Futures players speak at CFTC open meeting

In an open meeting, the CFTC invited regulators, exchanges, brokers, money managers, dealers, and academics to discuss ways and means to ensure customer collateral protection in the wake of the MF Global collapse.

The Commission and participants discussed proposed regulations, including keeping more client funds at clearing houses, requiring brokers to keep a buffer of excess customer funds on reserve, creating an insurance fund to reimburse clients who lose money in a default, and having broker chiefs sign off on large transfers of money that could potentially belong to clients.

Panel members were at odds over the rules’ efficiency, and failed to agree on deals for broadly popular ideas. For instance, members debated how often brokers should report customer fund investments, to provide transparency. The Futures Industry Association said it would prefer if brokers report investments monthly. CME Group said it was looking at a proposal for daily reports.
Panel members also quibbled over plans to safeguard customer money in over-the-counter swaps trading for futures. According to Reuters, Tom Hammond, president of ICE Clear US, said the commission and the industry would be “hard pressed” to explain why the OTC model for large hedge funds “can’t be applied to farmers, ranchers, and cotton growers in the U.S. if it adds extra protection and it’s cost effective.” Tim Doar, a CME Group Inc managing director, said he was not wholly convinced that the OTC model did protect customers. Others protected additional costs.

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