NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Derivatives reform was one of the most important tenets of the giant new financial services reform legislation known as Dodd-Frank, and regulators are holding a hearing Friday to dig into the more contentious issues.
The Dodd-Frank bill will move portions of a multitrillion dollar market for instruments known as swaps--which are a kind of derivative--onto exchanges. Transactions will also have to go through clearinghouses. Among the effects of these changes is making sure all parties to a trade have posted sufficient collateral to ensure they will be able to make good on the trades. AIG (AIG - Get Report) one of the largest private recipients of government bailout money, ran into trouble in part because it could not meet obligations arising from swaps trades it entered into Goldman Sachs (GS - Get Report), Societe Generale (GLE)and several other institutions.
Among the questions raised by reform is which products will go onto exchanges and through clearinghouses, which exchanges and clearinghouses will handle them, and how can this process be made as fair and open as possible?
One of the concerns raised by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) as the legislation was still being debated was that banks such as Goldman, JPMorgan Chase (JPM - Get Report)and Bank of America (BAC - Get Report)would end up exerting monopolistic control over the clearinghouses. Lynch offered an amendment that would have limited the ownership stake banks were allowed to have in clearinghouses to under 20%. That amendment passed in the House and was stripped out after negotiations with the Senate. Part of the compromise was that regulators would examine some of the issues--proving a big part of the rationale for Friday's meeting.Goldman announced it was launching a new derivatives clearing business last month, and Bank of America analyst Guy Moszkowski cited it in a recent report as an important opportunity arising from the Dodd-Frank legislation. Goldman has been investing heavily in technology and will clear derivatives in interest rate, foreign exchange, equity and commodity-linked products, according to the report. "Management believes that thinner spreads resulting from clearing and exchange trading will be offset by a surge in volumes, as has historically been the case where trading costs have declined sharply because of 'digitization' or other changes," Moszkowski wrote. -- Written by Dan Freed in New York.