No need for swaps rule postponement -U.S. Sen Reed

Wed May 25, 2011 1:00pm EDT

* Reed senses no "outcry" for delaying Dodd-Frank on swaps

* Reed backs carrying on with SEC, CFTC implementation

By Kevin Drawbaugh

WASHINGTON, May 25 (Reuters) - A key U.S. Senate Democrat on Wednesday told Reuters he saw no need to postpone implementation of new rules for the swaps market.

One day after a U.S. House of Representatives panel voted to do just that, Senator Jack Reed backed an implementation process that is now under way at the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

"My sense is we just have to move as the SEC and CFTC are moving, deliberately and responding to the industry," Reed said in an interview after a Senate subcommittee hearing he chaired with officials from the $600 trillion market.

Reed said their testimony was representative of clearing platforms, end-users and others in the market for swaps and over-the-counter derivatives, which is largely unpoliced.

"There was no outcry to stop it or postpone it," Reed said regarding a raft of new regulations mandated under 2010's Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms.

"What they want to do is to move deliberately and in appropriate sequence. As some indicated, the longer we wait with this structure not implemented," the more uncertainty develops in the marketplace, he said.

The first comprehensive U.S. regulation of the swaps market is on track to be implemented this year. But it would be delayed until September 2012 under a bill approved by the Republican-controlled House Financial Services Committee amid pressure from market players to slow down the process.

The Republican-controlled House Agriculture Committee voted on May 4 for an 18-month delay in swap-market regulation.

The new rules will require derivatives to go through clearinghouses and trade on exchanges as much as possible, with more disclosure and reporting also required.

The GOP postponement measures were not expected to become law since Senate Democrats and the White House oppose them.

Reed, the No. 2 Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, chairs the subcommittee that oversees swaps and played a lead role in writing the Dodd-Frank swap rules.

The sweeping Dodd-Frank reforms were approved last year in reply to the 2007-2009 financial crisis, which was amplified globally by unregulated credit default swaps and derivatives.

Swaps are financial contracts traded in private dealings among Wall Street banks and commercial corporations.

Wall Street banks make a lucrative business in arranging swap transactions and in speculating on swap contracts.

With the banks as intermediaries, businesses, known as end-users, buy and sell swaps to hedge against changes in costs for fuel and raw materials, among other business expenses.

The swaps market is dominated by a handful of giant financial firms, including JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N), Goldman Sachs (GS.N), Citigroup (C.N) and Bank of America (BAC.N).

Dealers in the market earn about $55 billion in annual revenue from over-the-counter derivatives trading, said Benn Steil, director of international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, at the hearing.

"It is natural, therefore, that dealers should resist a movement in trading activity onto exchanges and clearinghouses," Steil said. (Reporting by Kevin Drawbaugh, editing by Matthew Lewis)

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