Wednesday 5th August 2015
NEWS TICKER, Tuesday, AUGUST 4TH: The US inland revenue service says the FATCA International Data Exchange Service (IDES) will be unavailable this weekend from 6:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (UTC/GMT -4) on Saturday, August 8th until 2:00 am EDT on Sunday, August 9th. This extends the regularly scheduled maintenance window by an additional 2 hours – According to Telecoms.com Apple has been trialling a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) service in the US and is in talks to launch one in Europe too. Apple filed a patent in 2006 detailing an MVNO set up in which Apple acts as the hub for a number of networks. The idea seems to be for there to be some kind of real-time process in which network operators effectively bid for business each time an Apple MVNO subscriber wants to make a call for example. Apple has already installed an embedded SIM in the latest iPads, so its interest in controlling the relationship between users of its devices and mobile networks is already apparent. The specialist web news service says that Apple is also reportedly working on using Siri to automatically transcribe voicemails. However, any application is years away. Symbiont, a pioneer in the use of the blockchain and distributed ledger technology in capital markets, today issued the first Smart Securities™ on the Bitcoin blockchain. Symbiont’s live platform allows institutions and investors to issue, manage, trade, clear, settle and transfer a range of financial instruments more efficiently on decentralized and distributed peer-to-peer financial networks that are cryptographically secured. Initial use cases for Smart Securities include corporate debt, syndicated loans, securitised instruments and private equity. Generically known as “smart contracts”, these instruments are programmable versions of traditional securities issued on any type of distributed ledger, such as a blockchain. Once a security is issued onto the ledger, it acts autonomously, eliminating traditionally manual mid- and back-office functions. Mark Smith, CEO and co-founder of Symbiont. “With interest in distributed ledger technology growing rapidly, financial institutions are exploring how to leverage it to improve the efficiency and security of trading and processing financial transactions. Smart Securities™ will ultimately change the way that financial instruments are issued, managed, and traded.” Symbiont was formed as a combination of MathMoney (fx) and Counterparty, the most successful Bitcoin 2.0 project, which was founded in 2013. Mark Smith is joined at Symbiont by co-founders Robbie Dermody (President); Evan Wagner (MD, Operations); and Adam Krellenstein (CTO).

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Volcker Rule likely delayed until after US presidential elections

Monday, 16 April 2012
Volcker Rule likely delayed until after US presidential elections As mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act, the Volcker Rule—named for its author, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker—prohibits commercial banks from using their own capital to invest in hedge funds and private equity funds, unless such activity is deemed “systemically important” (that is, is related to market making, securitisation, hedging, and/or risk management) and is limited to a three-percent ownership stake. With nary a fan on either side of the pond, the much-maligned Volcker Rule could be ripe for modification—though any change is more likely to happen later than sooner. David Simons reports. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

As mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act, the Volcker Rule—named for its author, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker—prohibits commercial banks from using their own capital to invest in hedge funds and private equity funds, unless such activity is deemed “systemically important” (that is, is related to market making, securitisation, hedging, and/or risk management) and is limited to a three-percent ownership stake. With nary a fan on either side of the pond, the much-maligned Volcker Rule could be ripe for modification—though any change is more likely to happen later than sooner. David Simons reports.

Regulators had hoped to have the Volcker Rule finalised by mid-July. However, ironing out the increasingly complex proposal—which includes newly added exemptions needed to placate the bill’s many opponents—will likely take much longer.

Retiring Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank, head of the House Financial Services Committee and co-author of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, has suggested something of a compromise; that regulators work towards completing a simplified version of the law by early September. "The agencies [have] tried to accommodate a variety of views on the implementation,” says Frank, “but the results reflected in the proposed rule are far too complex, and the final rules should be simplified significantly.”



Financial institutions may be struggling to regain public trust in the wake of the 2008 credit meltdown; however that has not stopped officials from taking aim at the proposed Volcker legislation during the SEC’s comment period which closed on February 13th. Speaking on behalf of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), Tim Ryan, SIFMA’s president and chief executive officer called the proposed regulations “unworkable” and “not faithful to Congressional intent”. Moreover, Ryan says they will have negative consequences for US financial markets and the economy.

Echoing a common theme among Volcker critics, Ryan contends that the new law could result in drastically reduced market liquidity for investors, and make it more difficult for companies to raise capital. SIFMA’s five-part comment letter includes proposed modifications to proprietary trading restrictions and hedge fund/private-equity fund investment activity under Volcker, and expresses concern over Volcker’s impact on municipal securities and global securitisation.

Like almost everything else drafted by the Obama White House, the Volcker Rule has virtually no support in the GOP, and includes among its detractors Daniel Gallagher and Troy Paredes, the two Republican members of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Speaking at an Institute of International Bankers conference held in Washington last month, Gallagher suggested that regulators re-examine their initial efforts and, if necessary, “go back to the drawing board to make sure we regulate wisely, rather than just quickly.”

Not that all of the criticisms have had political overtones. An exception to the rule allowing US banks to continue trading treasuries and municipal bonds has drawn fire from state and local government agencies, which have demanded that they receive the same exemption. The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB), the US-based firm charged with protecting investor interest in the municipal-securities space, has urged regulators to expand the rule’s proprietary trading exemptions to include municipal-bond brokers. It’s an effort to avoid “bifurcation” within the municipal securities market, says MSRB, warning current exemptions “are not useful in the municipal securities market,” and unless modified will “prevent a free and open market from prevailing.”

Nor has Volcker venting been limited to the US. In a comment letter issued in February, the European Fund and Asset Management Association (EFAMA), the representative association for Europe’s investment-management community, argued that exemptions favouring US institutions pose a serious threat to European funds due to the potential shift in the balance of power. Accordingly, regulators should take the necessary steps to prevent any negative impact on liquidity and operational efficiency abroad, said the group.

Meanwhile, Oregon’s Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley, who along with Senator Carl Levin of Michigan helped draft some of the Volcker provisions, bristled at suggestions that substantial modifications would be required. If anything, said Merkley, the rule needs to be tougher, though not “as vague or complex as regulators are making it.” Also in favour of a stronger Volcker is former Citigroup chief executive officer John S Reed, who has argued that in its present form the rule “does not offer bright enough lines or provide strong enough penalties for violation."

Having made regulatory reform one of its chief priorities, the Obama administration is unlikely to cede any ground in the months leading up to the US presidential elections in November. Hence, even the most vocal of Volcker opponents admit that change is unlikely to happen until after the new Congress convenes in January of next year.

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