The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) continues to take steps towards the implementation of its security-based swap (SBS) dealer registration framework. In a recent proposal, the SEC has sought to address certain questions as to the cross-border implementation of its SBS regime and, in some cases, to further harmonise its regulations with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission's swaps regulatory framework.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has proposed a series of changes to its general regulations governing derivatives clearing organisations (DCOs). While the proposed amendments intend to (among other things) enhance certain risk management and reporting obligations, many of them would require significant changes to current practice and impose new obligations on DCOs and their clearing members.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has proposed the first instalment of a series of amendments to its rules relating to swap data repositories and the reporting of swap data. The proposed amendments, which would affect Parts 23, 43, 45 and 49 of the CFTC's regulations, implement the CFTC's Roadmap to Achieve High Quality Swaps Data and are intended to improve the quality and accuracy of data available to the CFTC and the public and to streamline data reporting.
The government recently adopted Ministerial Order 2019-75, which aims to ensure that International Swap Derivatives Association-type master agreements on financial services continue to be used. To enable EU clients to pursue their existing contractual relationships after a no-deal Brexit, the order offers a simplified method of replicating a master agreement with an EU entity that belongs to the same group of companies as the UK financial institution with which that client had an existing contractual relationship.
The International Swaps and Derivatives Association recently published proposed amendments to its 2014 Credit Derivatives Definitions relating to narrowly tailored credit events. The proposal comes in the wake of concerns raised by market participants over certain failure to pay credit events, or claimed failure to pay credit events – in particular, the 2017 agreement by Hovnanian Enterprises to default on an interest payment to an affiliate in order to obtain favourable refinancing terms from GSO Partners.
In January 2019 France passed Act 2019-75, which authorised the government to take measures to prepare for the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union without a deal by way of ministerial orders, particularly in the area of financial services. Subsequently, in February 2019 the government adopted a ministerial order which, among other things, aims to ensure that International Swaps and Derivatives Association-type master agreements on financial services continue to be used.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) recently published the 2019 examination priorities for its three divisions. This marks the first time that the agency has published its divisions' examination priorities, which serves as part of the CFTC's efforts to advance its Project KISS (which stands for 'Keep It Simple, Stupid') initiative and demonstrates areas that the divisions view as particularly important to self-regulation in US derivatives markets for the coming year.
Towards the end of 2018, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) proposed significant revisions to the framework governing swap trading through swap execution facilities and designated contract markets. Many of these amendments are in line with recommendations contained in CFTC Chair J Christopher Giancarlo's white paper on swaps regulation reform. The proposed changes are intended to reflect developments in the swaps markets since the CFTC's implementation of its current regulations.
The Federal Council recently agreed to push back the effective date for derivative transaction reporting duties for small non-financial counterparties to 1 January 2024 and extend the corresponding transitional period. The corresponding amendment to the Financial Market Infrastructure Ordinance will enter into force on 1 January 2019. The reporting duties already in force for other market participants are unaffected.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chair J Christopher Giancarlo recently released a white paper recommending potential reforms to the agency's approach to the extra-territorial, or cross-border, application of its swaps trading rules. According to Giancarlo, the reforms are intended to create a territorial, risk-based approach that relies on greater deference to regulators in jurisdictions with comparable regulatory frameworks (comparable jurisdictions), where appropriate.
The National Futures Association (NFA) recently adopted an interpretive notice that requires futures commission merchants, introducing brokers, commodity pool operators and commodity trading advisers to disclose to customers certain potential risks involved when dealing with virtual currencies and virtual currency derivatives. The notice reflects the NFA's concern that, among other things, customers may not fully understand the nature of these products or the losses that could be sustained.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) recently proposed amendments to certain requirements for swap dealers and major swap participants to notify counterparties of their right to segregate initial margin for uncleared swaps. The proposal addresses several concerns previously raised by market participants about the existing rules, including through the CFTC's Project KISS initiative, which was intended to lift unnecessary regulatory burdens and reduce costs for market participants.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chair J Christopher Giancarlo and Chief Economist Bruce Tuckman recently published a white paper on potential reforms to the CFTC's swaps trading rules. The white paper proposes a series of changes to rules relating to transactions on swap execution facilities. Accompanying statements note that commission staff is expected to propose a formal rulemaking in this area in Summer 2018.
Virtual currency exchange Gemini recently released a proposal to create the first self-regulatory organisation for US virtual currency exchanges. The so-called 'Virtual Commodity Association' (VCA), as envisioned, would be a non-profit, independent regulatory organisation that would operate to foster responsible virtual commodity markets. The VCA would also encourage greater cooperation with relevant regulators in an effort to assist with the maturation of the virtual commodity industry.
The US District Court for the Eastern District of New York recently confirmed that virtual currencies are a commodity within the anti-fraud jurisdiction of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The ruling marks the first time that a federal court has affirmed the CFTC's 2015 determination that virtual currencies are 'commodities' as defined by the act. This provides the CFTC with further standing to police fraud in virtual currency spot markets.
Although changes in the regulatory landscape were limited in 2017, several steps, including the Capital Markets Report and Project KISS, may lay the groundwork for more significant developments to come, particularly now that regulatory agencies have new leadership and senior staff and have had an opportunity to review market participant feedback. There also remain a number of outstanding issues and emerging issues that are likely to demand regulatory attention in the coming year.
The US Department of the Treasury recently released its second in a series of four reports evaluating the US financial regulatory system. As it relates to the derivatives markets, the report does not advocate fundamental changes in the regulatory framework but suggests a change in regulatory emphasis. Further, it makes a series of specific recommendations that would broadly make incremental improvements suggested by market participants.
The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System recently adopted a final rule requiring US global systemically important banking institutions (GSIBs), their subsidiaries and the US operations of foreign GSIBs (covered entities) to amend many of their qualified financial contracts in order to restrict their counterparties' ability to immediately terminate such contracts in the event that the covered entity or an affiliate enters into bankruptcy or resolution proceedings.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has extended and revised no-action relief that provides an exemption from compliance with certain aggregation requirements for CFTC-specified position limits for futures and option trading. CFTC staff have indicated that they may consider further modifications to these requirements during the term of the relief.
The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) recently published a discussion paper to gauge market participants' views on how the future development of distributed ledger technology (DLT) should be regulated by the FCA in FCA-regulated markets. As industry efforts to use DLT continue, the FCA expects that in the second half of 2017 and into 2018 there will be more movement from the 'proof of concept' stage to 'real-world' deployments.