SEC spokesman responded that "no settlement has been announced, so I don't know how someone could intelligently evaluate its terms."

Typically, the SEC has argued it is too costly to try cases in court, but Coffee does not accept this rationale.

"Why did they sue if it is too costly to go to trial?" he wrote via email. "This was another slap on the wrist in a case where the defendants were prepared to defend themselves. If the defendants know that the SEC will cave on the steps of the courthouse (as they now do know) they will never settle for more than symbolic relief."

Still, if the SEC caused a stock to be downgraded, it must be doing something right. Whether it actually succeeds in reshaping the money market industry and making it safer for investors remains to be seen.

-- Written by Dan Freed in New York.
Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

If you liked this article you might like

With the Fed, It's Different This Time

How to Get Rich Using Warren Buffett's Favorite Stock Market Indicators

How to Live Just Like Billionaire Warren Buffett

Why Hurricanes Won't Force the Fed to Ditch a December Rate Hike

How to Make a Deal Like Billionaire Investor Warren Buffett