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It’s been a busy Christmas and New Year’s season for US regulators. After three years of work, the Federal Reserve Board announced in mid-December that five federal agencies have issued final rules to implement section 619 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Volcker Rule”), which is intended to limit proprietary trading by banks. But their job was hardly done.

US regulators came back to work after the holiday to find that portions of the final version of the Volcker Rule have been challenged in a lawsuit over claims that requiring small banks to divest their holdings in certain collateralized debt obligations known as trust-preferred securities or TruPs C.D.O.s will cause 275 small banks about $600 million in losses and impact their ability to lend to consumers and businesses.

The American Bankers Association, an industry lobby that represents several community banks, objects to the portion of the rule that will force banks to sell TruPs C.D.O.s, and has filed a complaint before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit seeking a court order blocking the rule from taking effect before the end of the year (source: New York Times). The group claims that the regulators did not properly analyze the economic cost of this portion of the rule on small community banks and the impact on their capital levels.

Then, on 14 January 2014, the regulators released a final interim rule to permit banks to retain interests in TruPs C.D.O.s under the following conditions:Continue Reading New Year, New Troubles for US regulators: Volcker Rule challenged before federal courts

As part of the Dodd-Frank financial reforms, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) increased its oversight of “swaps”.  One change stemming from Dodd-Frank is that a “swap”, as defined in the Commodity Exchange Act and CFTC regulations, is now a “commodity interest”.  The CFTC regulates collective investment vehicles that invest in commodity interests, which it calls “commodity pools”.  This can include SPVs which are not incorporated in the U.S..

The CFTC regulates the person with managerial or operational control over the commodity pool which is referred to as the commodity pool operator (“CPO”).  Determining precisely which person should serve as the CPO in any given structure requires an analysis beyond the scope of this blog post but where there is a commodity pool, there must be a CPO.  CPOs can be subject to onerous regulatory requirements.  Determining whether or not an entity is a commodity pool and then whether its operator needs to register as a CPO requires some careful analysis and, to make the issue more interesting, the rules have undergone significant changes recently.
Continue Reading CFTC Rules – When is a European SPV a commodity pool?