fee waivers, which have begun falling precipitously (and should be almost gone in the current quarter). BlackRock CFO Gary Shedlin comments, 'We incurred approximately $75 million of gross discretionary yield support waivers in the first quarter. However, waivers for our flagship funds were essentially removed following rate hikes ... in March. Recall that approximately 50% of gross fee waivers are generally shared with distributors, so the benefit to base fees is partially offset by higher distribution expense."
Shedlin also tells us, "BlackRock's cash management platform saw net outflows of $27 billion, driven by redemptions from offshore prime and U.S. government MMFs, in line with the broader industry. BlackRock has steadily grown our share of the cash management industry by leveraging our scale and delivering innovative distribution and risk management solutions for clients."
MFI also includes the News brief, "Fed Hikes by 50 Bps; MMF Yields Poised to Surge Towards 1.0%." It quotes the Fed's Statement, "[T]he Committee decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 3/4 to 1 percent and anticipates that ongoing increases in the target range will be appropriate." Our Crane 100 Index yields 0.21%, but should move over 0.50% within days and towards 0.70% in weeks.
Another News brief, "April Portfolio Holdings: Fed Repo Jumps; Treasuries, TDs Plunge," tells us, "Our March 31 data shows that Repo jumped while Treasuries and Other (Time Deposits) plunged last month. Repo remained the largest segment, while Treasuries remained No. 2. (MMF holdings of Fed repo surged to $1.651 trillion.) Agencies were the third largest segment, CP remained fourth, ahead of CDs, Other/Time Deposits and VRDNs."
Finally, a sidebar, "WSJ: Managers Shift to Cash," explains, "The Wall Street Journal writes about 'cash' in 'Wall Street Finds New Value in Cash as Global Fears Weigh on Markets.' The article says, 'Worries about the war in Ukraine, China's Covid-19 outbreak, a U.S. or European recession and surging global inflation are making a long-spurned asset increasingly popular with Wall Street's top money managers these days: cash. As stock and bond prices have retreated from records in the tumult of headlines, more asset managers said they are looking to move funds into low-risk, cash-like assets."
Our May MFI XLS, with April 30 data, shows total assets decreased $74.3 billion to $4.974 trillion, after increasing $24.1 billion in April, decreasing $34.6 billion in February and decreasing $128.1 billion in January. Assets increased $104.6 billion in December, $49.7 billion in November and $20.5 billion October. MMFs also increased $878 million in September and $27.9 billion in August. Our broad Crane Money Fund Average 7-Day Yield was up 5 bps to 0.14%, and our Crane 100 Money Fund Index (the 100 largest taxable funds) was up 6 bps to 0.21%. (Yields should jump today and begin reflecting Wednesday's Fed hike.)
On a Gross Yield Basis (7-Day) (before expenses are taken out), the Crane MFA and the Crane 100 both were both higher at 0.40% and 0.42%, respectively. Charged Expenses averaged 0.26% and 0.20% for the Crane MFA and the Crane 100. (We'll revise expenses Monday once we upload the SEC's Form N-MFP data for 4/30/22.) The average WAM (weighted average maturity) for the Crane MFA was 26 days (down 2 days from previous month) while the Crane 100 WAM fell to 26 days. (See our Crane Index or craneindexes.xlsx history file for more on our averages.)
With the weather getting warmer and the conference business rebounding, Crane Data is ramping up preparations for its big show. Crane's Money Fund Symposium, the largest gathering of money market fund managers and cash investors in the world, will take place June 20-22, 2022 at The Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, in Minneapolis, Minn. (Note that we're starting on the Juneteenth Holiday, but we're unable to move the dates.) The agenda is all set and registrations are still being taken. Money Fund Symposium attracts money fund managers, marketers and servicers, cash investors, money market securities dealers, issuers, and regulators for 2 1/2 days of sessions, socializing and networking. We review the latest agenda, as well as Crane Data's other 2022 conferences, below.
