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

Recap of first CFTC hearing into speculation

Commodify Me! has been busy with the daily grind of life and would like to apologise for not posting this sooner.

Anyway, as we all know, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission held the first of its three hearings last week looking at ways to curb excessive speculation in oil, gas and other engery markets.

The New York Times provides a nice summary of the first day’s proceedings:

The country’s top regulator of commodity markets said Tuesday that the government should “seriously consider” strict limits on the trades of purely financial investors in the futures markets for oil, natural gas and other energy products.  READ HERE.

And CNNMoney.com provides a summary of day two:

Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler sounded even more convinced Wednesday that trading limits must be imposed on speculative energy traders, and he found support from two of the biggest financial players in commodities markets.”No longer must we debate the issue of whether or not to set position limits,” Gensler said during the second day of CFTC hearings on excessive speculation in the energy markets. He added that the only remaining questions are how to go about it. READ MORE.

CNNMoney.com also has comments from big commodity players, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, both of who had representatives speak at the hearings:

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) came out in favor of position limits both on and off exchanges in a hearing before the Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Wednesday.But the bank wants exemptions maintained for swap dealers that help commodity end users buy and sell derivatives to reduce their exposure to price fluctuations. JPMorgan’s views closely matched those of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), which also had a representative at the hearing. READ MORE.

You might also like to read the Seattle Times and the Houston Chronicle.

Bernstein: CFTC’s plans won’t stop wild speculation

Richard Bernstein, the former Chief Investment Strategist and Head of the Investment Strategy Group at Merrill Lynch and CEO of Richard Bernstein Capital Management, believes plans by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to regulate speculation on the exchange won’t work because it will merely push speculators to the non-regulated over-the-counter markets.

Bernstein also argues that it was hedge funds, not “textbook” speculators, and excessive lending from banks helped fuel the speculative bubble in the oil market in 2007/08.

I loudly applaud the CFTC’s efforts to tighten commodity trading regulations, but I think that Washington still doesn’t fully understand the root cause of today’s speculative commodity and financial markets. 

It’s not about position limits.  It’s about credit flowing to financial speculation instead of toward productive use. READ HERE

Commodify Me! would also like to point out that there is an article in Time Magazine that is closely related to this: Why There Should Be More Oil Speculation, Not Less.