Two for one

If nothing else, we know the new regime in the US likes a good punchy sound bite. As many of us predicted, President Trump and his team have their sights firmly set on loosening the burden of Dodd-Frank and other regulatory sets that they feel make for a hostile business climate. The tagline of Trump’s executive order for regulatory reform is “two for one” –... Read More

Let’s agree to disagree

With hindsight, last year’s discussion about the differences in defining direct electronic access (DEA) under MiFID II and RegAT may have been somewhat premature. Firstly, with the change in both the US administration and the CFTC leadership it is now uncertain how RegAT will be progressed. Secondly, over the last few months it’s become clear that we can’t even... Read More

A Trump card for regulation?

It’s difficult to argue against any sensible form of regulation that ultimately makes the financial markets fairer and safer for all participants, but implementing and complying with all the new rules that apply across our industry is, undeniably, a very costly business. So when President-elect Trump’s newly sworn-in, eager-to-please United States Congress puts forth... Read More

The regulation holiday effect

Global harmonisation of financial regulation is high on the wish list of many trading firms and, in one sense at least, the regulators in Europe and the US are pretty well harmonised. Both have a tendency to publish long-awaited documents right before major holidays. Last week we saw another example of the regulation ‘holiday effect’ with the CFTC publishing its consultation... Read More

CFTC keeps source on the menu

Open commentary for Regulation AT is now officially over, and while the CFTC mulls over the mostly cautious responses there is some time to reflect on how best to prepare for enforcement of the rules. However, the loftiest piece of proposed legislation in the carte de jour isn’t about futures or traders at all, but the underlying source code of the systems associated with them,... Read More

All ‘ayes’ on RegAT

Last week, following an open meeting on the subject, the CFTC’s motion to move forward with its proposed Regulation on Automating Trading (RegAT) was passed unanimously by 3 to 0. Following a brisk set of opening remarks by Commissioners Bowen and Giancarlo, and a statement by Chairman Massad, the Division of Market Oversight valiantly attempted to present a case for the CFTC... Read More

Ranks of cross-border issues swell

Payment for research and unbundling has been on the European regulatory agenda for some time. It has now escalated to a cross-border issue after concerns were raised with the US SEC by a senior US politician worried about the impact on US growth industries. The recent past gives us plenty of examples of cross-border issues from both sides of the Atlantic – the US person under... Read More

Synchronising regulation

US securities industry regulator FINRA recently implemented new time-stamping rules, a topic also on ESMA’s MiFID II task list. FINRA requires US firms to express time in milliseconds when reporting trades to the FINRA facilities and order events to OATS, while ESMA’s proposal wants HFT firms to timestamp records to the nanosecond. That’s a whopping one million... Read More

Hedging swaps with futures: a thing of the past?

As the industry continues to speculate on the trajectory of the swaps market, what’s in store for the final package trade exemption expiring on November 15, 2014, when packages consisting of swaps against futures (so-called ‘invoice spreads’) must be traded on a SEF? The problem with invoice spreads is that the futures component (typically treasury note futures)... Read More

Money Market Funds – what cost safety?

Tomorrow the SEC’s five member Commission is expected to vote on new changes to rules for money market funds (MMFs), but will the changes be safer or costlier? The two main changes will see ‘prime’ funds move to a floating NAV and boards permitted to impose redemption fees or even suspend redemptions on a temporary basis. This is all designed to make MMFs less... Read More

The long arm of the IRS

The effective date for the long-anticipated US FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) is here and the impact on investors’ pockets could be substantial. After today wallets may be a little lighter for those hit with the 30% withholding tax on their US sourced payments on things such as dividends, interest and insurance premiums. Even as the markets continue to stabilize and... Read More

What role for OTFs?

Last week the CFTC published another no-action letter with respect to trading swaps on a European MTF. At the heart of the discussion is the question of whether European MTFs can be considered as equivalent to US SEFs. Given that a number of banks within the scope of Dodd-Frank also need to trade swaps within Europe, this is an important issue. In Europe, the discussion around swaps... Read More

SEF and agency make a perfect MATch

From next Tuesday, February 18th, US market participants will be required to trade fixed-floating interest rate swaps denominated in dollars or euros for standard benchmark tenors on a SEF. Long part of Dodd-Frank’s Title VII statute, this trade execution mandate now comes about and follows the CFTC’s certification of Javelin’s MAT submission last month. During... Read More

Identity crisis for algos

Yesterday saw the publication of the XETRA and Eurex rule changes relating to the German HFT Act in which they provide details of how to implement the new RegulatoryID. Under the new rules it will no longer be enough simply to differentiate between algo and non-algo orders (such as under the current CME regime). Starting from 1st April 2014, all orders sent by an exchange member... Read More

Next Stop St. Petersburg

Back in 2009, in the wake of the financial Armageddon, world leaders pledged in their G20 commitment in Pittsburgh that all standardised OTC derivative contracts should be traded on a platform and centrally cleared by the end of 2012. Fast forward four years and the next G20 summit takes place in St. Petersburg, Russia at the end of this week – the first meeting since the... Read More

If it looks like a duck…

Dividing derivatives contracts into over-the-counter and exchange-traded would seem to be a simple task, but this is far from true. Thanks to EMIR’s definition of ‘on-exchange‘, contracts that are traded on anything other than a regulated market (RM) will be considered OTC regardless of whether they are traded on an MTF or are economically equivalent to the on-exchange... Read More

