Monday, March 19, 2012

Andrew Kahr: ultra transparency for money market funds and banks

In his American Banker column, Andrew Kahr, founding chief executive of First Deposit/Providian, makes the argument for why money market funds and banks should be required to provide ultra transparency and disclose on an on-going basis their current asset, liability and off-balance sheet exposure details.

I can actually understand and believe a money fund balance sheet. Just show me one bank anywhere whose balance sheet I could likewise rely upon. They're as transparent as the average Chinese public company. 
Consider: commercial real estate in the community banks; liability for fraudulent issuance of securities in the megabanks; and banks' constant howling against mark-to-market — that doesn't increase my confidence in whatever they choose to report. Will I say grace over the examiners', auditors' and rating agencies' judgments on value &mdash despite their recent abject failures? 
Much of the attraction of money funds to investors is that they're NOT banks. 
No, money funds are not 'banks by another name." They're transparent, while banks are opaque. 
If money funds need even greater transparency, let's do it. Publish the balance sheet every day online, or every minute. Explain how all assets are valued.... 
Now let's design the fabled "level playing field." Require banks to [publish their on and off- balance sheet exposure details every day online].

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