Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Turf wars between the SEC and the CFTC have existed since the latter agency's creation and have only intensified over the years with the proliferation of complex products. Today the agencies announced what the press release describes as a "ground-breaking mutual cooperation agreement" to establish a closer working relationship between their agencies. The agreement establishes a permanent regulatory liaison between the agencies, provides for enhanced information sharing, and sets forth several key principles guiding their consideration of novel financial products that may reflect elements of both securities and commodity futures or options.
The agencies also announced their plans to consider two new derivative products under the agreement and issued notices requesting public comment on two new products. Both products would be based on the streetTracks ® Gold Trust Shares (Gold Shares). One product is an option that would be traded on options exchanges, and the other is a future that would trade on a single stock futures exchange. The requests for comment will be published in the Federal Register shortly.
In addition, the Options Clearing Corporation, which is subject to the joint jurisdiction of the agencies in certain areas, recently filed with both the SEC and the CFTC for approval to clear and settle both of the new products. Both agencies expect to act on these filings expeditiously and issue notices for public comment in the near future.
The two new products have raised questions about how they best should be regulated under federal law. Other recent products, such as credit default options, have raised similar questions. The Memorandum of Understanding addresses how the agencies will approach products that raise these issues in this burgeoning area of financial innovation. It also establishes a framework that will facilitate discussions and coordination regarding issues in other areas of common regulatory interest between the two agencies, such as portfolio margining, foreign security index products, and the oversight of firms registered with both agencies.