WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Global securities regulators launched three task forces to study abusive short selling, unregulated financial products and unregulated financial entities such as hedge funds, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said on Monday.
The working groups were established amid volatile market conditions and designed to support work of the world’s 20 largest economies, which have already agreed to step up oversight of the troubled financial system.
One group will focus on aligning global regulators’ approach to naked short selling, the SEC said.
Short selling, or betting on declining stock prices, is a legitimate investment strategy where investors borrow stock they expect to fall in price in the hope of repaying the loans for less and profiting from the difference.
Naked short selling occurs when the investor sells stock that has not yet been borrowed, which can distort markets.
Securities regulators are “taking urgent action to coordinate global regulatory measures aimed at abusive short selling, including reporting requirements for short positions and trading activity,” SEC Chairman Christopher Cox said in a statement.
The International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), an international policy forum for securities regulators, met via teleconference earlier on Monday to discuss urgent regulatory issues in the ongoing credit crisis.
Cox is the chairman of IOSCO’s technical committee and organized Monday’s meeting.
The SEC said a second working group will examine ways to “introduce greater transparency” and supervision to unregulated markets, such as the over-the-counter markets for derivatives, which have been blamed for worsening the financial crisis.
The third task force will examine unregulated entities such as hedge funds and develop recommendations to mitigate risks associated with their trading and secretive nature, the SEC said.
The task forces are due to present their reports at IOSCO’s next technical meeting in February and to the next G-20 summit in spring 2009, the SEC said.
Reporting by Rachelle Younglai; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Carol Bishopric