Uncertainty abides amidst a flurry of CFTC activity

It’s a busy – not to mention dramatic and uncertain – time for U.S. derivatives regulation. Consider the milestone of final SEF rules and yesterday’s “Category 2″ clearing deadline. Consider, too, the on-going uncertainty as to the pending expiration of the exemptive relief on Dodd-Frank’s cross border rules (also known as ‘extra-territoriality,... Read More

Half a job

MiFID, the mother of all European financial regulation, rumbles on and on. The European Commission’s MiFID II consultation in 2011, the Ferber Report in March 2012, and the European Parliament vote in October 2012 were all highly anticipated and widely reported on. But despite the fact that the Council of Ministers has published more than 20 different drafts during the Cyprus... Read More

A cry for help

More and more industry representatives are complaining about the politicisation of the rule-making process in financial markets. In Europe, politicisation has triggered some absurd episodes, such as the proposal for the greatest uncontrolled financial market microstructure experiment in the world (aka the minimum resting period of 500 ms) and the introduction of short selling bans... Read More

MAD as a March hare

The reviews of the Market Abuse Directive (MAD II) and proposed EU Market Abuse Regulation (MAR) continue to run their course through the European trilogue process, with final Level 1 agreement expected to keep pace with the MiFID review spanning out into the second half of 2013. MAD II and MAR will bring increased obligations on firms, including criminal sanctions, in the event... Read More

CAT’s eyes on the US market

While Europe still doesn’t have a consolidated post-trade tape, US regulators are moving forward with an ambitious plan that will eventually provide them with a detailed view of the entire market, readily available on a next-day basis. After the usual drawn-out process to approve SEC Rule 613, the industry has started work on the Consolidated Audit Trail, or CAT. The SEC has... Read More

You can’t have your cake and eat it

Extraterritoriality agreements are important for many firms because they can reduce the burden of redundant and conflicting rules across different countries. Last November, considerable concerns were voiced by numerous regulators around the globe with regard to the CFTC Cross-Border Guidance relating to the US swap markets. Among the protestors were representatives of the European... Read More

Is FTT heading for Wall Street?

Over the past few months, many in the US trading community have been quietly mobilizing against European Financial Transaction Taxes being collected within US borders. The voice of opposition grew louder yesterday with the Security Traders Organization (STA) calling on market participants to take action by communicating to their elected representatives their “strong opposition”... Read More

Here comes the CFTC: the regulators keep coming back for more

The latest batch of rules from the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which come into effect on December 31, 2012, will require many firms currently outside the CFTC’s supervision to register as Commodity Pool Operators (CPOs). A new exemption test – the de minimis test – will need to be applied by firms daily to check their levels of commodity interest against... Read More

Extraterritoriality reality?

Legislators and regulators all around the globe are rushing to meet the G20 commitment of shifting all standardised OTC derivative contracts onto exchanges or electronic trading platforms. Naturally, every country is trying to clean up its own backyard before looking across the fence at its neighbour’s. The disadvantage of this approach is that country-specific rules might... Read More

Is the grass any greener on the other side?

On 30th October the CFTC’s Sub-Committee on Automated and High Frequency Trading Working Group 1 presented its definition of HFT to the CFTC Technology Advisory Committee. This is very interesting, as the European Parliament already published its version on 26th October. Let’s compare notes across the pond. Both approaches define HFT as a sub-category of algorithmic... Read More

Sensible timeframes please!

The final text of EMIR (European Market Infrastructure Regulation) entered into force on 16th August and the next milestone for ESMA, to complete the Level 2 text by the end of September, is fast approaching. ESMA’s consultation on the draft technical standards received over 130 responses before the 5th August deadline. Whilst there is general support for the key aims of EMIR,... Read More

The consolidated tape’s blind spot

In the US the consolidated tape aggregates trade data across multiple exchanges. However, the consolidated tape does not include trades for less than 100 shares of stock. Looking at this today, it is surprising that such an exception was implemented. In the past such small trades were regarded as retail trades with very little information content, thus they were perhaps not considered... Read More

Dodd-Frank: Implications of the latest swap definition rule

Following the CFTC’s recent approval of a swap definition lawyers and the OTC derivatives industry are busy digesting the 600 page ruling. In effect, this kicks into motion an October 2012 timeline around the implications of two very significant previously defined rules for the regulation of OTC derivatives: Swaps defined by this rule must be cleared; and Swaps defined... Read More

We learn from history that we do not learn from history

Many people might have missed it, but between 1905 and 1981 the New York state imposed a Security Transfer Tax. The tax was based on the par value (aka stated value, or face value) of stocks traded, transferred or delivered in New York State. It was not implemented as a financial stability measure, but as a revenue generator to fund the state deficit. Following the 1932 and 1966... Read More

Deciphering the new map

Two key themes – liquidity and risk – always rise to the surface of any discussion around the implementation of regulation for OTC derivatives trading in Europe and North America. A couple of recent articles in The Economist neatly outline both sides of the argument by discussing risk, potentially increasing transaction volumes and strategic business opportunities arising... Read More

SEC Large Trader Reporting Rule

Many thanks to Jess Haberman in our New York office for this summary of the SEC Large Trader Reporting rule: In July 2011 US Securities and Exchange (the SEC) Commissioners unanimously approved the Large Trader Reporting rule; the aim is to “… promptly and efficiently identify significant market participants and collect data on their trading activity so that we can reconstruct... Read More

Letter from America

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was signed into law by President Obama on July 21, 2010 and the US is in the midst of a rule-making process. You may have read in the press that the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is in the process of delaying the implementation of the Dodd-Frank financial changes. Last week it was also reported that... Read More

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