MiFID II under starter’s orders

So, the much-anticipated trilogue meeting finally took place yesterday. With negotiators for Parliament and the Council of Ministers under heavy pressure to resolve issues and avoid a threatened return to the drawing board, ECON’s press release, published late last night, announced that informal agreement has been reached on MiFID II/MiFIR. Hurrah! Too early for champagne corks... Read More

Do not pass go, do not collect £200

It’s full steam ahead for the review of the Market Abuse Directive. At the end of 2013 the European Parliament and the EU member states reached a final agreement on MAD II that will cover offences such as insider dealing, market manipulation and unlawful disclosure of information. For the first time criminal sanctions will apply to serious financial market offences at an EU... Read More

Smoke-free markets

In recent months regulators have increased their focus on detecting and reporting possible incidents of market abuse. In Europe trading firms are expected to check for potential offences and report their suspicions to the regulator. As part of the MAD Review, the current list of indicators for market abuse will be promoted from a Level 3 document to the new Level 1 regulation text,... Read More

Hitting the bullseye

According to recent press articles, the MiFID II trilogue has agreed on capping dark trading at an arbitrary 4% per venue and 8% overall market share. At the heart of the discussion around dark trading lies the role of transparency in the wider market. While one side claims that transparency is the only thing that can keep fragmented markets efficient, the other side worries about... Read More

Keeping SEF doors open

The CFTC has come out strongly in defence of the open, impartial nature of SEFs, as envisioned by Dodd-Frank. In a letter issued last Thursday it warns SEFs not to use “enablement mechanisms” to control access to their markets, or to control which participants interact with one another on their platforms. It also warns against engaging in “prohibited discriminatory... Read More

Congratulations, you’ve (almost) reached Level 2

With the election of the European Parliament scheduled for May 2014, the Level 1 texts of MiFID II, MAD II and CSD Regulation are likely to be agreed before then. This means that next year will be all about drafting and agreeing the Level 2s for those laws. ESMA kicked things off at the end of last week, publishing the first discussion paper on the implementation of the Market... Read More

Time is of the essence

Last weekend heralded the official end of summertime as the EU put its clocks back one hour. Since most electronic clocks are updated automatically many of us hardly notice the difference, but others may be forgiven for waking up somewhat confused as to what time it really is. I guess that must have occurred to the legislators in Brussels when discussing the possibility of imposing... Read More

Inching closer to the goal

ESMA’s work on the single rule book for EU financial markets, set out in its 2014 work programme, shows the bulk of MiFID II/MiFIR deliverables falling into the last quarter. With the Level 1 text still expected to be agreed by the end of 2013, the revision of MiFID and MAD will then unfold into advice, technical standards and guidelines over the following year. I’m interested... Read More

Swaps regulation arrives – with a bang and a whimper

The swaps industry has for some time been fixated on October 2nd, the final date for compliance with SEF rules. But really the key date for market participants is when MAT (the “made available to trade” rule) kicks in and that, according to the industry consensus, is not likely to be before February 2014. With many of the 19 new SEFs only submitting their applications... 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

Looking through the CFTC’s prism

The CFTC’s recent Concept Release on Risk Controls and System Safeguards for Automated Trading Environments represents a watershed moment for US derivatives markets, setting the stage for a new regulatory approach to electronic trading. The CFTC’s role and powers have already been greatly enhanced, post-Dodd-Frank, through a combination of the new market abuse powers,... Read More

Value for money

The long list of topics to be tackled by ESMA in MiFID II Level 2 is laid bare in the EU regulator’s latest banking and investment services tender document, with submissions due by the end of this week. ESMA is seeking help with data gathering and analysis on a number of fronts, not least in order to specify detailed organisational requirements to be imposed on investment firms.... 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

Regulatory front-running

Front-running is regarded as a form of market abuse and is banned accordingly. Although it is widely accepted that MiFID II will implement new regulation on algorithmic and high-frequency trading, that doesn’t seem to have stopped the law makers indulging in a little ‘front-running’ of their own. First, Germany passed its HFT Act ahead of schedule and now France... Read More

Is there a doctor in the house?

