Money Fund Fight Could Last Forever: Street Whispers

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Fresh from his victory over a proposed Securities and Exchange Commission rule that would have placed tighter restrictions on money market funds, Federated Investors ( FII) CEO Christopher Donahue isn't doing an end zone dance--in fact, he doesn't sound like he'll ever do one.

Money market reform has been an important goal for regulators ever since the 2008 financial crisis exposed their vulnerability to losses. Over a two day period after the investors in the Reserve Primary Fund saw the value of their holdings decline in value, prime money market funds lost $200 million in assets as a massive run ensued. The Treasury was forced to step in and guarantee money market funds. Since then the Federal Reserve and the Treasury have been pushing for ways to reduce the possibility of future bailouts.

Though Federated and other big mutual fund companies were able to convince three SEC commissioners to block Chairman Mary Schapiro, Donahue fully expects the Federal Reserve to keep the fight alive.

"Use of the word resolution, I can't get to, because I don't think at this point that the Fed will change their opinion about money market funds, and they haven't changed it since the beginning. So, I think that will continue," Donahue said during a presentation at the Barclays Financial Services Conference Monday.

The Fed has been silent since Schapiro announced in August that she did not have enough votes to go ahead with money market reform. However, in a speech in June, Fed governor Daniel Tarullo alluded to "several second-best alternatives," for regulating the funds should Schapiro's efforts fall short. These could include placing limits on the degree to which banks can borrow from money market funds.

Citing this and other possible moves, Donahue sounded defiant on Monday.

"The Fed can certainly do some things both behind the curtain with capital at banks and directly with banks in terms of managing their short-term financing. But these things would not injure money funds or really change the lay of the land very much."

Investors appear to agree. They have pushed Federated shares higher by more than 38% year to date even as the threat of reform has hung over the industry. It is possible that no company has more at stake than Federated, which has some 75% of the assets it manages in money market funds, according to Barclays.

-- Written by Dan Freed in New York.

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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