Fidelity Investments said it would start disclosing the real value of its money market mutual fund shares each day, following a move by two Wall Street banks earlier in the week, as the largest players in the $2.5 trillion market try to stave off tighter regulations.
Boston-based Fidelity, the nation’s largest money market fund manager, with $430 billion under its watch, follows Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to disclose prices daily, instead of monthly.
Fidelity has vigorously fought increased regulation of money market funds since the financial crisis, which prompted fears of a “run” on such funds by anxious investors trying to cash out. The move to be more transparent is the latest effort to hold off regulators.
A fundamental aspect of money market mutual funds is that they always trade at $1 per share—you put in a dollar and you get out a dollar. That would remain the same under Fidelity’s new disclosure system. And the web site will still list the shares as valued at $1. But the precise market value of the assets underlying the funds will be tallied up each night and disclosed on the web site the next day.
Fidelity declined to say exactly where that price would be posted, but spokesman Adam Banker said it would be “readily available” and not difficult to find. The price is expected to be only minutely different from $1, probably by small fractions of a penny.
Fidelity says it has never had to make a capital contribution or cash infusion to keep its funds healthy and trading at $1. But other funds did have to do so in the financial crisis, and one, the Reserve Fund, actually “broke the buck” in 2008, when its holdings in Lehman Bros. were rendered worthless as the firm failed. It was only the second fund ever to break the buck; the other was in 1994.
According to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, 78 other funds sought capital infusions from their managers from 2007 to 2011, to prevent falling below the $1 share value.
Former Securities and Exchange Chief Mary Schapiro failed in her bid to increase capital cushions at money market funds, or to let prices trade at levels above or below $1, in no small part due to lobbying by Fidelity and others.Beth Healy can be reached at email@example.com.