These days there is no shortage of discussion among practitioners and legislators on how to develop financial markets in the future. And sometimes, like with any old bickering couple, all it takes is a third party perspective to find some common ground, which in this case might just be the academics. As proud supporter of the Sixth Erasmus Liquidity Conference taking place in Rotterdam... 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

The buck stops here

Money markets were rocked in 2008 when the Reserve Primary Fund committed the unthinkable by ‘breaking the buck’ because of its links to Lehman Brothers. This served as a wake-up call and in 2010 the SEC implemented amendments to the 2a-7 regulations which safeguard these types of investments. But many in the industry said they didn’t go far enough and on June... Read More

Anti-price discovery tax

This week saw the publication of the European Parliament’s amendments to the EU Financial Transaction Tax (FTT). As reported in the press, lower rates (until 2017) for sovereign debt and pension funds have found their way into the proposal. Unfortunately, some very unpleasant surprises crept in as well. According to the Parliament, firms engaging in high frequency trading... Read More

UCITS V – the debate rumbles on

The European Parliament vote on amendments to the UCITS IV Directive has been delayed. UCITS V, as it will be known, covers three main themes: depositary functions, regulatory sanctions and remuneration requirements. It’s the latter that no one can agree on, with bonus payment caps proving particularly contentious. Sven Giegold, the European Parliament’s Rapporteur on... 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

Double whammy

The latest published version of MiFIR is narrowing waivers, while widening its impact. Specifically, it has added a double cap limit to the pre-trade transparency reference price waiver. Limitations that may apply to the 4 existing waivers continue to evolve even as the Irish presidency of the Council of the European Union enters its final month before handing over to Lithuania. Article... Read More

Time to get comfortable with SEFs

The CFTC’s 29th meeting on Dodd-Frank rules, held in Washington, D.C. on May 16th, has been widely covered in the financial press. Final SEF (Swap Execution Facility) rules – including the so-called “Made Available to Trade” (MAT) rule – and minimum block sizes for swaps (among other rules) were approved by the Commission. Despite controversy, it’s... Read More

Buy-side steps up

With financial markets focused firmly on risk reduction – a key priority for the G20 – the buy-side is turning its attention to the issue of counterparty risk. This parallels well with the OTC clearing requirements set out in the Dodd-Frank Act. In a reaction to the perceived risk inherent in trading leveraged instruments without adequate safeguards, the regulators stepped... Read More

Swap your workflow

We’ve discussed the current course of regulatory change, specifically Dodd-Frank here in the States, and alluded to the “total set of changes the derivatives industry is going to go through”. But one thing is clear, the interrelationships between buy-sides, sell-sides (FCMs and swaps dealers, executing and clearing brokers) and CCPs is going to get increasingly... Read More

The long arm of the law

The buy-side has traditionally been spared from the burden of most regulatory trade reporting requirements, passing this responsibility on to their brokers who hold the exchange memberships. But this principle looks to have been challenged by BaFin, the German financial regulator, with the introduction of its High Frequency Trading Act. One of the aims of the law is to ensure that... Read More

Keeping to the letter of the law

Earlier this week BaFin, the German regulator, held a workshop on the German HFT Act. Global market participants gathered in Frankfurt to discuss and better understand the implications of the soon to be passed law. Questions around the definition of HFT, registration as an HFT firm when operating from abroad and the identification of algo orders were on everyone’s list. Fortunately... Read More

Stop/start for Dodd-Frank’s swaps rules

The Dodd-Frank Act, nearly three years old this summer, continues its slow, inexorable pace of implementation. In some respects, the financial landscape has changed unequivocally; in others, the final results of change remain to be seen, as the industry awaits additional rulemaking. Most of the current regulatory milestones impact only participants in the OTC swaps markets, but... Read More

