Two government agencies are seeking the help of Wall Street’s self-regulator as they team up to survey about $500 billion of daily transactions in the U.S. Treasuries market.
The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Treasury Department have asked the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority to require its members to report data on cash transactions centrally, according to a Monday statement from the two agencies. That should serve as a “first step” for regulators to gain access to comprehensive trading data in the market, said Treasury Counselor Antonio Weiss in a statement.
“Step one is collecting the data,” said Gennadiy Goldberg, an interest-rate strategist in New York with TD Securities (USA) LLC. “What’s going to be more contentious is determining how much to release to the public, and how frequently.”
Finra’s involvement would raise the number of regulators in the Treasury market to six. The SEC, Treasury, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Federal Reserve Board of Governors and New York Fed teamed up for a joint staff report on the events of October 15, 2014, when benchmark yields made a 12-minute, 16-basis-point round trip without a discernible cause.
The agencies are reaching out to Finra as debate heats up over the future of regulation for the $13.4 trillion market. Finra currently reports corporate debt trading data to the public. It regulates the broker-dealer arms of major banks such as Citigroup Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., as well as some automated trading firms, including KCG Holdings Inc. and Virtu Financial Inc. It doesn’t regulate hedge funds or automated trading firms that trade only their own capital, however.
“We look forward to working with the agencies on this important initiative to provide regulators more information on the Treasury markets,” Finra spokeswoman Nancy Condon said in an e-mailed statement.
While market participants broadly agree that more data should be reported to regulators, they are split over how much of that data should be reported publicly, according to 52 letters sent to the Treasury Department in response to a January request for information.
On one side, some of the 23 primary dealers that trade with the Federal Reserve expressed worry that public reporting could damage their ability to take risk on behalf of their clients. On the other, automated market-making firms such as KCG and Virtu say it would help investors better analyze the efficiency of their counterparties.
Regulators are developing a plan to access trading data for all cash Treasuries by the end of this year, Treasury Counselor Weiss told subcommittees of the Senate Banking Committee in April. The Treasury also “will have articulated a point of view about post-trade reporting” of data by that time, he said.