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RELEASE: CFTC Proposes to Gut the Real-time Public Trade Reporting Requirements, Plunging the Markets into Darkness but Giving Wall Street Dealers Flashlights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 20, 2020
Contact: 202-618-6433, press@bettermarkets.com

Washington, D.C.  –  Dennis M. Kelleher, President and CEO of Better Markets, issued the following statement regarding the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) proposed rule permitting significant delays in public reporting of derivatives trades:

“Earlier today, the CFTC proposed substantial revisions to public trade reporting rules for derivatives.  The most controversial element of that proposal would substantially change whether and when the largest derivatives transactions, conducted primarily by Wall Street’s five largest dealer banks, are required to be publicly reported. 

“The CFTC’s proposal essentially guts the real-time public trade reporting requirement for a significant number of trades by extending the current permitted delay from 15 minutes to 48 hours or an increase of more than 19,000%.  That is a baseless and indefensibly long period of time.   In effect, the CFTC’s proposed change would provide the biggest, most active dealers — accounting for almost 90% of the U.S. swaps markets — a 48-hour head start for trading across all swaps markets.  That would plunge the largest derivatives trades into darkness, except for those five dealers, who would virtually exclusively know the trade information before anyone else.

“Such a change would hand those Wall Street dealers an enormous informational, trading and competitive advantage, which for years they have been lobbying for.  It would turn what is now mostly transparent public markets into dark markets where only the biggest dealers have flashlights.  Delaying public reporting will make it easier for those select few derivatives traders to boost profits and bonuses by picking off other less informed traders.  However, that money will come out of the pockets of everyone else in the markets and, ultimately, investors and consumers.

“The claim is that a 48-hour delay benefits customers and is needed to hedge customer trades.  However, that is an unsupported pretext and the change will mostly benefit the dealers, often at the expense of their customers.  Many swaps markets, like the interest rate markets, are amenable to hedging within minutes, even for the largest transactions.  Other swaps markets have different liquidity characteristics, but almost all of them can generally be hedged within an hour or so and, in any event, in much shorter periods of time than 48 hours.  The CFTC should tailor and target any trade reporting delay solely based on extensive data demonstrating a specific need in a particular market.”

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Better Markets is a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization founded in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to promote the public interest in the financial markets, support the financial reform of Wall Street and make our financial system work for all Americans again. Better Markets works with allies – including many in finance – to promote pro-market, pro-business and pro-growth policies that help build a stronger, safer financial system that protects and promotes Americans’ jobs, savings, retirements and more. To learn more, visit www.bettermarkets.com.

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