Tag: Liquidity


A Reassessment of the Clearing Mandate

Ilya Beylin is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar at Columbia Law School and the Editor-at-Large of the CLS Blue Sky Blog. This post is based on an article authored by Mr. Beylin.

Following the financial crisis, the G-20 nations committed to a raft of reforms for swap markets. These reforms are intended to mitigate systemic risk, and with it, the damage that failing financial institutions inflict on the financial sector and the broader economy. A core component of the reforms is the introduction of the “clearing mandate” for standardized swaps.

Clearing refers to the interposition of a clearinghouse, or central counterparty, between the two parties to a financial transaction. When a swap is cleared, the initial swap is extinguished and two new swaps are created in its place. The first is an identical swap between the first counterparty and the clearinghouse, and the second is another identical swap between the clearinghouse and the second counterparty. In this manner, absent default, parties make payments as they would if they had transacted bilaterally and the clearinghouse simply passes the payments between counterparties. However, when one of the counterparties to a transaction defaults, the presence of the clearinghouse as an intermediate counterparty shields the non-defaulting party from losses; that is because although the defaulting party may not pay the clearinghouse, the clearinghouse is still liable for, and makes, the payment to the remaining counterparty.

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Prices and Informed Trading

Vyacheslav Fos is Assistant Professor of Finance at Boston College. This post is based on an article by Professor Fos and Pierre Collin-Dufresne, Professor of Finance at the Swiss Finance Institute. Related research from the Program on Corporate Governance includes Pre-Disclosure Accumulations by Activist Investors: Evidence and Policy by Lucian Bebchuk, Alon Brav, Robert J. Jackson Jr., and Wei Jiang; and The Law and Economics of Blockholder Disclosure by Lucian Bebchuk and Robert J. Jackson Jr. (discussed on the Forum here).

In our paper, Do Prices Reveal the Presence of Informed Trading?, forthcoming in the Journal of Finance, we study how empirical measures of stock illiquidity and of adverse selection respond to informed trading by activist shareholders.

An extensive body of theory suggests that stock illiquidity, as measured by the bid-ask spread and by the price impact of trades, should be increasing in the information asymmetry between market participants. An extensive empirical literature employing these illiquidity measures thus assumes that they capture information asymmetry. But, do these empirical measures of adverse selection actually increase with information asymmetry? To test this question one would ideally separate informed from uninformed trades ex-ante and measure their relative impact on price changes. However, since we generally do not know the traders’ information sets, this is hard to do in practice.

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Revisiting the Regulatory Framework of the US Treasury Market

Luis A. Aguilar is a Commissioner at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. This post is based on Commissioner Aguilar’s recent public statement; the full text, including footnotes, is available here. The views expressed in the post are those of Commissioner Aguilar and do not necessarily reflect those of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the other Commissioners, or the Staff.

Yesterday [July 13, 2015], staff members of the federal agencies that comprise the Interagency Working Group for Treasury Market Surveillance (“Working Group”) issued a joint report concerning the so-called “flash crash” that occurred in the U.S. Treasury market on October 15, 2014 (the “Report”). I commend the staff of all the agencies for their hard work in putting together the Report, which examined the events of that day and the broader forces that have changed the Treasury market in recent years. This was a difficult undertaking, but the report does an excellent job of discussing the known factors, while acknowledging that more work needs to be done.

The remarkable events of that day, which cannot yet be fully explained, have dispelled any lingering notion that the Treasury market is the staid marketplace it was once thought to be. The transformative changes that swept through the equities and options markets in the past decade have vastly reshaped the landscape of the Treasury market, as well. As a result, the structure, participants, and technological underpinnings of today’s Treasury market are far different than they were just a few years ago.

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Money Market Mutual Funds: Stress Testing & New Regulatory Requirements

Jeremy Berkowitz is Vice President in NERA’s Global Securities and Finance Practice. This post is based on a NERA publication authored by Dr. Berkowitz, Patrick E. Conroy, and Jordan Milev.

In July 2014, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted a package of reforms to the regulatory framework governing money market mutual funds. The SEC believes the new rules will enhance the safety and soundness of the money market fund industry during periods of market distress, when redemptions in some funds may increase substantially. [1]

The new rules require institutional prime (general purpose) and institutional municipal money market mutual funds to price and transact at a “floating” net asset value (NAV), permit certain money market mutual funds to charge liquidity fees, and allow the use of redemption gates to temporarily halt withdrawals during periods of stress.
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Basel III Liquidity Framework: Final Net Stable Funding Ratio Disclosure Standards

Andrew R. Gladin is a partner in the Financial Services and Corporate and Finance Groups at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. This post is based on a Sullivan & Cromwell publication authored by Mr. Gladin, Mark J. Welshimer, Andrea R. Tokheim, and Christopher F. Nenno.

Last week, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (the “Basel Committee”) published final standards (the “Final Disclosure Standards”) for the disclosure of information relating to banks’ net stable funding ratio (the “NSFR”) calculations. [1] The Final Disclosure Standards were adopted substantially as proposed in December 2014. [2]

The NSFR, which the Basel Committee adopted in final form in October 2014, [3] is one of the key standards, along with the liquidity coverage ratio (the “LCR”), [4] introduced by the Basel Committee to strengthen liquidity risk management as part of the Basel III framework. The NSFR is designed to promote more medium- and long-term funding of the assets and activities of banks over a one-year time horizon. The Final Disclosure Standards, in turn, are part of the broader so-called Pillar 3 disclosure regime (along with disclosure requirements in capital rules as well as the LCR-related disclosure framework) and are designed to “improve the transparency of regulatory funding …, enhance market discipline, and reduce uncertainty in the markets as the NSFR is implemented.” [5]

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Fed Proposes Amended Bank Liquidity Rules

Andrew R. Gladin is a partner in the Financial Services and Corporate and Finance Groups at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. This post is based on a Sullivan & Cromwell publication authored by Mr. Gladin, Samuel R. Woodall III, Andrea R. Tokheim, and Lauren A. Wansor.