Our MF Symposium Agenda kicks off on Monday, June 20 with a "Keynote: The Brave New World in Liquidity" featuring Joe Sullivan and Yeng Felipe Butler of Allspring Global Investments (formerly Wells Fargo Funds). The rest of the Day 1 Agenda includes: "Strategists Speak '22: Fed, Rates & Reforms," with Vanessa Hubbard McMichael of Wells Fargo Securities and Priya Misra of TD Securities; a "Corporate Investors, Portals, D&I Discussion" with Laurie Brignac of Invesco, Tory Hazard of Institutional Cash Distributors and Tom Hunt of AFP; and, a "Major Money Fund Issues 2022" panel with moderator Peter Crane of Crane Data, Deborah Cunningham of Federated Hermes, John Tobin of Dreyfus and Peter Yi of Northern Trust AM. (The evening's reception is sponsored by Nearwater Capital.)
Day 2 of Money Fund Symposium 2022 begins with "Treasury Issuance & Fed Repo Update," which features Mark Cabana of BofA Securities, Dina Marchioni of the Federal Reserve Bank of NY and Tom Katzenbach of the U.S. Deptartment of the Treasury; followed by a "Senior Portfolio Manager Perspectives" panel with Linda Klingman of Charles Schwab I.M., Nafis Smith of Vanguard and Jeff Plotnik of U.S. Bancorp Asset Mgmt. These sessions are followed by "Government Money Fund & Repo Issues," with Joseph Abate of Barclays, Mike Bird of Allspring Funds and Geoff Gibbs of DWS. The morning concludes with a "Muni & Tax Exempt Money Fund Update," featuring Colleen Meehan of Dreyfus, John Vetter of Fidelity and Sean Saroya and David Elmquist of J.P. Morgan Securities.
The Afternoon of Day 2 (after a Dreyfus-sponsored lunch) features the segments: "Dealer's Choice: Supply, New Securities & CP" with Rob Crowe of Citi Global Markets, John Kodweis of J.P. Morgan and Stewart Cutler of Barclays; "Ratings Focus: Governance, Global & LGIPs" with Robert Callagy of Moody's Investors Service, Greg Fayvilevich of Fitch Ratings, and Michael Masih of S&P Global Ratings; "Ultra-Short Bond & European MMF Update," with Rob Sabatino of UBS Asset Mgmt., Teresa Ho of J.P. Morgan and Dennis Gepp of Federated. The day's wrap-up presentation is "Brokerage Sweeps, AMAs & Deposit Issues" involving Chris Melin of Ameriprise Financial and Michael Berkowitz of Citi Treasury & Trade Solutions. (The Day 2 reception is sponsored by Barclays.)
The third day of the Symposium features the sessions: "The State of the Money Fund Industry" with Peter Crane of Crane Data, Michael Morin of Fidelity Investments and Pia McCusker of SSGA; "Regulations: Money Fund Reforms Round III," with Brenden Carroll of Dechert LLP and Clair Pagnano of K&L Gates LLP; a session, "FICC Repo Update & Repo Trading Platforms with Jeff Sowell of State Street and Sal Giglio of GLMX; and lastly, a session on "Money Fund Statistics, Software & Disclosures.
Visit the MF Symposium website at www.moneyfundsymposium.com) for more details. Registration is $750, and discounted hotel reservations are still available. We hope you'll join us in Minneapolis in June! E-mail us at email@example.com to request the full brochure.)
We are also starting preparations for our next European Money Fund Symposium, which is scheduled for Sept. 27-28, 2022, in Paris, France. European Money Fund Symposium offers "offshore" money fund portfolio managers, and money market investors, issuers, dealers and service providers a concentrated and affordable educational experience, as well as an excellent and informal networking venue. Our mission is to deliver the best possible conference content at an affordable price. Attendee registration for our 2022 European Money Fund Symposium is $1,000 (USD). (We're still looking for speakers and sponsors for this event, so contact us for details.)
Also, mark your calendars for our next Crane's Money Fund University, which will be held in Boston, Mass., December 15-16, 2022. Money Fund University covers the history of money funds, interest rates, regulations (Rule 2a-7), ratings, rankings, money market instruments such as commercial paper, CDs and repo, and portfolio construction and credit analysis. We also include segments on offshore money funds and ultra-short bond funds. Money Fund University's comprehensive program is good for both beginners and experienced professionals looking for a refresher.
Finally, our Bond Fund Symposium 2023 will also be held in Boston, Mass., on March 23-24, 2023. (Click here to see the agenda.) Bond Fund Symposium is the only conference devoted entirely to bond mutual funds, bringing together bond fund managers, marketers, and professionals with fixed-income issuers, investors and service providers. The majority of the content is aimed at the growing ultra-short and conservative ultra-short bond fund marketplace.
