CFTC to move from rule writing to implementation

March 11, 2015 08:50 AM

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Cross-Border Harmonization.  We are also focused on addressing cross border issues related to the new framework.  We have had productive discussions with the Europeans to facilitate their recognition of U.S. based clearinghouses, and I would hope that we could reach agreement soon.  Another important area for cross-border harmonization is the proposed rule I just mentioned, concerning margin for uncleared swaps.  We have been working with our counterparts in Europe and Japan, and I am hopeful that our respective final rules will be substantially similar, even though they are not likely to be identical.

Data.  We have also made enhancing our ability to use market data effectively a key priority.  We continue to focus on data harmonization, including by helping to lead the international work in this area.  We are also looking at clarifications to our own rules to improve data collection and usage.  We have a lot of work to do in the area of data generally, but we have come a long way since 2008, when we knew very little about the swaps market.  Today, there is real time price and volume information and we have much better insight into participant activity.

New Challenges and Risks.  We are also looking at new challenges and risks in our markets.  We have been very focused on the increased use of automated trading strategies, for example, and their impact on the derivatives markets.  We issued a concept release last year and we received a lot of very useful input.  We are also keenly focused on cybersecurity, which is perhaps the single most important new risk to market integrity and financial stability.  We have incorporated cyber concerns into our core principles and made it a priority in our examinations.  Our challenge is to leverage our limited resources as effectively as possible.  Many major financial institutions are spending far more on cybersecurity than our entire budget.  We do not have, for example, the resources to do independent testing.  So one of the things we are looking at is whether the private companies that run the core infrastructure under our jurisdiction – the major exchanges and clearinghouses for example – are doing adequate testing themselves of their cyber protections.  We are holding a public staff roundtable to discuss this issue next week.

Enforcement and Compliance.  We also remain committed to a robust surveillance and enforcement program to prevent fraud and manipulation.  We have held some of the world’s largest banks accountable for attempting to manipulate key benchmarks.  We have brought successful cases against those who would attempt to manipulate our markets through sophisticated spoofing strategies.  And we have also stopped crooks trying to defraud seniors through precious metal scams and Ponzi schemes.  In all these efforts, our goal is to make sure that the markets we oversee operate with fairness for all participants regardless of their size or sophistication.

Ensuring the Strength and Stability of Clearinghouses in the New Regulatory Framework

Let me turn now to discuss clearinghouses.  In just about every speech I have given since taking office, I have talked about our progress in implementing the mandate to clear standardized swaps.  In our markets, the percentage of swaps cleared has increased from 15% in December 2007 to about 75% today.  At the same time, I have talked about the importance of clearinghouse stability and oversight.  As we make clearinghouses even more important in the global financial system, we must pay attention to the risks that they can pose.

Lately, there has been increased discussion of this, with many views put forward in papers and speeches, on issues like clearinghouse resiliency, recovery, and resolution.  Questions are being asked in particular about the adequacy of recovery plans, about whether clearinghouses have enough capital or “skin in the game,” and whether the potential liability of clearing members is properly sized or capped.  This is a good and healthy debate.  Today, I would like to discuss how we at the CFTC think about some of these issues.  Let me do so by first talking about the work that has taken place in this area, both by us and internationally, then discuss the need to look at issues in context, and then discuss the work that lies ahead.

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