Tag Archives: OTC trading

Gloves Come Off at SEFCON V

The era of good feelings definitely is over for the over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives market judging by the tone of the conversations at yesterday’s SEFCON V.

“It’s to be expected,” said  a beaming Chris Ferreri, chairman of the Wholesale Brokers’ Association Americas (WBAA) and who hosted the event. “Last year, we all were trying to accomplish the same thing. But with ‘made available to trade’ in place, we are all competitors now. Isn’t great?”

The zingers flew wild and free during the conference’s first panel on what the industry has learned over the first year of swap execution facility (SEF) trading.

Representatives from Bloomberg, Credit Suisse, the DTCC’s Data Repository, Thomson Reuters,  tpSEF and UBS shared some rather candid thoughts and information during the verbal free for all.

Although the UBS offers a SEF aggregation service, it currently does not connect to Bloomberg SEF or tpSEF.

And when it comes to differentiating the SEFs that have sizable liquidity, it is all about the bells and whistles that they offer, according to Bloomberg’s Nathan Jenner and Thomson Reuters’ Jodi Burns.

However, the SEF operators might want to cool their technology pitch to swap dealers and institutional investors, suggested PIMCO’s Ric Okun, who spoke on a later SEF-technology panel.

The rest of the day’s discussions addressed the future of cleared foreign-exchange (FX) non-deliverable forwards (NDFs) and the benefits and shortcomings of central limit order book (CLOB) versus request for quote (RFQ) execution.

When an audience member asked Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman Timothy Massad whether the regulator developed a sense when NDFs would be available to trade, Massad stated that the CFTC “has not taken a view on it yet.”

Whether it will be before 2017, when the EU’s rules should go into effect, no one knows.

At least the one panel, which consisted of representatives from BGC Derivatives Markets, Bloomberg, Squire Patton Boggs and London-headquartered Wholesale Broker Market Association (WMBA), came to a consensus that NDFs probably will clear like US dollars and euros. They bandied about an 80-20 ratio, but could not agree on which currency represented which percentage.

The most heated conversations, unsurprisingly, related to CLOB and RFQ execution models. It definitely is the Mac versus PC and open-sourced software versus licensed software debate for the industry.

Supporters of RFQ won the day in terms of their loudness and liquidity, but consider the membership of the WBMAA.

CLOB supporters were optimistic that liquidity on their systems would pick up when interest rate volatility and its related volume returns to the market.

They also believed that as swaps dealers widen their RFQ spreads due to regulatory capital restraints, that it may drive investors to the CLOB platforms.

It is not clear if there will be a SEFCON VI, but the OTC industry still has a lot to do in terms of data consistency and quality, according to the DTCC.

A standardized instrument symbology across all SEFs would be a good place to start, suggested KCG’s Isaac Chang.

 

 

Kevinonthestreet: FX Futures Volume Set to Rise

It’s only a matter of time before more investors move away from foreign-exchange (FX) swaps to FX futures, according to the latest research from Kevin McPartland, head of market structure and technology advisory service at analyst firm Greenwich and friend of the blog.

He attributes the coming migration due FX swap’s higher regulatory and margin costs, even though regulators exempted them from many swap requirements, and the lack of need by financial users for custom FX swap products compared to their corporate counterparts.

Check out his blog for more opinions and analysis on the OTC derivatives marketplace.

 

 

SEF Volumes Likely to Ramp Up in Early 2014

Javelin SEF is the first swaps execution facility (SEF) operator to submit a list of potential instruments that the electronic trading platform would like to “make available to trade” to the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Bloomberg’s Silla Brush reported on October 19.

Greenwich Associates’ Kevin McPartland, who is quoted in the story, offers expanded analysis in a blog post of his own.

It’s not surprising that an all-electronic operation like Javelin was the first to break the surface tension with such a broad instrument list since it has no interest of keeping these transaction voice-based.

The CFTC has 90 days to decide whether to approve or reject Javelin SEF’s list. If it does not extend its decision deadline, traders will be required to execute trades for dollar-, sterling- and euro-denominated interest rate swaps on SEFs starting in mid-January 2014.

The regulator also started the clock ticking on a 30-day industry comment period for the SEF’s list that began on the filing date and, hopefully, will provide interesting opinions.

CFTC Heats Up SEF Approvals

I’ve spent far more time today updating The SEF Scorecard than I originally intended. Little did I know that HTML and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are twin works of Satan, but more on that later.

Bloomberg started the summer as the first SEF operator to receive temporary registration from the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), but now the field is starting to get crowded. GFI Group,  MarketAxessState StreetTradeweb, each  received temporary approval from the CFTC recently. This leaves the 10 remaining SEF operators cooling their jets while they wait for their regulatory approval.

 

 

SEFs Pending HFT Pains

Okay, this post’s title is a little misleading. I doubt that any trader would to apply the standard high-frequency trading strategy, which constantly pennies orders throughout the day but does not leave any open positions at the end of the day, when it comes to over-the-counter (OTC) swaps trading.

What has garnered my attention is the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) trade reporting embargo rule that prevents swaps execution facilities (SEFs) from sharing recently executed trade details with other SEF participants before the SEF’s system releases the trade details to a swaps data repository (SDR).

Such a set up is going to lead to an unholy mess once dealers and non-dealers begin trading on SEFs. It is going to lead to a replay of flash-order headache that happened in the equities market a few years ago.

Yes, I know that the two markets aren’t carbon copies of each other. However, this embargo market data embargo will create a bifurcated market data model consisting of participants taking their feed directly from the SEF and those who will rely on data aggregator or SDR feeds.

According to a few well-placed industry sources, they expect SDRs to operate at the same pace as FINRA’s TRACE reporting platform. That might be fine for manual voice trading, but not when SEF matching engines run at millisecond speeds.

I can see both sides of the argument. Given the very illiquid nature of the OTC swaps market, flashing prices of recent trades helps provide additional liquidity. Yet, to take advantage of it, a market participant will need a direct link to the SEF. That’s an expensive proposition as more and more SEF operators come out of the woodwork.

Large dealers may be able to take on those additional market data costs given the large trade volumes they execute, non-dealers likely will balk at the situation.

In the equities market, all of the exchanges decided to retire their flash orders before the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) needed to make an official ruling on the order type. I do not think the CFTC will have the same luxury.