Financial Regulatory Forum

Offshore U.S. oversight of derivatives may bolster defenses against JPMorgan-type losses

By Nick Paraskeva

NEW YORK, May 29 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – U.S. regulators are looking to use new their oversight authority over foreign derivatives trades to reduce the chances of new shocks such as JPMorgan Chase & Co’s trading loss of at least $2 billion.

Pointing out that JPMorgan’s money-losing trades on a credit default swap index were conducted in a London unit, similar to recent failures at AIG and Lehman Brothers, Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler said implementation of Dodd-Frank regulatory reform rules would improve supervision of such activity in the future by expanding cross-border oversight. (more…)

JPMorgan case puts Volcker Rule and SIFIs back in the spotlight

By Patricia Lee

NEW YORK, May 23 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – The massive losses which resulted from JPMorgan Chase hedging its positions against derivatives has once again cast the spotlight on the Volcker Rule and whether systemically important financial institutions (SIFIs) are too big to fail, industry observers said. Questions have also been raised about the firm’s hedging strategy, and what constitutes hedging in the first place.

Industry officials in Asia suggested that JPMorgan’s $2 billion hedging losses might embolden regulators to strengthen the Volcker Rule, on the premise that it would be of benefit to SIFIs. The rule, named after former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, forms part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and has proposed the separation of proprietary trading from commercial banking activity. Most notably, it has argued against investing in derivatives or using derivatives as a hedge on investments. The rule has, however, faced strong opposition from many of the large global financial institutions. (more…)

JPMorgan AGM punctured by thorny hedge issues

By Christopher Elias

LONDON/NEW YORK, May 17 (Business Law Currents) - JPMorgan’s disastrous $2 billion hedge loss has raised some thorny issues on management oversight, corporate governance and the effectiveness of the Volcker Rule, as division at the banking giant’s annual general meeting highlight a growing tension between its shareholders and management.

Little more than a week ago, prior to Tuesday’s annual general meeting (AGM), JPMorgan announced that it had incurred a $2 billion loss as a result of a hedge gone wrong from its London offices with the possibility of $1 billion in additional losses to follow. (more…)

JPMorgan may tip Wall Street’s hand on ploys to beat Volcker

By Rachel Wolcott

NEW YORK, May 14 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - JPMorgan Chase & Co’s revelation that it had trading losses of at least $2 billion on a failed hedging strategy may have tipped the hand to one way Wall Street executives plan to get around the Volcker Rule.

The incident shows how firms could use the pending rule’s hedging exemption to do proprietary trades and still technically be compliant with Volcker. It could allow firms to keep some proprietary trading desks, but portray them to regulators as something else, such as portfolio hedging. (more…)

SOPA, FATCA and the Volcker Rule: the border busters

By John Mackie (Canada)

(Business Law Currents) – The global nature of business has perhaps never been more evident than in the wake of the U.S. housing crisis, the natural disasters in Japan and the ongoing European sovereign debt ruckus. Industries and national economies do not exist in a vacuum, nor do the regulatory changes which nations seek to implement in order to address widespread concerns.

The most recent example of the “extraterritorial” impact of a nation’s laws is a rule being promulgated under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the Dodd-Frank Act). Released last October, the Volcker rule is a proposal to prohibit proprietary trading and hedge or private equity fund investments by banking entities. (more…)

Global regulation 2011: a review of policies that shaped the business world

Jan. 10 (Business Law Currents) — Global regulators have been anything but idle in 2011. Predictably, the U.S. regulatory landscape was dominated by the 800-lb. statutory gorilla, the Dodd-Frank Act. Canada busied itself trying to accommodate Basel III’s coming capital requirements. Anti-bribery regulation managed to elbow its way into UK headlines in spite of a phone hacking scandal and a royal wedding. China cracked down on loopholes for variable interest entities, while Australia’s new tax regime found few friends in the mining sector down under. (more…)

Banking on Volcker: Big Crisis, Big Rule

By Thomson Reuters Accelus staff

NEW YORK, Oct. 19 (Business Law Currents) – Banking lawyers should be forgiven if they’re not returning calls right away: they’re busy trying to digest the Volcker Rule (or “the rule”). The proposed rule’s 298-page doorstop represents the collective efforts of the Treasury Department, Fed, FDIC and SEC to implement §619 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which itself added a new §13 to the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 (the BHC Act). The intent of the Volcker Rule is to “generally prohibit any banking entity from engaging in proprietary trading or from acquiring or retaining an ownership interest in, sponsoring, or having certain relationships with a hedge fund or private equity fund (“covered fund”), subject to certain exemptions.”

So does the Volcker Rule satisfy its mandate? To paraphrase ‘The Simpsons’: yes with an “if,” no with an “unless.” The rule carves out significant exemptions from the proscription against proprietary trading, but each of these exceptions has a number of criteria required to take advantage of the exemption. Moreover, a number of the rule’s measures provide for rebuttable presumptions of non-compliance for certain types of trading activity. (more…)

Where to put the ring-fence: implications of the UK bank report

By Peter Elstob

LONDON, April 12 (Complinet) – The Independent Commission on Banking said on Monday that separating retail and wholesale banking in some way might have “a number of potential benefits”, and it invited views on the best design for a “retail ring-fence”.

In an annex to its interim report, the commission illustrated one way to devise such a ring-fence. This is to divide banking business into three broad categories: activities which must take place within the ring-fence; activities which may take place within it; and those which may not take place within it.

But the example leaves a lot of room for interpretation. (more…)

Wall Street reform gridlock seen after US elections

By Kevin Drawbaugh

WASHINGTON, Oct 28 (Reuters) – If Republicans make big gains in U.S. Congressional elections on Tuesday, as expected, Wall Street and big banks will have sweet, but incomplete, revenge on Democrats who drove through sweeping financial reforms against industry opposition.

The likeliest outcome of Democrats losing control of one or both chambers of Congress will be divided government and two years of legislative gridlock on issues important to the financial services sector, said policy analysts and aides.

That means the sector’s regulatory headaches — near migraine level following the enactment in July of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act — won’t get worse, but probably won’t get much better, either.

ANALYSIS-Even with new rules, life goes on for Wall Street

By Steve Eder

NEW YORK, June 25 (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers have hammered out a law that is designed to fundamentally change Wall Street, but financial professionals largely yawned.

Legislators took steps that at first blush could change the industry, including limiting banks’ swaps-dealing operations and their investments in private equity and hedge funds.

But in the end, banks like Goldman Sachs Group Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Morgan Stanley won concessions that watered down the proposals that could have been most damaging to their profits, staving off a watershed overhaul like the one that took place after the Great Depression.

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