Just when I thought we were out, they pull us back in

Since 2007 many of us in the industry have been attempting to iron out the inconsistencies (and confusion) introduced by MiFID around the use of venue of execution (VoE), Market Identifier Code (MIC) and Last Market (FIX Tag 30). In May 2012 FPL’s Buy-Side Working Group published its best practices for execution venue reporting, supporting the use of standard MICs on execution... Read More

Extraterritoriality agreement – maybe today, maybe tomorrow…

Extraterritoriality agreements for cross-border OTC derivatives have been hotly debated for a while now, but there have been few visible signs of progress in recent months. Last week the Chairman of the US SEC, Elisse Walter, presented her views on the complex area of equivalence and reciprocity. In her speech she referred to the problems that domestic regulators would face if forced... Read More

Take a break

Financial markets are global and closely interconnected. While this is largely beneficial for all market participants, it can also create spillover effects with unintended consequences. An academic study argues that liquidity can affect related instruments and create a feedback loop, or, put more pessimistically, a vicious circle. In simple terms, if liquidity evaporates in a derivative,... Read More

If it moves, tax it!

The proposal for a Directive implementing enhanced co-operation in the area of financial transaction tax (aka the EU FTT), with its eye-wateringly broad scope, will have to be churned through the legislation mills PDQ if it’s to meet its overly ambitious timeline. The would-be tax applies to all transactions where a counterparty is established in one of the 11 participating... 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

Consolidated tape – work continues

After endless discussions all over Europe, there is still massive confusion as to which European Consolidated Tape (ECT) model MiFID II will bring and when. Despite the uncertainty, the creation of a consolidated tape for equities remains firmly in the MiFID II text and on the buy-side’s wish-list. Behind the scenes of the ever-lengthening MiFID II timeline, and regardless of... 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

Italian uncertainty continues

On 21st February, just days before Italy’s general election, Economy and Finance Minister Grilli signed the application decree for the Italian Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) ahead of its effective date of 1st March. Arguably, the decree is in breach of another Italian law, the “Statuto dei diritti del contribuente” (Statute of taxpayers’ rights, Law 212/2000),... Read More

Bless me, Father, for I have changed my algo

Managing algorithmic trading will become more difficult in the future. Regulators have already suggested in recent drafts of MiFID II and the German HFT Act that algos need to be registered/earmarked and their functionality reported to the competent authority if requested. The European Parliament (EP) takes the requirement a step further in its draft in Article 10a in MAR. Here,... Read More

Pick a model, any model

Anyone reading the recent Presidency compromise MiFIR texts (published 4th and 13th February) can see that the subject of European Consolidated Tape (ECT) features again. The Council is now opting for appointment of one entity to collect trade reports and consolidate the data into a tape. Sound familiar? Dipping into the Regulation Matters Back catalogue I fished out the 3 operating... 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

La bozza del decreto

Italy’s Ministry of Economy and Finance published a draft of the decree for the Italian Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) just after the 31st January deadline imposed by the law (for an English translation visit our Raw material section). The decree sheds light on most of the dark corners left by the bill, detailing how charges are to be calculated, who is responsible for their... Read More

Coming soon – UK regulation with a whole new cast!

The number of mega blockbusters on the regulatory agenda this year would warrant their own awards ceremony. Whether it’s drama or comedy you’re after, there is certainly a regulation to suit every taste. One of my picks is the new UK regulatory structure epic Journey to the FCA (FSA, October 2012). Born out of the UK Financial Services Bill, the FSA will evolve into a new regulatory... Read More

Better consult…

Drafting new legislation is difficult and consulting the industry beforehand is sensible. Granted, where financial transaction taxes (FTT) are concerned this is tricky because no practitioner has anything good to say about it. However, beyond the mere purpose of FTT, the operational implementation is at least equally important. The current Italian FTT law has a number of issues... Read More

Dude, where is my level playing field?

At the heart of the European Union is the concept of a single market with a level playing field. Markets moving together, where trade and competition create benefits for everyone. Back in 2007, MiFID was a true testament to this when it introduced the idea of passporting regulatory oversight across Europe. Reading the latest regulatory news, there’s precious little to remind... Read More

One cliff avoided, another straight ahead!