Let us know if you'd like more details on any of our events, and we hope to see you in in Minneapolis in June, in Paris in September or in Boston in December (or in March 2023). Thanks to all of our speakers and sponsors and for your patience and support over the past two rough years!
The April issue of our flagship Money Fund Intelligence newsletter, which was sent to subscribers Thursday morning, features the articles: "Yields Move Higher After First Fed Hike; More to Come," which discusses the jump in MMF yields in March; "Bond Fund Symposium Highlights: Carnage in Q1," which quotes from our latest ultra-short bond fund event; and, "Worldwide MF Assets Jump in Q4'21, Led by US, Ireland," which reviews the latest statistics on money market funds domiciled outside the U.S. We also sent out our MFI XLS spreadsheet Thursday morning, and we've updated our database with 3/31/22 data. Our April Money Fund Portfolio Holdings are scheduled to ship on Monday, April 11, and our March Bond Fund Intelligence is scheduled to go out on Thursday, April 14. (Note: Our MFI, MFI XLS and Crane Index products are all available to subscribers via our Content center.)
MFI's "Yields Move article says, "It's been 3 weeks since the Federal Reserve raised its Fed funds rate off of the zero floor, but money funds are already talking about 2% yields. Yields jumped in March, rising from 0.02%, where they'd been for 2 years, to 0.15% on average (as measured by our Crane 100 Index). They now reflect just over half of the 25 bps rate increase, but may not move much more due to fee waivers being reduced. Still, net yields have been surprisingly strong. Given expectations of a 50 bps hike, yields should move higher still next month."
It continues, "The Crane Money Fund Average, which includes all taxable funds tracked by Crane Data (currently 741), shows a 7-day yield of 0.09% (as of 3/31/22), up 7 bps in March. Prime Inst MFs were up 13 bps to 0.17% in the past month, while Government Inst MFs rose 8 bps to 0.10%. Treasury Inst MFs rose 9 bps to 0.10%, while Treasury Retail MFs rose just one bp to 0.02%. Government Retail MFs also now yield 0.02% (up 1 bp), but Prime Retail MFs yield 0.09% (up 8 bps for March). Tax Exempt MF 7-day yields jumped 13 bps to 0.15%."
Our "BFS" update reads, "Crane Data recently hosted its Bond Fund Symposium event in Newport Beach, Calif., which brought together ultra-short bond fund managers, issuers, dealers and investors to discuss a number of short-term fixed-income topics. Thanks again to those who attended and supported BFS! Attendees and Crane Data subscribers may access the Powerpoints, recordings and conference materials via our Bond Fund Symposium 2022 Download Center."
The piece says, "The opening session, 'State of the Bond Fund Marketplace,' featured the Investment Company Institute's Shelly Antoniewicz and Crane Data's Peter Crane. Antoniewicz comments, 'For years and years, we had bond prices rising, rates falling, strong capital gains on bond funds and very, very strong inflows. Then all of a sudden, everything turned around. We had very small capital losses last year on bond funds. Flows sort of held up.... But moving into this year, we had much deeper capital losses on bond funds and flows are turning negative.'"
Our "Worldwide" piece states, "The Investment Company Institute published, 'Worldwide Regulated Open-Fund Assets and Flows, Fourth Quarter 2021,' which shows that money fund assets globally surged by $383.0 billion, or 4.5%, in Q4'21 to $8.833 trillion. The big increase was driven by gains in money funds in the U.S., Ireland, Luxembourg and China. Meanwhile, money funds in Brazil, Korea and Japan decreased. MMF assets worldwide increased by $519.0 billion, or 6.2%, in the 12 months through 12/31/21, and money funds in the U.S. represent 53.8% of worldwide assets. We review the latest Worldwide MMF totals, below."
It continues, "ICI's quarterly says, 'On a US dollar–denominated basis, equity fund assets increased by 5.6% to $33.64 trillion at the end of the fourth quarter of 2021. Bond fund assets increased by 0.6% to $13.72 trillion in the fourth quarter. Balanced fund assets increased by 3.3% to $8.78 trillion in the fourth quarter, while money market fund assets increased by 3.7% globally to $8.83 trillion."
