The following posts provide a snapshot of the principal U.S., European and global financial regulatory developments of interest to banks, investment firms, broker-dealers, market infrastructures, asset managers and corporates.
Revised ISDA 2006 Definitions Implementing Pre-Cessation Fallbacks Expected in July 2020
The International Swaps and Derivatives Association has published a summary, prepared by the Brattle group, of the responses to the ISDA 2020 consultation on how to implement pre-cessation fallbacks in derivatives. Pre-cessation triggers would cause LIBOR-based derivative contracts to fall back to an alternative reference rate in the event that the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority deemed LIBOR no longer to be representative. ISDA sought views as to whether provisions should be included in its standard documentation specifying that rate options for LIBOR in USD, GBP, CHF, JPY and EUR all contain fallbacks that would apply upon the earlier of: (i) a permanent cessation trigger; and (ii) a 'non-representativeness' trigger.
The report confirms the preliminary findings, published by ISDA on April 15, 2020. The majority of respondents are in favor of including the pre-cessation fallbacks in ISDA documentation via either an amended version of the ISDA 2006 definitions (for new contracts) or a protocol (for legacy contracts).
In July 2020, ISDA intends to publish the amended 2006 ISDA Definitions to incorporate the fallbacks for new trades. The protocol will be published at the same time. Both the revised Definitions and the new protocol will come into effect before the end of 2020.
View the report.
View ISDA's press release.
Bank of England Weighs in on LIBOR Transition with a mandatory additional LIBOR collateral haircut
The Bank of England has published a market notice on risk management approaches to collateral referencing LIBOR for use in the Sterling Monetary Framework. The market risk notice applies to GBP LIBOR, USD LIBOR, EUR LIBOR, JPY LIBOR and CHF LIBOR. It states that from April 1, 2021, a haircut add-on will be applied to all LIBOR Linked Collateral maturing after December 31, 2021. LIBOR Linked Collateral is LIBOR Linked Loan Portfolios, Collateral Securities where the coupon pays interest calculated by reference to LIBOR, Collateral Securities where embedded swap payments are calculated by reference to LIBOR and Collateral Securities backed by loans where one or more loans in the portfolio is a LIBOR Linked Loan. The add-on will be 10% from April 1, 2021, 40% from September 1, 2021 and 100% from December 31, 2021.
The market notice also stipulates that from April 2021, LIBOR Linked Collateral that matures after December 2021 will be ineligible for use in the Sterling Monetary Framework.
View the market notice.
International Swaps and Derivatives Association Announces Preliminary Results of LIBOR Pre-Cessation Fallbacks Consultation
The International Swaps and Derivatives Association has announced the preliminary results of its consultation on pre-cessation fallbacks for LIBOR-referencing derivatives. The consultation was launched in February 2020, and sought industry responses on ISDA’s proposals to add a pre-cessation trigger to the LIBOR cessation fallbacks ISDA is proposing to implement in its standard documentation. The trigger would cause LIBOR-based derivative contracts to fall back to an alternative reference rate in the event that the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority deemed LIBOR to be no longer representative.
Financial Stability Board Writes to G20 on COVID-19 Response
The Financial Stability Board has published a letter from Randal K. Quarles, the FSB Chair, to G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors on the response to the coronavirus pandemic. The letter highlights that the financial sector needs to respond to a "twin challenge": the increased demand for credit throughout the global economy and the uncertainty around the value of assets. The letter describes how the FSB and its member jurisdictions have responded to the pandemic to support local and global market functioning, discussing in particular, the steps taken to maintaining financial stability and supporting the real economy during the COVID-19 crisis. The letter also outlines the work to promote a global financial system that supports a strong recovery, including the FSB's prioritizing of certain areas, namely non-bank financial intermediation, the orderly transition away from LIBOR, utilizing technological innovation to assist in cybersecurity and promoting efficient and resilient cross-border payments.
View the FSB's letter.
Details of other regulatory responses to COVID-19 are available on our COVID-19 Research Center.
UK Conduct Regulator: COVID-19 Will Not Impact LIBOR Deadline
On March 25, 2020, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority confirmed that COVID-19 is not expected to affect LIBOR preparations and the target date for LIBOR cessation of the end of 2021 still stands. The FCA does acknowledge, however, that some interim LIBOR milestones may not be met as a result of the pandemic, and it will continue to monitor the impact on such timelines carefully.
