CFTC to move from rule writing to implementation

March 11, 2015 08:50 AM

Current Priorities

We have been very busy since two of my fellow commissioners and I took office last summer.  Our agenda today reflects several priorities.

First, the agency has largely finished an intensive rule-writing phase to create the new regulatory framework for swaps.  We are now focused on implementation of that framework.  One of our priorities has therefore been to focus on fine-tuning our rules, in particular to make sure that the commercial businesses, consistent with the Congressional mandate, that depend on these markets to hedge risk can continue to use the markets effectively.  We have made a number of changes to address concerns of commercial end-users.  This has included amending our rules to enable publicly-owned utilities to continue to be able to hedge their risks effectively in the energy swaps market.  We have proposed revisions regarding the posting of residual interest which is related to the posting of collateral with clearing members.  We have proposed exemptions for commercial end-users from certain recordkeeping requirements and clarifications to give the market greater certainty with regard to the treatment of contracts with embedded volumetric optionality.

In addition, the Commission staff has taken action to make sure that end-users can use the Congressional exemption regarding clearing and swap trading, including when they enter into swaps through a treasury affiliate.  The staff also recently granted relief from the real-time reporting requirements for certain less liquid, long-dated swap contracts, recognizing that immediate reporting can sometimes undermine a company’s ability to hedge.

We have also extended relief with respect to the treatment of package trades on swap execution facilities to avoid unnecessary disruptions in the marketplace.  There may be additional measures, such as today we are looking at trade option reporting rules and the rules on trading of swaps on swap execution facilities.

Finishing the Dodd Frank Rules.  We are also working to finish the few remaining rules mandated by Congress, including our proposed rule on margin for uncleared swaps.  This rule plays a key role in the new regulatory framework, because uncleared transactions will always be an important part of the market.  Certain products will not be suitable for central clearing because of their lack of sufficient liquidity or other risk characteristics.  In these cases, margin will continue to be a significant tool to mitigate the risk of default from those transactions and, therefore, the potential risk to the financial system as a whole. 

We are currently working with the bank regulators to finalize these proposed rules.  These rules exempt commercial end-users from the margin requirements, consistent with Congressional intent.  I am hopeful that we can finalize these rules by the summer.

We are also working on the rules on position limits and capital for swap dealers.

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