MFI also includes the News brief, "MF Assets Rebound Slightly in March." It says, "Money fund assets rose $24.1 billion in March to $5.033 trillion, after 2 months of steep declines, according to our MFI XLS. YTD, MMFs are down by $138.6 billion, or -2.7%. ICI's latest 'Money Market Fund Assets' shows assets jumping $29.7 billion to $4.590 trillion in the latest week after being flat the previous week and falling sharply the two weeks prior."
Another News brief, "Mass's Galvin Warns on Sweeps." It explains, "The Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, William Galvin, issued a release entitled, 'With Rates Rising, Galvin Investigates Whether Investors Are Being Shortchanged,' which warns brokerages about low rates paid on sweep accounts."
Another News brief, "Fed Z.1 Shows Big Jump in Household & Business MMF Assets in Q4," tells readers, "The Federal Reserve's latest quarterly 'Z.1 Financial Accounts of the United States,' statistical survey shows that Total MMF Assets increased by $186 billion to $5.206 trillion in Q4'21. The Household Sector, by far the largest investor segment with $2.944 trillion, saw the biggest asset increase in Q4. The second largest segment, Nonfinancial Corporate Businesses, also experienced a jump in assets."
Our April MFI XLS, with March 31 data, shows total assets increased $24.1 billion to $5.033 trillion, after decreasing $34.6 billion in February and $128.1 billion in January. Assets increased $104.6 billion in December, $49.7 billion in November and $20.5 billion October. MMFs also increased $878 million in September and $27.9 billion in August. Assets decreased $12.4 billion in July and $73.0 billion in June. Our broad Crane Money Fund Average 7-Day Yield was up 7 bps to 0.09%, and our Crane 100 Money Fund Index (the 100 largest taxable funds) was up 13 bps to 0.15%.
On a Gross Yield Basis (7-Day) (before expenses are taken out), the Crane MFA and the Crane 100 both were both higher at 0.21% and 0.26%, respectively. Charged Expenses averaged 0.12% for the Crane MFA and the Crane 100. (We'll revise expenses Friday once we upload the SEC's Form N-MFP data for 3/31/22.) The average WAM (weighted average maturity) for the Crane MFA was 29 days (up 2 days from previous month) while the Crane 100 WAM remained at 29 days. (See our Crane Index or craneindexes.xlsx history file for more on our averages.)
The March issue of our flagship Money Fund Intelligence newsletter, which was sent to subscribers Monday morning, features the articles: "MMF Assets Dip Again After January Plunge; Slow Liftoff," which discusses the latest on money market fund assets and yields; "BlackRock's Mejzak, D'Anjou Cautious and Conservative," which quotes from a recent webinar; and, "ESMA Proposes Reforms to European Money Fund Regs," which covers the money fund reform proposals in the EU. We also sent out our MFI XLS spreadsheet Monday morning, and we've updated our database with 2/28/22 data. Our March Money Fund Portfolio Holdings are scheduled to ship on Wednesday, March 9, and our March Bond Fund Intelligence is scheduled to go out on Monday, March 14. (Note: Our MFI, MFI XLS and Crane Index products are all available to subscribers via our Content center. Reminder: Today is the last day for discounted hotel rates to our upcoming Bond Fund Symposium conference in Newport Beach, Calif., March 28-29.)
MFI's "MMF Assets article says, "Money market mutual fund assets were lower again in February after a huge outflow in January. Going forward, assets should stay weak in the first half (and drop briefly following any Fed moves as assets shift to higher yielding direct instruments). But assets should rise in the second half of the year as money fund yields move off the zero floor and regain their historical rate advantage over bank deposit products."
It continues, "The Investment Company Institute's latest 'Money Market Fund Assets' report shows assets rebounding sharply in the latest week, after one flat week and 3 weeks of steep declines. Year-to-date, MMFs are down by $99 billion, or -2.1%, with Institutional MMFs down $113 billion, or 3.5% and Retail MMFs up $14 billion, or 1.0%. Over the past 52 weeks, money fund assets have increased by $243 billion, or 5.6%, with Retail MMFs falling by $25 billion (-1.7%) and Inst MMFs rising by $269 billion (9.4%). (Crane Data's MFI XLS shows assets falling $34.2 billion in February after plummeting $128.1 billion in January.)"
