New rules to regulate derivatives, adopted last week by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, are a victory for Wall Street and a setback for financial reform. They may also signal worse things to come.
The regulations, required under the Dodd-Frank reform law, are intended to impose transparency and competition on the notoriously opaque multitrillion-dollar market for derivatives, which is dominated by five banks: JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley.
In the run-up to the financial crisis — and since — the lack of transparency and competition has fostered recklessness and instability. But banks like opacity, because their outsized profits depend on keeping clients in the dark about what other clients pay in similar deals. Under the Dodd-Frank law, derivatives are supposed to be traded on “swap execution facilities,” which are to operate much like the exchanges that exist for equities and futures.