Back to the Drawing Board on Derivatives Regulation

U.S. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) distributed a proposal for derivatives regulation this week and it was the subject of a hearing by the committee yesterday.  A major part of the discussion centered on a potential loophole that would allow many corporations, if not all, to avoid the new regulation altogether. Here is what reported about the hearing and draft legislation prepared by Chairman Frank.

A plan offered by the Obama administration would subject all swaps dealers and “major market participants” to new regulations for capital, business conduct, record-keeping and reporting. Frank’s version would exempt corporations from that definition if they use derivatives for “risk management” purposes.

While Frank’s proposal is a “step in the right direction,” its “ambiguous” definition of risk management may leave a large number of corporations unregulated, Henry T.C. Hu, director of the SEC’s new division of risk, strategy and financial innovation, told the committee.

“As just about all swaps could be defined as being used for risk management purposes, we’re concerned that unintentionally the category of ‘major swap participant’ could have been narrowed so significantly, or even to a null set,” CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler told reporters after the hearing.

“Major hedge funds” may be excluded from oversight, as may the mortgage-finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac “because of course the government-supported enterprises use swaps for risk management purposes,” Gensler said.

It looks like Chairman Frank may need to re-educate himself on the use of derivatives and go back to the drawing board on this proposal.

barney frank


About Wheelhouse Advisors
Wheelhouse Advisors LLC is the publisher of The ERM Current™, an online publication and blog dedicated to providing the latest updates on current trends in Enterprise Risk Management & Control. Wheelhouse Advisors provides cost-effective Enterprise Risk Management & Control solutions to both large and mid-size corporations. To learn more about Wheelhouse Advisors, please visit our web site at

6 Responses to Back to the Drawing Board on Derivatives Regulation

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