Our "BlackRock" profile reads, "ICD recently hosted a webinar entitled, 'Global Markets Update 2022 with BlackRock,' which asked, 'What are the trends that will impact investors in 2022 as the world transitions from a pandemic-focused economy?' The session was moderated by ICD's Justin Brimfield and featured BlackRock Global CIO Rich Mejzak and BlackRock Director and Govt Fund PM Eion D'Anjou. Its description says, 'BlackRock joins ICD to discuss: Expectations around inflation, rising rates and yields in money market funds; Impact of labor market and supply chain concerns on the global economy; and, BlackRock Liquid Federal Trust Fund (BLFT) and other investment opportunities in the year ahead."
Mejzak comments, "We obviously are very thoughtful about flows, or anticipated flows, into and out of our products. We run liquidity products. So that is going to be a huge determinant of how we manage strategy, especially in front of a rising interest rate environment. Up until this point, markets have been pretty aggressive in repricing the Fed. The reality was that a lot of the products that we invest in were not reflecting [this] to the same degree. That's a function of a couple of things.... The supply-demand dynamic in the front end was out of skew, you had money assets that were largely unchanged over the last several quarters, and you had diminishing supply."
Our "ESMA Proposes" piece states, "A press release entitled, '`ESMA Proposes Reforms to Improve Resilience of Money Market Funds' explains, 'The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the EU's securities markets regulator, is issuing an Opinion containing proposed reforms to the regulatory framework for EU Money Market Funds (MMFs) under the Money Market Funds Regulation (MMFR). The proposals will improve the resilience of MMFs by addressing in particular liquidity issues and the threshold effects for constant net asset value (CNAV) MMFs.' See ESMA's 'Final Report - ESMA Opinion on the Review of the Money Market Fund Regulation' and their 'Final Report - Guidelines on Stress Test Scenarios Under the MMF Regulation 2021.'"
It continues, "ESMA explains, '`These proposed reforms result from the lessons learnt from the significant liquidity difficulties faced by MMFs during the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. At the time investor redemption rates rose on the liability side with a corresponding deterioration in the liquidity of money market instruments on the asset side.'"
MFI also includes the News brief, "MF Revenue Rises to $4.7B." which says, "Money fund charged expense ratios (Exp%) rose in January to 0.09% from 0.08% the prior month. (Expenses hit a record low of 0.06% in May 2021.) We estimate that annualized revenue for all money funds is $4.656 billion as of 1/31/22. (Our 2/28/22 numbers will be revised tomorrow with N-MFP data.) Revenues rose from $4.043B in Dec. and from May 2020’s record low of $2.927B.
Another News brief, "Bloomberg Says MMF WAMs Short," says, "Bloomberg posted, 'Battered Money-Market Industry Is Ready for Aggressive Fed,' which tells us, 'While the global financial system waits for the Federal Reserve to begin lifting interest rates, funds across the money-market industry are positioning their cash to take advantage of the higher yields to come. For some funds that means shortening exposure to interest-rate shifts in their portfolios. As of Feb. 14, more than 100 money markets funds had a weighted average maturity, or WAM, of 10 days or less ... according to money-market information provider Crane Data.'"
Our March MFI XLS, with Feb. 28 data, shows total assets decreased $34.2 billion to $5.009 trillion, after decreasing $146.8 billion in January, but increasing $104.6 billion in December, $49.7 billion in November and $20.5 billion October. Assets increased $878 million in September and increased $27.9 billion in August. Assets decreased $12.4 billion in July and $73.0 billion in June. Our broad Crane Money Fund Average 7-Day Yield was flat at 0.02%, and our Crane 100 Money Fund Index (the 100 largest taxable funds) also remained flat at 0.02%.
On a Gross Yield Basis (7-Day) (before expenses are taken out), the Crane MFA and the Crane 100 both were the same as the previous month at 0.11% and 0.11%, respectively. Charged Expenses averaged 0.09% for the Crane MFA and the Crane 100. (We'll revise expenses Tuesday once we upload the SEC's Form N-MFP data for 2/28/22.) The average WAM (weighted average maturity) for the Crane MFA was 27 days (down 3 days from previous month) while the Crane 100 WAM dropped 4 days to 29 days). (See our Crane Index or craneindexes.xlsx history file for more on our averages.)