funds, while preserving the original purpose of MMFs, which was to provide retail investors with cost-effective, diversified investments in money market instruments. This approach would require the SEC to define who would qualify as retail and institutional investors, and distinguishing those categories will present challenges. In addition, a prohibition on sales of stable NAV MMFs shares to institutional investors may have several of the same unintended consequences as a requirement that allMMFs adopt floating NAVs (see option (a) in this section). (g)Regulating stable NAV MMFs as special purpose banks. Functional similarities between MMF shares and bank deposits, as well as the risk of runs on both, provide a rationale for requiring stable NAV MMFs to reorganize as special purpose banks (SPBs) subject to banking oversight and regulation. As banks, MMFs could have access to government insurance and lender-of-last-resort facilities. An advantage of such a reorganization could be that it uses a well-understood regulatory framework for the mitigation of systemic risk. But while the conceptual basis for this option is fairly straightforward, its implementation might take a broad range of forms and would probably require legislation together with interagency coordination. An important hurdle for successful conversion of MMFs to SPBs may be the very large amounts of equity necessary to capitalize the new banks. In addition, to the extent that deposits in the new SPBs would be insured, the potential government liabilities through deposit insurance would be increased substantially, and the development of an appropriate pricing scheme for such insurance would present some of the same challenges as the pricing of deposit insurance. More broadly, the possible interactions between the new SPBs and the existing banking system would have to be studied carefully by policymakers.(h)Enhanced constraints on unregulated MMF substitutes. New measures intended to mitigate MMF risks may also reduce the appeal of MMFs to many investors. While it is likely that some (particularly retail) investors may move their assets from MMFs to bank deposits if regulation of MMFs becomes too burdensome and meaningfully reduces MMF returns, others may be motivated to shift assets to unregulated funds with stable NAVs, such as offshore MMFs, enhanced cash funds, and other stable value vehicles. Such funds, which typically hold assets similar to those held by MMFs, are vulnerable to runs but are less transparent and less constrained than MMFs, so their growth would likely pose systemic risks. Hence, effective mitigation of this risk may require policy reforms targeting regulatory arbitrage. Reforms of this type generally would require legislation and action by the SEC and other agencies.
7 1. Introduction and Background a. Money Market Funds MMFs are mutual funds that offer individuals, businesses, and governments a convenient and cost-effective means of pooled investing in money market instruments.