View the FCA's statement on COVID-19 and LIBOR.
Details of other regulatory responses to COVID-19 are available at our COVID-19 Research Center.
EU Working Group on Risk-Free Rates Consults on Voluntary Compensation for Legacy Swaptions
The EU Working Group on Risk-Free Rates has launched a consultation on a proposed recommendation for voluntary compensation for legacy swaptions impacted by the CCP discounting transition to Euro Short-Term Rate (€STR). A Swaption is a type of interest-rate derivative contract. The CCP discounting switch from EONIA to €STR is planned for June 2020. The Working Group has identified that if the exercise date of swaptions is after the CCP transition date, the valuation of the products may change because of the discounting switch from EONIA to €STR. However, because the contracts are bilateral, the CCP compensation mechanism will not apply. The Working Group is seeking feedback on whether it should issue recommendations on the voluntary exchange of a cash compensation between bilateral counterparties to swaption contracts.
The consultation closes on April 3, 2020.
View the consultation paper.
Working Group on Sterling Risk-Free Reference Rates Publishes Roadmap for Ceasing New GBP LIBOR Lending by Q4 2020
The Working Group on Sterling Risk-Free Reference Rates has published two documents relevant to the transition away from the use of LIBOR. The first is a statement on bond market conventions and the second is a path for discontinuation of new GBP LIBOR lending by the end of Q3 2020.
Bank of England Announces LIBOR Initiatives and Publishes Discussion Paper on Risk-Free Rates Transition
Andrew Hauser, the Executive Directive of Markets at the Bank of England, today announced the launch of two significant initiatives to boost the U.K.’s transition away from sterling LIBOR. Firstly, the BoE intends to begin publishing a compounded Sterling Overnight Index Average index from July 2020, enabling market participants to construct compounded SONIA rates which can be used as a replacement reference rate for term LIBOR-linked instruments. Secondly, from October 2020, the BoE will progressively increase the haircuts applied to LIBOR-linked collateral placed with the BoE as security against central bank loans, with a final haircut of 100% by the end of 2021.
International Swaps and Derivatives Association Announces Results of LIBOR Fallbacks Consultation and New Pre-Cessation Fallbacks Consultation
The International Swaps and Derivatives Association has published the results of its consultation on fallbacks to be introduced into standard ISDA documentation based on alternative risk-free rates for EUR LIBOR and EURIBOR. The fallbacks would apply if the relevant IBOR were to be permanently discontinued. Respondents to the consultation agreed with ISDA’s proposed approach of adopting a compounded setting in arrears rate with a backward-shift adjustment and historical median over a five-year lookback period approach to address technical issues associated with the fallback rates. ISDA therefore intends to develop fallback provisions on this basis. It will publish an anonymized summary of the consultation feedback in the coming weeks.
EU Working Group on Risk-Free Rates Publishes Report on Liquidity in EONIA transition
The EU Working Group on Risk-Free Rates has published a report setting out recommendations for the transition of financial products from EONIA to the Euro Short-Term Rate (€STR). The recommendations aim to ensure liquidity in €STR cash and derivatives products and include practical recommendations, such as replacing EONIA with €STR products at the earliest opportunity and communicating with customers and other market participants about the transition.
Financial Stability Board Highlights Vulnerabilities in Global Financial System
The Financial Stability Board has written to G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors outlining the key focus areas for the FSB’s work ahead of the next G20 summit in Saudi Arabia in November 2020. The communication builds on certain areas highlighted as priorities in the FSB’s 2020 Work Program, published in December 2019.
Further Consultation on Pre-Cessation Fallbacks Announced
The International Swaps and Derivatives Association has announced that it will be issuing later in February 2020 a further consultation on how to implement pre-cessation fallbacks. A “pre-cessation” trigger in derivative contracts would cause LIBOR-based contracts to fall back to an alternative reference rate in the event that the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority deemed LIBOR no longer to be representative.