The Italian Financial Transaction Tax (IFTT) passed into law over the Christmas holidays and shocked market participants around the world. Quite apart from the increase in tax levels compared to earlier drafts, the Italian government has invented an additional HFT tax based on the value of amended or cancelled orders (click here for more details). The French markets, luckily, didn’t... Read More

ESMA gears up for implementation

ESMA published a report last week on staffing and resources with regard to EMIR. After many years of public policy discussions and political deals, 2013 will be the year of hands-on implementation. Here are a few highlights from the document: • ESMA expects about 11 applications for Trade Repositories, each likely submitting a document between 200 and 1,000 pages long • ESMA... Read More

What’s in store for the coming year?

The European Commission adopted its work programme for 2013 (CWP) back in October, with the over-reaching aim to deliver financial stability, economic growth and jobs. In terms of new proposals, the CWP announced around 50 new initiatives to be tabled during 2013 and the first part of 2014. According to the EC President, José Manuel Durão Barroso: “The next step must be... Read More

The three (MAD) wise men

I find it rather appropriate this season that the three European bodies – the Commission, the Council and the Parliament (the latter with rapporteur Arlene McCarthy’s version) – are each bearing us a gift. Instead of the traditional gold, frankincense and myrrh, each is bringing its own take on the Market Abuse Directive. These slightly different texts will be... 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

Unintended consequences, par excellence

The law of unintended consequences is not kind. It will strike wherever it pleases and sometimes even in places you wouldn’t expect. In an ironic twist, the order-to-trade ratio (OTR) may not calm markets as intended but reduce average trade size even further. The OTR, or some variation of it, is used by many exchanges to manage their message load. Generally speaking, OTR counts... Read More

Wave your waivers goodbye

Since the introduction of MiFID in 2007 the concept of the pre-trade transparency waiver has been widely accepted and applied. However, following the latest regulatory discussions, there is a danger that we may have to wave goodbye to some of these waivers with MiFID II. It seems that the regulators feel that the existing waivers are interpreted too loosely and inconsistently across... Read More

Are we nearly there yet?

There has been a small flurry of activity this week around the subject of a European consolidated tape, but is the fog starting to clear yet? Let’s take a closer look at the facts. The parliament adopted text of MiFID II calls for an effective and comprehensive consolidated tape to be in operation as soon as possible. The scope is post-trade data for equities and equity-like instruments,... 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

My Roman travelogue

Separate from the upcoming European Commission proposal for a financial transaction tax (FTT) under ‘enhanced co-operation’, Italy is pushing ahead with its own flavour of FTT, similar to the French tax which came into effect in August this year. It took me longer than I expected to find something sensible about the Italian proposals. Reports in the Italian media were a little... 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

Market standards and the warm embrace of regulators

On 30th October the CFTC held a Public Meeting of the Technology Advisory Committee. Among other things, the possibility of a new Quality Management System Standard for automated trading was discussed. The AT 9000 standard is aimed at market system quality for automated trading in the financial industry. A preliminary timeline tells us that an informal working group started in July... Read More

The liquidity genie

Following on from the warnings to the contrary from the UK Foresight publication (see previous blog Some things in life are bad…), we have had a reaffirmation (if one was needed) last Friday from the plenary vote that the European Parliament is going to proceed to target speculation and high frequency trading through their new rules and regulations. The magic of the “Liquidity... Read More

Spotting a heart-shaped cloud in the sky

Last week the Foresight Project published its written report on HFT (see previous blog Some things in life are bad…) which gave a balanced picture with carefully drafted conclusions. However, during a presentation of the report’s findings on 23rd October, there was one particularly interesting issue that caught my attention. One of the speakers referred to a case, presented... Read More

Some things in life are bad…

The next step in the MiFID parliamentary process is the EP plenary vote, to gain the backing of the entire house, scheduled for tomorrow, Friday 26th October. The EP is forging ahead, with little likelihood of further changes, it seems, though there is a debate on MiFID scheduled for today. Given where we are in the timeline of the parliamentary process for MiFID II legislation,... Read More

A sensible request deserves a sensible response

The German government and the European Commission want to mandate earmarking of every algorithmic order in order to identify the originating strategy. The reason being that market supervisors have a difficult job keeping up with all those technical innovations in financial markets. In the good old pit trading days traders were restricted by physical limitations, but in a world where... Read More

A health check for dark pools?

