Increased energy market supervision; CFTC regulation

There is an interesting story by Reuters about how the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the U.K’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) have announced they will closely moniter energy markets.

The story also details some of the CFTC’s plans to tighten commodity trading rules, including position limits in U.S. futures markets and sujecting more  over-the-counter derivatives subject to mandatory clearing.

Under the proposal, the  CFCT and FSA will:

  • increase information sharing and cooperation in surveillance of oil markets
  • enhance direct access rights to trade execution and audit trail data
  • share exchange regulations and disciplinary notices.

The story includes comment from CFTC chairman Gary Gensler:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. and U.K. regulators moved on Thursday to increase supervision of energy markets while Washington also detailed new initiatives to tighten the rules in commodities trading.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the U.K. Financial Services Authority announced the steps, which include closer auditing and mutual on-site visits of exchange operators, to gain a better view of trading in U.S. oil futures on the IntercontinentalExchange’s (ICE.N) London exchange. READ MORE

Learsy questions banks over role in oil speculation

Raymond J. Learsy, scholar and author of the Over a Barrel: Breaking Oil’s Grip on Our Future, has written an interesting piece in the Huffington Post that’s worth a read.

In his piece, Learsy looks at how investment banks turned bank holding companies like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs have used the Tarp fund and other taxpayer bailout money from the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank and Treasury to speculate heavily in oil markets instead of lending to businesses and financing mortgages, which the money was intended for:

Here we go again. The same Financial Class that brought us to the edge of economic meltdown is now pressing its well connected pals and cronies on Wall Street, in Congress as well as its allies in the press and our OPEC cheering oil industry, to lay hands off the continued stripping America’s wealth through the gamed racket and egregiously profitable world of oil futures trading.

This week the Commodity Futures Exchange Commission (CFTC), responding to a national and international outcry that enough is enough, and in keeping with the Obama administration’s goal of tougher oversight, has finally decided to act. Reacting to Congressional pressures, a struggling industrial landscape and a beleaguered public, the CFTC announced that a series of restrictions on energy trading would be set forth. And here the CFTC and the American public’s outrage is not alone. Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal printed an Op-ed Essay (July 8,2009) jointly written by Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Great Britain and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France calling for “transparency and supervision of the oil futures market in order to reduce damaging speculation” (The WSJ, signaling its take on the issue placed the piece at the bottom of its pg.15 Opinion column). READ HERE.