This is my second attempt at the second in my series of posts analyzing the SEC’s recent proposal to require money market funds with floating share prices (“institutional money funds”) to implement “swing pricing” for pricing periods in which the fund has net redemptions. I removed some earlier posts because I am less sure how to interpret the proposed definition of a “swing factor.” This post explores the disparity between the proposed definition of a “swing factor” and the discussion of swing pricing in the proposing release.
Continue Reading Taking Another Swing at Swing Pricing

On December 15, 2021, the SEC proposed amendments to the regulation (Rule 2a-7) governing money market funds.

The proposed amendments are intended to reduce run risk, mitigate the liquidity externalities transacting investors impose on non-transacting investors, and enhance the resilience of money market funds.”

The proposing release has not yet been published in the Federal Register, so we do not know when the sixty-day comment period will begin.

The most significant proposals would (1) eliminate the power of a money market fund’s board of directors or trustees (its “Board”) to temporarily suspend, or impose liquidity fees on, redemptions and (2) require money market funds with fluctuating net asset values per share (known as “institutional money funds”) to implement “swing pricing.” This post explains this swing pricing proposal.
Continue Reading Swing Pricing for Institutional Money Market Funds—What Is Proposed

Note: The following post originally appeared in Perkins Coie’s Public Chatter blog.

In the making for a long time, the SEC proposed rules yesterday that would change how mutual funds disclose their proxy voting – and would require institutional investors to disclose their say-on-pay voting records for the first time. Here’s the 174-page proposing release.
Continue Reading SEC Proposes Changes to How Funds Disclose How They Voted

This is the seventh installment of Andrew Cross and my review of the compliance requirements of new Rule 18f‑4 and the first to deal with “unfunded commitment agreements.” Before plunging into the substance of paragraph (e) of Rule 18f-4, which regulates unfunded commitment agreements, I want to revisit a problem I have with the definition. My problem stems from trying to answer a basic question: Is a binding commitment to make a loan upon demand by the borrower, with stated principal and term and a fixed interest rate, an “unfunded commitment agreement?”
Continue Reading Rule 18f-4 Still Has Commitment Issues

This post ends our series critiquing the proposed definition of “unfunded commitment agreement” in re-proposed Rule 18f-4. This definition is important because it would create an exception from the Value at Risk (“VaR”) limitations the proposed rule would impose on “derivatives transactions” by investment companies. This post will recap the problems with the proposed definition and the approach we would recommend for addressing these shortcomings.
Continue Reading Re-Proposed Rule 18f-4: Commitment Agreements—Putting it all Together

In a previous post, we compared loan commitments, which re-proposed Rule 18f-4 would treat as “unfunded commitment agreements,” and “to be announced” (“TBA”) mortgage-backed securities (“MBS”) trades and put options, which Rule 18f-4 would treat as “derivative transactions,” to identify features that may be unique to loan commitments. Our last post showed how one feature, greater uncertainty as to the term of eventual loans as compared to the average life of the mortgages that underlie TBAs (in each case resulting from prepayments of the loans and mortgages, respectively), could prevent loan commitments from fluctuating in value. If the value of the commitment does not fluctuate substantially, the commitment cannot “present an opportunity for the fund to realize gains or losses between the date of the fund’s commitment and its subsequent investment” and thus will not have a leveraging effect on the fund.

Gauging the probability of drawings and prepayments is not a practical approach to regulating commitments by investment companies, so we will continue analyzing the potential leveraging effects of the unique features of loan commitments we previously identified. Two features, the right to terminate the commitment and the expectation that the commitment would be drawn, were uniquely present in loan commitments. Two other features, the availability of offsetting transactions and posting margin to secure the commitment, were uniquely absent.
Continue Reading Re-Proposed Rule 18f-4: Features of Loan Commitments that May Prevent “Leveraging Effects”

Our last post used a comparison of loan commitments, which re-proposed Rule 18f-4 would treat as “unfunded commitment agreement,” and “to be announced” (“TBA”) mortgage-backed securities trades and put options for bonds, which Rule 18f-4 would treat as “derivative transactions,” to isolate features that could be used to delineate these commitments based on their leveraging effects. Our next post will continue this analysis by considering whether each unique feature of a loan commitment mitigates its potential “leveraging effects.” Before proceeding, however, we will consider one feature shared by loan commitments and TBAs to illustrate why even seemingly common features may have different leveraging effects.
Continue Reading Re-Proposed Rule 18f-4: What Features of Loan Commitments May Preclude “Leveraging Effects”—Prepayments

Our last post began to consider why some firm and standby commitments entered into by investment companies (including business development companies) may have “leveraging effects” while others do not. The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) needs to identify the essential differences between these commitments to delineate when re-proposed Rule 18f-4 should treat a commitment as an “unfunded commitment agreement” rather than a “derivatives transaction.” Our last post showed that loan commitments share, at a minimum, the same interest rate risks as other types of commitments, so any absence of leveraging effects must depend on other factors.
Continue Reading Re-Proposed Rule 18f-4: Using Morphology to Delineate Commitment Agreements

This post continues our consideration of a carveout from the proposed Value at Risk (“VaR”) limitations of Rule 18f-4 for unfunded commitment agreements “because they do not present an opportunity for the fund to realize gains or losses between the date of the fund’s commitment and its subsequent investment ….” Our last post dealt with commitments to invest in a company’s equity. But the definition of “unfunded commitment agreement” would also include a contract “to make a loan to a company.” Commenters on the original Rule 18f-4 proposal contrasted these loan commitments with:

firm and standby commitment agreements, under which a fund commits itself to purchase a security with a stated price and fixed yield without condition or upon the counterparty’s demand.”

We do not believe the contrast is as stark as these commenters suggest. If our view is correct, we will need to search for additional factors to distinguish these loan commitments from commitment agreements that should be treated as derivatives transactions.
Continue Reading Re-Proposed Rule 18f-4: Unfunded Loan Commitments

Having completed our detour into regulations and interpretations other than re-proposed Rule 18f-4, this post returns to considering possible justifications for carving out “unfunded commitment agreements” from the proposed Value at Risk limitations of Rule 18f-4. We have previously explained why the first two justification identified in the proposing release are ill-founded, which leaves only the following argument for a carveout:

Commenters also asserted that unfunded commitment agreements do not give rise to the risks that Release 10666 identified and do not have a leveraging effect on the fund’s portfolio because they do not present an opportunity for the fund to realize gains or losses between the date of the fund’s commitment and its subsequent investment when the other party to the agreement calls the commitment.”

We believe this is true of some, but not all, commitments. To explain why, we begin with the most important element of the proposed definition of “unfunded commitment agreement:” that it is a commitment to the company receiving the loan or other investment.
Continue Reading Re-Proposed Rule 18f-4: Why Some Commitment Agreements may not have “Leveraging Effects”