House Advances Financial Modernization for 21st Century

Oct 19, 2000

House Advances Financial Modernization for 21st Century
Closely aligns with recommendations of President's Working Group

(October 19, 2000)

In close alignment with the views of the President's Working Group on Financial Services, the U.S. House of Representatives agreed by a nearly-unanimous 377 to 4 vote to modernize the U.S. futures industry regulations, establish legal certainty for the financial derivatives industry, and to reform outdated restrictions to allow U.S. futures exchanges to trade single stock futures instruments while retaining all current consumer protections.   The measure was brought to the House floor by Agriculture Risk Management Subcommittee Chairman Tom Ewing (R-IL), who guided the complex and extensive discussions among government and financial sectors as well as through the jurisdictions of three House committees.

“The Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000”  (H.R. 4541) provides a streamlined regulatory process for the U.S. futures industry, allows U.S. futures exchanges to trade single stock futures instruments, and provides legal certainty for the $90 trillion financial derivatives industry that has become critical to the operation of American finance and industry. [UPDATE: the final form of the bill was passed as H.R. 5660, and incorporated with other legislation as Public Law 106-554]

London's futures exchange will take the unprecedented step of trading single stock futures on American companies — without competition — unless federal regulation of U.S. futures exchanges is modernized.

"Our action today balances the capital and investment needs of American businesses at the point they intersect with the need to manage economic risk in a global environment," said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest (R-Texas), whose committee's jurisdiction over Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) is established from the 150-year-old agricultural futures markets.  "This bill modernizes the federal regulatory system to ensure that domestic financial service providers can compete in the global marketplace."
"Banking modernization was enacted last year.  It is time for the financial industry to move on to CEA modernization,"
said Tom Ewing (R-IL), Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman of Risk Management, Research, and Specialty Crops.  "I made it clear that I was interested in a comprehensive bill, and I believe this bill displays a substantial cooperative effort among the House Agriculture, Banking and Financial Services, and Commerce Committees to substantively address the most important reforms for the U.S. financial industry.  If the U.S. futures exchanges and OTC industry are to compete with new electronic exchanges and other foreign competition such as EUREX, we need to send a clear message that the United States will have a fair and competitive regulatory system."

"H.R. 4541 is an important piece of legislation and has a number of components that will improve the business environment for the derivatives portion of our nation's financial services industry," said Charlie Stenholm (D-TX), the Committee's Ranking Minority Member.

Three main reforms are the centerpiece of H.R. 4541:

Legal certainty to the vast, multi-trillion-dollar derivatives markets, but with certainty that only highly-sophisticated, deep-pocketed companies and individuals may participate in these markets.

Ability of the U.S. derivatives industry to trade single stock futures, but only under the watchful eyes of federal securities and futures regulators. (Reform of Shad/Johnson accord)

U.S. futures exchanges are allowed to set their own course in operating their derivatives markets under CFTC oversight, but without the burdens of a regulatory regime designed for the last century.