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Institutional prime and institutional municipal money market mutual funds are funds that do not qualify as retail funds—i.e., they may be held by institutional investors. These funds are subject to potential liquidity fees and redemption gates, and will price and transact at a floating NAV (meaning that the NAV will be priced to 4 decimal places, e.g. $1.0000, and will experience fluctuations from time to time). The SEC would normally be the regulator to address the risks to investors taken by money market funds, however to date the SEC has been internally politically gridlocked. The SEC is controlled by five commissioners, no more than three of which may be the same political party. They are also strongly enmeshed with the current mutual fund industry, and are largely divorced from traditional banking industry regulation. As such, the SEC is not concerned over overall credit extension, money supply, or bringing shadow banking under the regulatory umbrella of effective credit regulation. In the wholesale market, commercial paper is a popular borrowing mechanism because the interest rates are higher than for bank time deposits or Treasury bills, and a greater range of maturities is available, from overnight to 270 days. However, the risk of default is significantly higher for commercial paper than for bank or government instruments.
Over time, money market fund "depositors" felt more and more secure, and not really at risk. Likewise, on the other end, corporations saw the attractive interest rates and incredibly easy ability to constantly roll over short term commercial paper. Using rollovers they then funded longer and longer term obligations via the money markets. This expands credit. It’s also over time clearly long-term borrowing on one end, funded by an on-demand depositor on the other, with some substantial obfuscation as to what is ultimately going on in between.