Over the past few years, dark trading has been the subject of considerable attention all around the world and its success in growing market share has everyone talking about this phenomenon. When they first came into operation dark pools were embraced as an exciting new way to trade large orders with minimum market impact. More recently, however, with the increased levels of HFT... Read More

Think again, things are about to change!

Do you think a retail broker has to connect to all exchanges in Europe in order to offer best execution? Of course not! MiFID’s current definition of best execution is principles-based and takes into account more than just the execution price, but things are about to change. The latest MiFID II draft from the ECON vote contains a number of amendments that may cause you to... Read More

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction

ESMA recently published its Guidelines on ETFs and other UCITS issues. As their Chair, Steve Maiijoor, puts it “these comprehensive guidelines are aimed at strengthening investor protection and harmonising regulatory practices across this important EU fund sector”. At a high level here are the key provisions (plus some of my own comments): 1. UCITS ETFs must by identified... Read More

What you need to know before buying a German car

The latest draft of the German HFT ruling has some fairly serious implications for market participants and there is little time to prepare. The new law is expected to be finalised sometime in the middle of next year and the legislator expects the industry to comply within a three month grace period. Let’s look at some of the features added since the previous draft published... Read More

LEI – how many expert groups does it take to identify an entity?

With the latest progress note from the Financial Stability Board (FSB) on the Global Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) Initiative published last week, it’s a good time to look at the basics. In June 2012, with the backing of the G20, the FSB was tasked with driving forward the LEI initiative to create a universal numbering system to uniquely identify parties to financial transactions. The... Read More

The voice of reason

Electronic trading has fundamentally revolutionised financial markets in the last few years. But events such as the flash crash and the recent trading malfunction at Knight Capital have given market participants and regulators cause to worry that Pandora’s Box has been opened. Much of the concern raised by politicians and regulators is down to uncertainty; there is little... Read More

Brussels’ rules of etiquette

The on-going flood of new regulations and directives coming out of Brussels continues. With all its consultation papers, drafts, technical or implementing standards, recitals and articles, it is hard to keep your head above the waterline. Here are a few pointers to help you structure that paper flood into some more manageable channels. European laws and legislations are formally... Read More

And the winner is … a compromise!

Whoever said the political processes to formulate MiFID II and MiFIR were complicated and boring? Look at it from the right angle and it can be every bit as exciting as the knockout rounds of a FIFA World Cup tournament. In the World Cup football teams compete against each other and only the winner progresses. The last team remaining in the competition takes home the trophy. Politics,... 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

Ready, set, go!

France’s AMF has published a brief statement spelling out the implications of EMIR entering into force in two days’ time. In terms of timelines these are the most important dates: August 16th, 2012 – EMIR enters into force September 30th, 2012 – deadline for ESMA to transmit EMIR technical standards to the European Commission July 1st, 2013 – Earliest possible... Read More

Germany’s “Best of …” HFT law

A Europe-wide consolidated regulatory framework can have many advantages for the financial industry. Laws such as MiFID II, MAD II and EMIR create a level playing field that simplifies competition on a pan-European scale. However, in the last couple of months a number of national legislations have been enacted that make the playing field a bit more uneven, again. There are, for... Read More

Don’t buy it, if it’s not worth it!