On Thursday, May 21, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the “Federal Reserve”) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (the “Proposal”) that would amend the final rule implementing a liquidity coverage ratio (“LCR”) requirement (the “Final LCR Rule”), [1] jointly adopted last September by the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”), and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”), to treat certain general obligation state and municipal bonds as high-quality liquid assets (“HQLA”). [2] Unlike the Final Rule, the OCC and FDIC did not join the Federal Reserve in issuing the Proposal. Accordingly, the Proposal would apply only to banking institutions regulated by the Federal Reserve that are subject to the LCR, absent further action by the other agencies. [3] The Proposal would allow these entities to treat general obligation securities of a public sector entity (“PSE”) as level 2B liquid assets, provided that the securities generally satisfy the same criteria as corporate debt securities that are classified as level 2B liquid assets, as well as certain other restrictions and limitations applicable only to these assets as described further below. Comments on the Proposal are due by July 24, 2015.

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Making Our Equity Markets Work Better for Investors

Luis A. Aguilar is a Commissioner at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. This post is based on Commissioner Aguilar’s recent public statement; the full text, including footnotes, is available here. The views expressed in the post are those of Commissioner Aguilar and do not necessarily reflect those of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the other Commissioners, or the Staff.

It is well known that the Commission needs to undertake a holistic review of our current equity market structure. In fact, the Commission has formed an advisory committee to assist that review. In furtherance of that process, the following is intended to focus on certain issues that any serious review should consider—such as the various issues that have arisen from our markets’ increasingly fragmented structure, including market quality, and various market participants’ responses to the intensified competition for order flow.

In areas where there appears to be a compelling need for action—and where the benefits of a particular course of action are clear—there is a call for action. In areas where there may be a need for action, but where the best course is not readily apparent, recommendations will be made as to areas that require further study, including empirical research. Finally, in areas where there is no convincing evidence that change is warranted, or where it may appear that suggested reforms might even worsen matters, caution will be urged

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Remarks at the 4th Annual Fixed Income Conference

Michael S. Piwowar is a Commissioner at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. This post is based on Commissioner Piwowar’s recent remarks at the University of South Carolina and UNC-Charlotte 4th Annual Fixed Income Conference, available here. The views expressed in the post are those of Commissioner Piwowar and do not necessarily reflect those of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the other Commissioners, or the Staff.

This conference is one stop on a bit of a tour I have been on lately, speaking with academics around the country. In each of those conferences, meetings, and other events I have been encouraging increased dialogue between academic researchers and the SEC. Just last month, I spoke to a group of equity market microstructure researchers at the University of Notre Dame, with a message similar to what I intend to share with you today [April 21, 2015]. [1] That message is simple: your work is vital to helping the SEC accomplish its core mission to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation.

Given the talent and collective focus of the people in this room, I do not need to recite statistics about the size of the fixed income markets, the degree to which issuers rely on bonds for debt financing, or the pervasiveness of fixed income products from the largest institutional investor portfolios to the smallest retail investor accounts. Suffice it to say that well-functioning fixed income markets are a concern of nearly all participants in our securities markets.

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The Need for Greater Secondary Market Liquidity for Small Businesses

Luis A. Aguilar is a Commissioner at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. This post is based on Commissioner Aguilar’s public statement at a recent meeting of the SEC Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies; the full text, including footnotes, is available here. The views expressed in the post are those of Commissioner Aguilar and do not necessarily reflect those of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the other Commissioners, or the Staff.

I am delighted to see that today’s [March 4, 2015] meeting will discuss the secondary trading environment for the securities of small businesses. The lack of a fair, liquid, and transparent secondary market for these securities is a longstanding problem that needs an effective solution. Indeed, I’ve spoken publicly about this very issue on a number of occasions, most recently less than two weeks ago at the annual SEC Speaks conference. This topic is increasingly urgent in light of certain new, or anticipated, Commission rules required by the JOBS Act that would result in a far wider range of small business securities needing to find liquidity in the secondary markets. Specifically, proposed rules under Regulation A-plus and Crowdfunding, and final rules under Rule 506(c) of Regulation D, would permit wide distributions of securities and also allow such securities to be freely-traded by security holders immediately upon issuance, or after a one-year holding period. These registration exemptions also provide—or are expected to provide—for lesser on-going reporting requirements than is required for listed securities.

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Making the Municipal Securities Market More Transparent, Liquid, and Fair

Luis A. Aguilar is a Commissioner at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. This post is based on Commissioner Aguilar’s recent public statement; the full text, including footnotes, is available here. The views expressed in the post are those of Commissioner Aguilar and do not necessarily reflect those of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the other Commissioners, or the Staff.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of the municipal securities market. There is perhaps no other market that so profoundly influences the quality of our daily lives. Municipal securities provide financing to build and maintain schools, hospitals, and utilities, as well as the roads and other basic infrastructure that enable our economy to flourish. Municipal bonds’ tax-free status also makes them an important investment vehicle for individual investors, particularly retirees. Ensuring the existence of a vibrant and efficient municipal bond market is essential, particularly at a time when state and local government budgets remain stretched.

Unfortunately, despite its size and importance, the municipal securities market has been subjected to a far lesser degree of regulation and transparency than other segments of the U.S. capital markets. In fact, investors in municipal securities are afforded “second-class treatment” under current law in many ways. This has allowed market participants to cling to outdated notions about how the municipal securities market should operate. The result is a market that, in the view of many, is excessively opaque, illiquid, and decentralized.

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