Senate Bill Pushes for Federal Oversight of Derivatives Trading
LCG, Feb. 15, 2002--A group of senators from Western states introduced legislation yesterday that would make over-the-counter energy contracts and derivatives trading subject to federal oversight.Since prior legislation was passed in 2000, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission has been explicitly prohibited from overseeing energy contracts for electricity, natural gas, oil, gasoline and related commodities that are bought and sold outside regulated commodity exchanges, such as the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX).The sponsoring legislators, senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer of California, Maria Canwell, D-Wash., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., would like electronic trading forums like the former EnronOnline, as well as contracts traded outside electronic marketplaces, to be overseen by the CFTC if settlement is done in cash and if the contract does not require delivery of a commodity. Derivatives contracts are linked to underlying prices of commodites. Billions of dollars' worth of derivatives contracts are traded, with such trading being a primary source of Enron Corp.'s profits.In cases where the CFTC did not have authority to oversee certain transactions, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would have oversight, according to the legislation. At a Congressional hearing Wednesday, CFTC chairman James Newsome, a Republican, testified that his agency has all of the regulatory authority it needs in the aftermath of Enron's collapse.
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