Two more major banks today took direct aim at money market mutual funds and announced that they would offer $100 million of so-called money market notes in minimum, consumer-sized denominations of $1,000.
Chase Manhattan Corp. and Continental Illinois Corp., the parent companies of the big New York and Chicago banks of the same name, said the seven-year notes would have their interest rates adjusted every Wednesday in line with the rate paid on one-month commericial paper. The notes would yield about 17.15 percent based on the weekly report of commercial paper rates released by the Federal Reserve.
Although the interest is adjusted weekly, it will be paid monthly.
In Geneva, meanwhile, Federal Reserve Board chairman Paul A. Volcker said that the variety of new investments being created by investment firms and banks "need to be reviewed . . . to see [to] what extent, if any, these new instruments should be brought under controls."
The Reagan administration said it opposes any controls on money market mutual funds, high-yielding investments which bankers claim have drawn off billions of dollars of their deposits. Banks cannot run money market funds. But the new notes, which presumably Volcker would examine as well, are aimed at competing with the money market funds for consumer dollars, according to Frederick Pape, managing director of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith.
Merrill Lynch, which runs the biggest money market mutual fund, is the lead underwriter for Chase and Continental, as well as Manufacturers Hanover Corp., parent of the nation's fourth-biggest bank, which pioneered the seven-year money market notes last week.
Joseph Connolly, senior vice president for finance at Manufacturers, said the notes compete with all money market instruments -- certificates of deposit (issued by banks, usually in denominations of $1 million or more, for from one to six months), commercial paper (short-term corporate IOUs, usually issued for a month or less, although by law they can have a maturity of up to nine months) and money market mutual funds.
But most money market instruments, such as certificates of deposit, or CDs, are issued in big denominations. The new seven-year notes, which still must go through procedures at the Securities and Exchange Commission, are issued in such small denominations that major targets are small savers, who in recent years have transferred much of their bank deposits into money market funds.
Money market funds, which are run by brokers, pool investors' deposits and buy money market instruments. Money market funds, on average, yield about 15 percent today.
The new notes will mature in seven years, although the issuing corporations can "call" them in two years. Unlike money market funds, which will pay investor his deposit immediately, purchasers of the money market notes issued by bank parent companies would have to sell them to another investor in the same way he or she would have to sell a stock or bond.