There was a run on olive branches Friday morning in Washington prior to Mary Schapiro
's appearance at the ICI GMM
. Schapiro gently asked the mutual fund industry to share its ideas on how to solve the problems with money market funds exposed by the financial crisis in 2008.
"Nothing is ever in ink," Schapiro said, "even when it is proposed."
Even before Schapiro took the stage at the annual mutual fund industry event, Investment Company Institute (ICI
) president Paul Stevens
made the rounds of the tables closest to the stage, telling members to "stand up" and applaud the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC
) chair when she took the stage. His cue was to call for a "warm welcome." Attendees followed Stevens' instructions and gave that warm welcome to Schapiro.
] Mellody Hobson
conjured her media interview skills to gently lead Schapiro to the money fund issues, only to have Schapiro broach the topic herself.
"We appreciate that there is great passion around this isssue and that the debate has been more dug-in and strident than other issues," said Schapiro.
Schapiro explained that the SEC had to confront the issue because the tools created by the Treasury and Federal Reserve in 2008 are now gone, and Congress has made it clear the tools are not coming back.
"I see a problem and think it is a threat to the system. How can we fix it?" she asked.
She also called for the industry to provide constructive comments and provide information such as informative and useful cost benefit analysis on the issues of capital buffers and floating NAVs. She also asked to hear about what other ideas are out there.
"Nothing is ever in ink. Even when it is proposed," explained Schapiro. She confided that the SEC "had fund firms in this week talking about this issue" and that "there is always the opportunity to shape the proposal."
What she seeks is the answer to the question of "is there a better way?"
She did joke that buying ads in the Washington Metro
may not be the most effective way to reach her and the SEC staff.
"I thought the best response to that was from the SEC spokesperson," she said. What was the spokesperson's response?
"We look forward to fitting the metro station into the public comment file."
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