Financial Regulatory Forum

FACTBOX-Winners and losers in the U.S. financial bill

WASHINGTON, June 25 (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers are close to finalizing legislation that will overhaul the country’s financial system and usher in new rules for Wall Street.

A joint House of Representatives and Senate committee approved a bank regulation bill that lawmakers expect to pass each chamber separately in the coming days. It will then be ready for U.S. President Barack Obama to sign into law, possibly by July 4.

Below are some of the likely winners and losers under the regulation bill.

CREDIT RATING AGENCIES – WIN AND LOSE

* Credit rating agencies — such as Moody’s Corp, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings — will be subject to greater liability.

* Rating agencies could be sued if they “recklessly” failed to review key information in developing a rating.

* The Securities and Exchange Commission will be given two years to find a way to mitigate conflicts of interests at the biggest rating agencies, Moody’s, S&P and Fitch, which are paid by the issuers whose debt they rate. The two years give the agencies breathing space but if the SEC does not find a solution, the regulator is required to implement a proposal by Senator Al Franken and create a board to match rating agencies with debt issuers.

ANALYSIS-SEC panel pits wider debate over automated trading

By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK, June 22 (Reuters) – U.S. security regulators have billed a panel they host on Tuesday as a talk about liquidity, yet really at issue are the fading ideals of long-term investing and the brave new world of rapid, automated trading.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has brought together some of the biggest practitioners of “high frequency trading” — Tradebot Systems and Jump Trading LLC — and a flag bearer of deep value investing, Southeastern Asset Management Inc.

The title of the discussion, a “perspective on liquidity,” is apt considering the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission have identified a breakdown in liquidity as one of the likely causes of the still unexplained May 6 flash crash.

SEC summary for U.S. senator on senior staff porn use at work

Did senior staffers of the U.S.  Securities and Exchange Commission watch porn on their government computers while the financial system burned? Here is a link to an SEC inspector general’s summary report, via the Washington Post, which was prepared for Republican Sen. Charles Grassely of Iowa.

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U.S. Senate panel releases documents on credit raters’ role in Abacus, financial crisis

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a trove of internal messages and other exhibits from its look at the role credit-rating agencies played in the financial crisis, including several related to the Goldman Sachs Abacus trades at the heart of SEC fraud charges against the bank .  Reuters links to full file of exhibits.

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BREAKINGVIEWS – How Goldman Sachs fell out with the SEC

– The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

By Nicholas Dunbar

LONDON, April 20 (Reuters Breakingviews) – In December 2000 I received an email from the Goldman Sachs press office in New York, nominating the firm for Risk magazine’s “Risk Manager of the Year” award. Central to the pitch was how the Wall Street bank had run a boot camp for its supervisors at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, training them in concepts like value-at-risk and derivatives hedging.

It was a win-win move, both sides told me. Goldman ensured its regulator was up to date with financial innovation and earned brownie points for its efforts. By offering a “light-touch” regime for its charges, the SEC hoped to prevent the securities firms under its purview from basing their fast-growing over-the-counter derivatives operations in London.

SEC may have hard time finding other suits like Goldman

By Matthew Goldstein

NEW YORK, April 19 (Reuters) The civil lawsuit filed by securities regulators against Goldman Sachs Group from the sale of a security linked to subprime mortgages may not open the floodgates for similar enforcement actions of its kind as some believe might happen.

In fact, the case lodged by the Securities and Exchange Commission against Goldman and a 31-year-old bond salesman may prove to be more rare than initially believed, a close reading of legal documents in the matter reveals.

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ANALYSIS – US SEC’s new claws send shiver down Wall St

By Dan Margolies and Rachelle Younglai

WASHINGTON, April 16 (Reuters) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s fraud suit against Goldman Sachs sent a shiver down the spine of Wall Street, a sign the agency is determined to be an aggressive enforcer.

Wall Street’s largest bank stands accused of marketing a debt product tied to subprime mortgages that the SEC says was destined to fail.

There were fears on Wall Street the suit could cast a regulatory cloud over the entire investment banking industry.

INSTANT VIEW – SEC charges Goldman Sachs with fraud

(Adds additional comment)

NEW YORK, April 16 (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs Group Inc was on Friday charged with fraud by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in the structuring and marketing of a debt product tied to subprime mortgages.

The SEC alleged that Goldman structured and marketed a synthetic collateralized debt obligation that hinged on the performance of subprime residential mortgage-backed securities, and which cost investors more than $1 billion.

The following is reaction from industry analysts and investors:

MALCOLM POLLEY, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, STEWART CAPITAL ADVISORS, INDIANA, PENNSYLVANIA:

U.S. trial over credit-default-swaps tests laws on insider trading

By Grant McCool

NEW YORK, April 7 (Reuters) – Were conversations between a bond salesman and a trader over credit default swaps a case of illegal insider trading? Or were they just part of the sharing of information that typically occurs in negotiations over high-yield bonds?

That depended on who was arguing in court on Wednesday as a trial began of Deutsche Bank AG bond salesman John-Paul Rorech and former Millennium Partners hedge fund portfolio manager Renato Negrin on civil insider trading charges.

The trial is a signature case for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, its first enforcement involving credit default swaps, financial instruments used to insure against the default of debt issuers. Legal experts consider the case a test of whether regulators can make insider trading cases in the unregulated market for the swaps.

ANALYSIS-Deck chairs secure aboard USS Financial Regulation

By Kevin Drawbaugh

WASHINGTON, March 21 (Reuters) – The big U.S. government agencies in charge of policing banks and markets, despite being excoriated over the severe 2008-2009 financial crisis, have successfully dodged a major structural shake-up.

While Congress may yet clamp down on the financial industry from Wall Street to Main Street, a top-to-bottom overhaul of the nation’s regulatory apparatus — which seemed like a certainty a year and a half ago — is not going to happen.

As political reality has tempered reform proposals, plans to reconfigure a patchwork bureaucracy stitched together over decades have faded from view, with just one agency closure still on the negotiating table.

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