Let’s start the year off on an optimistic note…. Here’s to hoping that 2014 is the year that a bipartisan Congress fixes a number of flaws in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act.
As we’ve talked about before, Manufacturers, as derivatives end-users, have been working over the past several years to prevent the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act from having a negative and costly impact on companies that use derivatives to manage risk. On issues like margin requirements, inter-affiliate trades and the use of centralized treasury units, the NAM has fought against new regulations that will create new costs and burdens on manufacturers who utilize derivatives to mitigate commercial risk and not for speculative purposes. The rationale is simple, manufacturers did not contribute to or cause the financial crisis that triggered Dodd-Frank, and as several regulators have stated before Congress, do not pose a systemic risk. Thus, regulators’ efforts should be focused elsewhere.
So far we’ve made some headway… Bipartisan bills (H.R. 634/S.888) moving through Congress would exempt end-users from margin requirements. In fact, H.R. 634, led by Reps. Grimm (R-NY) and Peters (D-MI) passed the House with a huge bipartisan vote last June with only 12… yes, 12 votes in opposition. The Senate companion bill (S.888) has 18 cosponsors from both sides of the aisle and two strong champions in the bipartisan team that is leading the effort – Sens. Johanns (R-NE) and Tester (D-MT). And that’s not all. H.R. 677, the Inter-Affiliate Swap Clarification Act by Reps. Stivers (R-OH) and Fudge (D-OH) was approved by the House Financial Services Committee also with broad bipartisan support.
Earlier this week, Rep. Hudson (R-NC) introduced legislation addressing another problem we have talked about before, the looming change in CFTC’s criteria for companies to register as a swap dealer. The bill, H.R. 3814, would require that the CFTC take an affirmative action to change today’s de minimis level of $8 billion. Without action, the CFTC’s rules currently lower the threshold to $3 billion by 2018. It seems odd to us that the CFTC has seen fit to set a de minimis level at a reasonable level and while doing so then set into motion an automatic drop in the level by over 60% several years in advance. One would think that regulators would prefer to establish the threshold and then go back and reconsider what the appropriate level will be in the economy of some future year. The bill by Rep. Hudson, like the other ones referenced above, is straightforward and a common sense solution to problems arising from the enactment of the massive Act known as Dodd-Frank.
Manufacturers continue to work to encourage members of both parties in both the House and Senate to move these bills in a timely manner.