Report Card Time

ISDA Chief Executive Officer Scott O'Malia offers informal comments on important OTC derivatives issues in derivatiViews, reflecting ISDA's long-held commitment to making the market safer and more efficient.

In many parts of the world, schools have come to the end of their terms, which makes it a nervous time for students: they are waiting for the report card to arrive. We at ISDA empathize, as we too have been waiting for a report card. It came this past Friday, in the form of the Financial Stability Board’s Third Progress Report on Implementation of OTC Market Reforms. The report measures progress toward the G20 commitments to reform OTC derivatives markets, agreed upon at the 2009 meeting in Pittsburgh.

So how did the OTC derivatives markets do?

Pretty well. As the report states:

Since the FSB’s previous progress report in October 2011, encouraging progress has been made in setting international standards, the advancement of national legislation and regulation by a number of jurisdictions and practical implementation of reforms to market infrastructures and activities.

One part of the report – the FSB’s discussion of exchange and electronic platform trading and market transparency – was especially encouraging. It elaborates on a recommendation to consider costs and benefits from their October 2010 report by explicitly adding that, “Authorities need to take action to explore the benefits and costs of public price and volume transparency…. including the potential impacts on wider market efficiency, such as on concentration, competition and liquidity.” We can’t say that the FSB has read our cost-benefit analysis of the Dodd-Frank requirement for SEF execution, but that sounds very familiar to the cost concerns that we raised in that study.

The biggest takeaway is that much remains to be completed by the end-2012 deadline to achieve the G20 commitments. The FSB leaves no doubt that they will be closely watching and driving for progress in the months ahead.  As it states:

For the next progress report, the FSB intends to put additional focus on the readiness of infrastructures to provide central clearing, platform trading and reporting of OTC derivatives, the practical ability of industry to meet the requirements and the remaining steps for industry to take.

The report acknowledges that the largest markets in OTC derivatives – the EU, Japan and the US – are the most advanced in their progress. It also recognizes that other jurisdictions are understandably waiting for those three regions to finalize their approaches before committing to a particular path of reform. It urges all jurisdictions “to aggressively push ahead to achieve full implementation of market changes by end-2012 to meet the G20 commitments in as many reform areas as possible.”

That’s the assignment for the public sector. But the FSB also has some assignments for the private sector, ones that we at ISDA are actively engaged in. Market participants are urged to address standardization, clearing, trading on organized platforms and reporting to trade repositories. Check, check, check and check – those are on ISDA’s agenda as well.

In short, the report card was delivered, but there will be no extended summer break for the OTC derivatives industry or all of us here at ISDA.

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