The Stability of Prime Money Market Mutual Funds: Sponsor Support from 2007 to 2011
It is commonly noted that in the history of the Money Market Mutual Fund (MMMF) industry only two MMMFs have "broken the buck," or had the net asset value per share (NAV) at which they transact fall below $1. While this statement is true, it is useful to consider the role that non-contractual support has played in the maintenance of this strong track record. Such support, which has served to obscure the credit risk taken by these funds, has been a common occurrence over the history of MMMFs. This paper presents a detailed view of the non-contractual support provided to MMMFs by their sponsors during the recent financial crisis based on an in depth review of public MMMF annual SEC financial statement filings (form N-CSR) with fiscal year-end dates falling between 2007 and 2011. According to our conservative interpretation of this data, we find that at least 21 prime MMMFs would have broken the buck absent a single identified support instance during the most recent financial crisis. Further, we identify repeat instances of support (or significant outflows) for some MMMFs during this period such that a total of at least 31 prime MMMFs would have broken the buck when considering the entirety of support activity over the full period.