What is in this article?:
- Fallout over the late-October bankruptcy of MF Global Holdings Ltd. has spawned FBI and Justice Department investigations and left many wondering how, in the wake of supposed Wall Street reforms, government oversight of another financial institution was so lax.
- More importantly for the agriculture sector, the bankruptcy and government response has prompted many questions about the safety of futures trading.
Hearings and questions
What about the Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on Thursday?
“Gensler should be asked why he thought commodity customers would be best protected as a (Security Investors Protection Act)liquidation. To my mind, that makes very little sense.
“The cornerstone of the futures industry is segregated funds. (The Security Investors Protection Act)doesn’t have the same respect for those because they view customer accounts as insured vehicles. In the case of commodities, ‘well, this is high risk and you’re on your own without insurance.
“They must also ask (Gensler): how is this possible when these funds are accounted for on a daily basis to you, the (National Futures Association), and, in this case, the (Chicago Mercantile Exchange)?
Second, ‘at what point were you going to get around to preventing extraordinarily high risk trades from being placed with customer funds?’
“If that’s what happened here – they made perfectly legal trades and took loans from customer funds to back them – how is it acceptable to take a 40-to-one leveraged position with customer funds? How can the CFTC regulate the industry well if it allows such?”
Any push-back against your group?
“We’re on everyone’s radar. That much is clear. There hasn’t been any blowback that we’re aware of. But we anticipate some.
“Inevitably, when you rattle cages someone is bound to rattle yours.”
Any farmer or commodity advocacy groups in your corner on this?
“What’s interesting … is there’s often an advocacy group that’s ill-equipped and underfunded to deal with something like this. We’re trying to get those groups to join with us.
“A group with a $10,000 annual budget can’t do $100,000 worth of litigation. We wouldn’t have been able to do that either without attorneys willing to work pro bono or at incredibly reduced rates.
“So, we’re trying to rouse those groups and get them to join in.”