Competition, reach for yield, and money market funds
Do asset managers reach for yield because of competitive pressures in a low-rate environment? I propose a tournament model of money market funds (MMFs) to study this issue. When funds care about relative performance, an increase in the risk premium leads funds with lower default costs to increase risk-taking, while funds with higher default costs decrease risk-taking. Without changes in the premium, lower risk-free rates reduce the risk-taking of all funds. I show that these predictions are consistent with MMF risk-taking during the 2002-08 period and that rank-based performance is indeed a ...
Investors’ appetite for money-like assets: the money market fund industry after the 2014 regulatory reform
This paper uses a quasi-natural experiment to estimate the premium investors are willing to pay to hold money-like assets. The 2014 SEC reform of the money market fund (MMF) industry reduced the money-likeness only of prime MMFs, by increasing the information sensitivity of their shares, and left government MMFs unaffected. As a result, investors fled from prime to government MMFs, with total outflows exceeding $1 trillion. By comparing investors? response to the regulatory change with past episodes of industry dislocation (for example, the 2008 MMF run), we highlight the difference between a ...
Money Market Funds and the New SEC Regulation
On October 14, 2016, amendments to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rule 2a-7, which governs money market mutual funds (MMFs), went into effect. The changes are designed to reduce MMFs? susceptibility to destabilizing runs and contain two principal requirements. First, institutional prime and muni funds?but not retail or government funds?must now compute their net asset values (NAVs) using market-based factors, thereby abandoning the fixed NAV that had been a hallmark of the MMF industry. Second, all prime and muni funds must adopt a system of gates and fees on redemptions, which can ...
Do Low Rates Encourage Yield Seeking by Money Market Funds?
The term ?reach for yield? refers to investors? tendency to buy riskier assets in hopes of securing higher returns. Do low rates on safe assets encourage such yield-seeking behavior, particularly among U.S. prime money market funds (MMFs)? In a forthcoming paper in the Journal of Financial Economics, I develop a model of MMF competition to understand whether competitive pressure leads these funds to reach for yield in a low-rate environment like the current one. I test the model?s predictions on the 2002-08 period and show that, after controlling for changes in risk premia, declines in ...
The Premium for Money-Like Assets
Several academic papers have documented investors? willingness to pay a premium to hold money-like assets and focused on its implications for financial stability. In a New York Fed staff report, we estimate such premium using a quasi-natural experiment, the recent reform of the money market fund (MMF) industry by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The Transmission of Monetary Policy and the Sophistication of Money Market Fund Investors
In December 2015, the Federal Reserve tightened monetary policy for the first time in almost ten years and, over the following three years, it raised interest rates eight more times, increasing the target range for the federal funds rate from 0-25 basis points (bps) to 225-250 bps. To what extent are changes in the fed funds rate transmitted to cash investors, and are there differences in the pass-through between retail and institutional investors? In this post, we describe the impact of recent rate increases on the yield paid by money market funds (MMFs) to their investors and show that the ...
The Money Market Fund Liquidity Facility
Over the first three weeks of March, as uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic increased, prime and municipal (muni) money market funds (MMFs) faced large redemption pressures. Similarly to past episodes of industry dislocation, such as the 2008 financial crisis and the 2011 European bank crisis, outflows from prime and muni MMFs were mirrored by large inflows into government MMFs, which have historically been seen by investors as a safe haven in times of crisis. In this post, we describe a liquidity facility established by the Federal Reserve in response to these outflows.
Outflows from Bank-Loan Funds during COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has put significant pressure on debt markets, especially those populated by riskier borrowers. The leveraged loan market, in particular, came under remarkable stress during the month of March. Bank-loan mutual funds, among the main holders of leveraged loans, suffered massive outflows that were reminiscent of the outflows they experienced during the 2008 crisis. In this post, we show that the flow sensitivity of the loan-fund industry to the COVID-19 crisis (and to negative shocks more generally) seems to be even greater than that of high-yield bond funds, which also ...
The Market Events of Mid-September 2019
This paper studies the mid-September 2019 stress in U.S. money markets: On September 16 and 17, unsecured and secured funding rates spiked up and, on September 17, the effective federal funds rate broke the ceiling of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) target range. We highlight two factors that may have contributed to these events. First, reserves may have become scarce for at least some depository institutions, in the sense that these institutions’ reserve holdings may have been close to, or lower than, their desired level. Moreover, frictions in the interbank market may have ...
Municipal Debt Markets and the COVID-19 Pandemic
In March, with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, the market for municipal securities was severely stressed: mutual fund redemptions sparked unprecedented selling of municipal securities, yields increased sharply, and issuance dried up. In this post, we describe the evolution of municipal bond market conditions since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. We show that conditions in municipal markets have improved significantly, in part a result of the announcement and implementation of several Federal Reserve facilities. Yields have decreased substantially, mutual funds ...