Back in May, BATS Chi-X Europe announced that it will start charging for market data from 1st October. Last week Turquoise followed its competitor, announcing that it too will introduce fees for market data, effective from 1st November. While the former’s move could have been explained by its strong market share, this is not the case for the latter. BATS Chi-X had a market... Read More

New month, new tax

Yesterday, 1st August (already!), the new French Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) came into effect. With the fine print of the new tax only emerging over the previous few days, we’ve now added the French FTT to our ‘At a glance‘ page to provide you with an overview. The tax, which applies to the purchase of over 100 French stocks with a company market value of more... Read More

School’s out!

OK, school’s out and the head’s advice was “…don’t do anything silly, and come back refreshed and ready for the new challenges of next year.” The European Parliament is also on its summer break and the next ECON Committee vote on MiFID II is scheduled for 26th September, with a plenary vote on the calendar for 19th  November.  There remains, however, a whole lot of... 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

Lost in translation

Yesterday the CNMV (the Spanish regulator) and CONSOB (the Italian regulator) banned any short selling (naked or covered) in their respective markets. It is becoming more and more difficult to believe that these bans are imposed as a measure of good market regulation and not due to unrelated political considerations. On that point, a new study by Ian W. Marsh and Richard Payne analysed... 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

The horse hasn’t bolted, yet!

The Flash Crash catapulted circuit breakers into the public spotlight and showed how they (or rather the lack of them) can impact financial markets. Since then, in Europe at least, discussions have been relatively quiet. European markets are perhaps less prone than others to such massive price swings for two reasons. Firstly, Europe does not have the trade-through rule and, secondly,... Read More

Extraterritoriality, equivalence, reciprocity? It’s all Greek to me!

Following the latest MEP discussions in Brussels can be quiet challenging at times. Not only was this particular session interrupted by protesters, but MEPs kept throwing in technical terms in regard to third country regulation that not everyone might be familiar with. So here is a quick guide to cut through all the mist. Today, the access of third country firms to the EU markets... Read More

Sacrificial lambs and unintended consequences

Andy the Trader: I heard tick size is a topic in MiFID II, again. Haven’t we been through this already? Yes, you’re right. FESE and LIBA brokered an agreement between most European equity trading venues and sell-side firms in 2009. But the topic appears again in the latest proposed amendments for MIFID II (Article 51) and on ESMA’s work program. Andy the Trader: Once again,... Read More

European Regulation – A Tale in Four Acts

According to the Chinese calendar 2012 is the Year of the Dragon. But if you ask anyone in financial markets, 2012 is the year of the regulator. The latest white paper by Fidessa aims to help market participants negotiate the increasingly complex web of regulation that will result from the introduction of initiatives such as MiFID II, MAD II and EMIR. It examines some of the unintended... Read More

Obituary: Do-good Chi-X Europe

Young start-ups with highly disruptive business models usually have the luxury of having idealistic mission statements. Just remember Apple Inc. and the promise to “think different” or Google Inc. and their slogan “Don’t be evil”. In my view, Chi-X Europe was directly in that category when, many years ago, Peter Randall was screaming from the rooftops... Read More

Scream if you want to go slower

If you read the blogs, the tweets and the industry press, and attend the conferences, you could be forgiven for believing that all traders of financial instruments are completely consumed by the crazy race to zero. Some commentators say the game will run and run in an ever decreasing battle for nanoseconds. Others say that to simply chase and trade latency is not a viable or scalable... Read More

ESMA Guidelines – turning change into opportunity

Back in December last year you may recall that ESMA issued guidelines on systems and controls in an automated trading environment. The headlines from those guidelines caused a steady ripple of activity across the industry, in the first few months of 2012, as firms reviewed their processes and procedures to ensure compliance by the 1st May deadline or worked to have a plan in place... Read More

Keep calm and carry on

The debate around HFT and the impact on financial markets is getting more and more heated. The latest contribution is by Charlie Munger claiming that HFTs “have all the social utility of a bunch or rats admitted to the granary” and that “computer algorithms work a lot like legalised front-running of orders”. Maybe it is about time to ask everyone to keep... Read More

