Divisions at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission could prompt a panel of regulators from other agencies to intervene in a debate over strengthening rules governing the $2.6 trillion money-market fund industry, three people familiar with the situation said.
If the SEC is unable to reach agreement, the Financial Stability Oversight Council, established by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act to monitor large risks to the economy, may decide to officially designate money funds as “systemically important.” That would increase pressure on the SEC to overcome industry opposition and internal disagreements to propose new rules.
“I expect FSOC to declare money market funds” systemically significant “if it becomes clear the SEC cannot act,” said Karen Shaw Petrou, co-founder and managing partner at Washington-based Federal Financial Analytics Inc., a regulatory consulting firm. “And I expect them to do so by the summer.”
SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro has warned since November that a run on money-market firms could damage the economy, a view shared by the Obama administration and other regulators. She hasn’t been able to convince a majority of her colleagues on the five-member commission to join her on tighter rules that could include capital requirements or a change to the industry’s traditional $1 share price.
SEC spokeswoman Judith Burns declined to comment on the prospect of an FSOC intervention. Treasury spokesman Anthony Coley wouldn’t comment on behalf of the FSOC.