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SPEECHES & TESTIMONY

  • Concurring Statement Relating to the Commission’s Proposal on Position Reports for Physical Commodity Swaps and Swaptions

    Commissioner Jill E. Sommers

    October 19, 2010

    I support this proposal to receive daily position reports for physical commodity swaps and swaptions because I believe it furthers our continued effort to expand transparency into swap markets and because I believe it is critical that the Commission receive this information as soon as possible. I recognize that this proposal is a precursor to the Commission moving forward with a proposal on the imposition of position limits. That said, my vote in support of this proposal today should not in any way be interpreted as expressing support for moving forward with the imposition of position limits by the deadlines set forth in Dodd-Frank.

    In July and August 2009, the Commission held three public hearings to discuss imposition of position limits in energy markets. Five months later, in January 2010, the Commission issued a proposed rule imposing position limits in four enumerated energy contracts. I had grave concerns about moving forward with position limits on those four contracts, and accordingly voted against the proposal. My grave concerns about moving forward with position limits have not been eased, and in fact, have only been heighted by certain provisions of Dodd-Frank.

    Section 737 of Dodd-Frank states that the Commission shall by rule, regulation, or order establish limits on the amount of positions, as appropriate, that may be held by any person. This section requires the limits to be aggregated across markets and related products and to be imposed within 180 days for energy and metals contracts, and 270 days for agricultural contracts.

    In my view, no position limit is appropriate if it is imposed without the benefit of receiving and fully analyzing complete data concerning the open interest in each market. Only then is the Commission able to properly consider the size of each market and calibrate a limit that is appropriate for each market. Currently, the Commission does not have complete data and will not have complete data until swap data repositories are up and running and all swap market data is reported to swap data repositories or to the Commission. I believe that, optimistically, the earliest this reporting can happen will be by the end of 2011. Again that is an optimistic estimate.

    Because of the 180 and 270 day requirements in Dodd-Frank, as we sit here today, the Commission is tentatively planning a November 30 public meeting to vote on proposed speculative position limits for exempt and agricultural commodities. Mind you, by November 30 the Commission will not have garnered any data from the proposed rule we are discussing today, because it, or some modified version of it, probably will not be effective in final form by November 30. In addition, by November 30, swap data repositories will still be at least one year away from operating. Even if the proposed rule we are discussing today were effective by November 30, it will not provide complete information sufficient to impose position limits.

    Under these circumstances, when considering the imposition of aggregate position limits on exempt and agricultural commodities, I believe the Commission should find that imposing such limits is not appropriate in the absence of full and complete data and analysis on the open interest in each market. I believe it is a mistake to interpret the arbitrary 180 day and 270 day deadlines as somehow trumping the requirement that the Commission make an appropriateness determination before imposing any position limits.

    This is an issue that I will be following closely, and I look forward to hearing the views of the public and market participants on this issue.

    Last Updated: October 19, 2010



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