derivatiViews: One Year On

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.

We launched derivatiViews just about a year ago, and one need only look at the topics we have covered to get a sense of the issues we and the OTC derivatives industry have been facing. Let’s take the opportunity to reflect on some of those issues and also consider what lies ahead.

Of course, regulation and its implications have been a steady focus of derivatiViews. We have tried to be constructive in our commentary, recognizing the challenges that regulators face as they create a new regulatory regime. For instance, we acknowledged the notion under CFTC rules of the “legally separated, operationally comingled” approach to cleared margin segregation as a serious effort to balance a range of different views. Similarly, although we are still studying the details of the product definition rules, we recently noted the hurdles that the CFTC and the SEC had to clear to get to a final rule. The issues facing other regulators, particularly those in Asia, have been a periodic theme of our posts.

One development we wouldn’t have anticipated a year ago was that we would be in litigation against a regulator, specifically the CFTC. As we explained in December, this was not a step we took lightly, but we, together with our co-plaintiff, the Securities Industry and Capital Markets Association, believed that the way position limits had been considered in the rulemaking process, particularly the lack of consideration of the costs and benefits, cried out for scrutiny by the courts. As of this writing we are still awaiting word from the judge on the case. Regardless of the outcome on the case, we will remain engaged in the US, Europe and around the world in achieving a regulatory structure that works for everyone affected by derivatives. Which is pretty much everyone.

The continuing financial crisis in Europe provided ample opportunity for us to comment. We used this platform to further understanding about the role of CDS, the need to understand the legal terms and the importance of collateral in helping to reduce risk in these trades. When, in the end, the EMEA Determinations Committee decided that the forced restructuring of Greek debt constituted a credit event, we reflected on the many lessons learned and highlighted steps that we would take in light of that experience.

Halfway through this year it is also an opportunity to reflect on progress on our resolutions for the new year. We have remained actively engaged in capitals around the world on the issues affecting our industry. We are also in contact with global bodies, such as the Basel Committee, the Financial Stability Board and IOSCO, which play an increasingly important role in regulatory for this global business. We commented on the recent progress report by the FSB on progress toward the G20 commitments, which acknowledged the progress that has been made, particularly on clearing, and the significant work that remains to be done. It also acknowledged that market liquidity should be a consideration as countries consider mandates for execution, which had been the subject of a derivatiViews post from late last year.

We also remain focused on the steps necessary to increase safety and efficiency of our markets, including the many aspects of clearing, from documentation to margin to capital. In just the past few months we have remarked on the demands on collateral given the reliance on it in cleared and uncleared trades, the connectivity between the cleared and the bilateral world and the challenges of achieving meaningful consistency in data and reporting. Each of these issues has serious implications for the safety and efficiency of our markets.

We will continue to pursue our stated goals for the remainder of this year and beyond. And we will be prepared to address new developments that will no doubt drive our agenda. Whatever develops, please continue to check back here at derivatiViews for our take.

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