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November 20, 2011

US Supercommittee is nearing failure and European Debt Crisis threatens Money Market Funds

1. NY Times - Conceding that talks on a grand budget deal are near failure, Congressional leaders on Sunday pointed fingers at each other as they tried to deflect blame for their inability to figure out a way to lower the federal deficit without having to rely on automated cuts.

The focus increasingly is turning to how to perhaps change the mix of automated budget cuts before they take effect in January 2013, if no budget deal is reached this week.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that domestic programs would be cut by 7.8 percent, Medicare spending would fall by about 2 percent, while the biggest cut would be to defense programs, which would be reduced by about 10 percent.




2. Europe's debt crisis threatens to put the U.S. financial system under strain such as the strain in 2008 after Lehman failed. US policymakers are worried they cannot turn to the same, impromptu tools to shore up the $2.6 trillion money markets industry.

Various academics and regulators have backed a shift to a share price that can fluctuate, as opposed to the current money fund practice of guaranteeing a stable $1 per share value. But many companies worry such a change would drive away customers.

Some industry counterproposals involve building up extra capital in some type of "buffer" to backstop money funds that run into trouble. Asset management executives also say that changes put in place by the Securities Exchange Commission at the start of 2010 already have made the funds much more robust than during the crisis, including tightening credit quality standards and imposing liquidity requirements.

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