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CFTC Requesting Comment on Effort To Collect Data on Swaps Transactions

Friday, March 21, 2014
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By Richard Hill

March 19 --The Commodity Futures Trading Commission said March 19 it is requesting public comment on its year-plus effort to collect data on swaps trading, saying it is seeking to improve the quality of the information it receives.

In a statement, the agency said the request, to be published shortly in the Federal Register, consists of approximately 70 questions about topics such as the reporting of primary economic terms, confirmation and continuation data; the manner in which reporting addresses different transaction types and business models; the reporting of cleared swaps; and data harmonization.

The request is the outgrowth of an interdivisional staff group appointed in January to review swaps data recordkeeping and reporting requirements and to make recommendations on how the rules and processes can be improved. The comment period will be open for 60 days after publication. According to the commission, staff will make recommendations based on the comments by the end of July.

Recurring Issues
In related March 19 developments, Acting CFTC Chairman Mark Wetjen told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Capital Markets summit that more than a year after the agency began collecting swaps data, “we continue to see recurring issues.” The data, he amplified, “hasn't been clean enough for us to make sense of.”

He later told reporters at the event that some of the issues include different swap data repositories using different “data fields” when submitting information. He added that there are “some issues regarding the choice about where the data gets sent to.”

“We're just not seeing the full picture of what's happening” in the marketplace, Wetjen said. “My concern is mostly focused on, is there something about our rule set that is creating these issues? If that's the case, we need to address that.”

In his remarks at the Chamber summit, Wetjen said, “We're prepared to make corrections if we need to. Compliance with our rules has been a challenge.”

Problems in October
Former CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler said as far back as October that the agency was having growing pains in its data collection process, which began on Dec. 31, 2012. He told reporters at the time that while CFTC staff can see details on each of the transactions and positions in the $400 trillion swaps marketplace, the agency was challenged by a dearth of staff to sift through the information, and a lack of standardization of the format used by swap dealers to submit information (212 SLD, 11/1/13).

Commissioner Scott O'Malia also has been a critic of the CFTC's data collection regime. In a March 19 statement, he said he supported the request for comment, which he called “a critical step in the commission's effort to improve data utilization.'' O'Malia also asked commenters to alert the CFTC to data collection issues that were not highlighted in the request.

To contact the reporter on this story: Richard Hill in Washington at rhill@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phyllis Diamond at pdiamond@bna.com


The request for comment can be seen at http://www.cftc.gov/PressRoom/PressReleases/federalregister031914.

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