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EU agrees rules to tame derivatives market
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Reuters

Reuters, February 9, 2012
Posted: March 20th, 2012

European Union diplomats and the European Parliament agreed ... to overhaul regulation of the roughly $700 trillion derivatives market, a move that will make it easier to control one of the most opaque areas of finance. Under new EU laws, banks, hedge funds and other buyers and sellers of derivatives will be encouraged to move away from the unregulated 'over-the-counter' market, which accounts for almost 95 percent of all trades. In the past, it has been common for multi-million-euro contracts to be recorded by no more than a fax, with only the parties involved aware of the details. This will change under the new law, which would standardise most trading so it happens on open exchanges. Settlement of such deals will be cleared centrally, making them easier to monitor. Those that do not shift to exchanges or a central counterparty such as LCH Clearnet in London, which acts as an intermediary between buyer and seller, will face higher capital charges to reflect the extra risk. Crucially, the new rules mean that all deals must be recorded, whether conducted on or off an exchange. Supervisors hope that will make it easier to monitor the market and intervene, if necessary, to avoid a repeat of the chaos surrounding the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers, where it proved difficult to assess exposure to derivatives. By forcing increased transparency, the rules are likely to challenge the half a dozen or so large banks that dominate the market now.

Note: For key reports on the grave risks posed by the unregulated derivatives market, click here.

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