The trade body has highlighted potential systemic risks of inhibiting collateral fluidity and the negative impact this could have on the stability and efficiency of capital markets.
A number of regulatory and market driven initiatives are in place to meet the challenges that currently constrain the efficient movement of collateral, including Target2-Securities, EU Central Securities Depository Regulation (CSDR) and tri-party settlement interoperability between ICSDs/CSDs.
However, according to ICMA’s study entitled 'Collateral is the new cash: the systemic risks of inhibiting collateral fluidity’, regulations such as the Basel III Leverage Ratio and the proposed EU Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) could prohibit the effective functioning of collateral markets.
For the markets, these regulations could mean less liquid secondary markets for securities, greater asset price volatility. Hedging, and the pricing and management of risk, could become more difficult. There may also be greater execution risks for investors.
Meanwhile the economy could suffer from reduced investment in capital and businesses, higher borrowing costs for governments, increased costs for corporate capital raisers and place more onus on central banks to support markets.
“If banks find it economically inefficient, or are restricted by regulation from supporting the critical functions of sourcing, pricing, managing, and mobilising collateral, and the infrastructure is not in place for the efficient mobilisation of collateral, then the basic intermediation roles of banks and financial markets - that of maturity, risk, and credit transformation - would be undermined,” says the study.
The proposed EU 11 Financial Transaction Tax (FTT), were it to be applied to securities finance trades, would severely impair the effective functioning of collateral markets. Another ICMA study suggests that the size of the European repo market could be reduced by as much as 66%, with the market effectively closed for transactions under six months’ maturity.
In addition, new Basel III capital adequacy requirements are making the balance sheets of banks more expensive. As a result, banks are having to rethink their business models and priorities. Low-margin, capital-intensive businesses, such as repo, are becoming less attractive.
“Sound regulation is essential for the efficient and stable functioning of the global funding and capital markets that support our economies,” says the IMCA’s report. “So is collateral. In this respect, regulation should not only avoid inhibiting collateral fluidity, but, where possible, it should aim to enhance it.
Godfried De Vidts, chair of ICMA’s European Repo Council, adds: “As we build the framework of new financial regulation for safer markets we should steer clear of embedding systemic risks which could contribute to future financial crises.”