Senate committee to take up bill on CFTC

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 11, 2016 6:34 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Senate committee will soon consider legislation on the country's commodities and derivatives regulator that is intended to keep financial-sector restrictions in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law from applying to farmers and ranchers because their derivatives trading helps them manage operational risks.

On Thursday, the Agriculture Committee will mark up legislation reauthorizing the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which oversees the $400 trillion U.S. swaps market as well as trading in agriculture, metals and energy.

Republicans, who are the majority in Congress and lead the committee, unveiled the bill late on Monday. A congressional source familiar with the legislation said lawmakers were open to negotiation and the bill could change before Thursday.

The central aim of the Senate committee's bill is to allow farmers, ranchers and energy providers to hedge their operational risks with derivatives, while maintaining regulation of financial swaps trading. The source said it was not an attempt to affect position limits that the CFTC sets on contracts or options.

The 2010 Dodd-Frank law strengthened oversight of swaps in order to prevent a repeat of the risky bets that contributed to the financial crisis. Republicans have said that rules the CFTC put in place to carry out the law have spread regulation into areas outside of finance, which Congress did not intend.

Nonetheless, the Senate bill would address some financial elements such as requiring electronic confirmation of customers' account balances at banks and preventing firms from moving funds among accounts without notifying regulators.

It would also strengthen protection for proprietary information submitted to the CFTC as part of required disclosures and create a judicial review process for the commission's rulemaking.

The bill unveiled on Monday would also require the commission to review and take action on the London Metal Exchange’s application to register as a foreign board of trade.

The CFTC has had to operate on year-by-year funding since the end of 2013 because Congress has not passed a new authorization for it. Lawmakers say this has created uncertainty in many markets.

The House of Representatives passed its version of the CFTC authorization in June. Parts of that legislation that stirred controversy, such as a cost-benefit analysis requirement, were not included in this bill.

(Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Leslie Adler)