Much ado about nothing

ESMA is currently considering providing guidelines on fee structures. This sounds to me like the regulators are reviewing the maker-taker pricing model. MTFs introduced maker-taker pricing to Europe about four years ago, whereby liquidity providers receive a rebate for executing their passive orders, while liquidity takers will pay a fee for executing aggressive orders. Usually,... Read More

NO ENTRY into the Houses of Parliament in a suit of armour, and the MAD directives

While you may think that the title of this blog entry is obviously silly, it serves as a good example of the difference between sensible rules and bad rules. Think about it – can you work out the bad one? “NO ENTRY into the Houses of Parliament in a suit of armour” may sound ridiculous but, if you think about it, it made perfect sense when it was created at a time... Read More

Busy like a bee

ESMA just published an updated version of their work program for 2012. The regulator plans to produce no less than 77 technical standards, technical advice and guidelines and recommendations this year! The newly passed law on short selling will require 18 documents, while EMIR holds the record with 41 expected publications. Enjoy making sense of all that regulation. Luckily, in... Read More

Good intentions – bad results

Lobbying  in Brussels can be such a dirty business. Hidden agendas and vested interests are dominating the daily business. Thus, I was very pleased when Finance Watch (a non-industry lobby group, the lobbying arm of Occupy Wall Street, if you will) engaged in their mission to “making finance serve society”. However, the dream of a better world was crushed last week... Read More

Liquidity and the regulation of markets

Last week’s TradeTech in London included a talk about liquidity by David Lawton, the FSA’s Acting Director, Markets, during which he discussed all the hot potatoes that MiFID II has to offer.  For a change, this was not another piece of 500 millisecond nonsense but included some sensible and well considered arguments. Here are the highlights of his key points: •  ... 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

Block Trade: Endangered species or old habit?

Currently, MiFID favours block trades by granting them privileges that regular sized trades do not receive. A block trade between two institutional investors is treated rather like a Sumatran elephant that is way up on the red list of threatened species. Regulators protect block trades by allowing for pre-trade transparency waiver and delayed post-trade reporting. At the other... Read More

Regulation, regulation, regulation!

As market participants are still reeling from the attack on HFT and technological innovation in the latest draft amendments to MiFID II, let’s take a look at the rapporteur Markus Ferber’s draft changes to the proposed MiFIR EU regulation. The biggest change is that the OTF category, previously proposed in an attempt to regulate OTC trading on broker crossing systems, now looks... Read More

Treat the cause, not the symptom

The current MiFID II draft proposes a minimum duration for any order of 500 milliseconds (see Should have gone to Specsavers!). Politicians seem to believe that installing a minimum duration for orders will halt the HFT ‘madness’ and bring some much needed calm to the market. Unfortunately, it looks like they are going to treat only the symptoms and not the cause. Trading... Read More

Self-test – am I a HFT strategy?

The European Parliament has issued its rapporteur report for MiFID II, as discussed in The Rapporteur’s Story and Should have gone to Specsavers! The current proposal includes a definition of high-frequency trading strategy. Furthermore, it proposes to regulate HFTs more strictly. That scared me a little bit. After all, I do some trading in my spare time so I followed the definition... Read More

Should have gone to Specsavers!

On first reading of the draft report from the rapporteur on MiFID II it is unclear from the wording if the ban on direct electronic access is only in the context of high-frequency trading. Surely this must be the case, otherwise we may as well all pack up now. Additional draft amendments to the MiFID text worthy of note are: •    the timeline is crystallising with the final... Read More

The Rapporteur’s Story

Here’s a taster of what could be coming in the Q1 report from the rapporteur for MiFID II – EU lawmaker wants draft securities law beefed up. Looks like, as we expected, HFT could take the hardest hit and OTFs may be limited to non-equities. Thanks to Tor for spotting this article.  Read More

Border politics

There have been a number of articles recently covering exchange and regulator concerns around the effective detection of market abuse in Europe. FESE has recently published a position paper on the review of MAD in which it encourages policy-makers to consider the issue of effective cross-border and cross-venue surveillance. Fragmentation of trading across several venues outside... Read More

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