UK Regulator Outlines Priorities for Supervising Benchmark Administrators
The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has written to the CEOs of benchmark administrators that it supervises. In the letter, the FCA sets out its supervisory strategy as well as the potential harms that benchmark administrators pose to their customers and to the financial markets. The FCA is asking all benchmark administrators to consider the harm that their firm may present and to consider how those could be mitigated. The FCA intends to focus over the next two years on the following areas to ensure that its supervision of benchmark administrators mitigates the identified risks:
- Quality of standards: the quality of an administrator's governance and controls, the information provided in their Benchmark Statement, their recalculation and cessation policies, their outsourcing arrangements and their approach to operational resilience; and
- Excessive fees and costs: the FCA is concerned that competition may not be working well in the provision of benchmarks following the feedback received to its Wholesale Sector Competition Review and Asset Management Market Study. The FCA intends to carry out a Call for Input on access to data in wholesale markets so that it can gain a better understanding of the issues and determine whether any action is needed.
UK Conduct Regulator Wants Asset Management Sector to Reflect on Risks to Customers and Markets
The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has published two letters addressed to the CEOs of firms in the asset management and funds sectors. The first letter is addressed to CEOs of FCA-authorized firms directly managing mainstream investment vehicles or advising on mainstream investments, excluding wealth managers and financial advisers. The second letter is addressed to CEOs of FCA-authorized firms managing alternative investment vehicles, such as hedge funds or private equity funds, or managing alternative assets directly or advising on these types of investments. The letters follow the FCA's report on its review of how firms in the asset management sector selected and used risk modeling and other portfolio management tools.
UK Conduct Regulator Clarifies Rules on Publication of Non-Representative LIBOR
The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has responded to a request from the International Swaps and Derivatives Association for clarification on the expected timeframes for publication of a non-representative LIBOR. The FCA (in conjunction with the Financial Stability Board) had previously requested ISDA to introduce “pre-cessation” triggers in its derivative contracts, causing LIBOR-based contracts to fall back to an alternative reference rate in the event that the FCA deemed LIBOR to no longer be representative. ISDA requested clarity about the length of the period during which such a non-representative LIBOR might be published prior to its total cessation.
International Swaps and Derivatives Association Consults on Fallbacks Based on Alternative Risk-Free Rates For Derivatives Referencing EUR Libor and EURIBOR
The International Swaps and Derivatives Association has launched a consultation in which it proposes to amend its standard documentation to implement fallbacks based on alternative risk-free rates for certain key Interbank Offered Rates - EUR LIBOR and EURIBOR. ISDA states that the back-ups will apply if the relevant IBOR is permanently discontinued, based on defined triggers. Responses to the consultation should be submitted to ISDA by January 21, 2020.
UK Prudential Regulatory Authority Responds on Prudential Impediments for Banks Arising from the LIBOR Transition
The Prudential Regulation Authority has published a letter addressed to the Chair of the Working Group on Sterling Risk-Free Reference Rates. The letter responds to the Working Group's letter in October 2019 requesting regulatory forbearance or clarification from regulators on the impact that the LIBOR transition is likely to have on the prudential requirements for banks. The main issues raised by the Working Group include: (i) the potential for certain capital instruments to no longer qualify as regulatory capital; (ii) the potential for securitizations and MREL-eligible instruments to be considered as "new contracts" as a result of changes to contractual terms, leading to the need to insert bail-in or other bank recovery contractual terms; and (iii) that many banks will need to obtain regulatory approvals for alterations to the models used to determine their regulatory capital arising from their exposures and risks.
Financial Stability Board Calls for Sustained Efforts to Migrate From LIBOR
The Financial Stability Board has published a progress report on reforms to major interest rate benchmarks. The report provides the FSB's annual update on progress taken by the official sector and market participants to move from interbank offered rates to overnight risk-free rates by the end of 2021 in line with the FSB's 2014 recommendations. The FSB highlights that the continued reliance by global financial markets on LIBOR poses significant financial stability risks and urges all participants to continue with their efforts to transition to the alternative risk-free rates. The FSB also warns regulated firms to expect increased examination from regulators of their efforts to transition as the end of 2021 approaches.
View the report.
Financial Stability Board Publishes 2020 Work Program
The Financial Stability Board has published its work program for 2020. The FSB confirms that it will continue to monitor developments to identify and manage new and emerging risks, work to finalize the outstanding components of the post-crisis reforms and assess the implementation of reforms as well as their effects. Key areas of focus will be:
- LIBOR transition: the FSB will monitor implementation of the benchmark reforms and report on outstanding issues.
- Global stablecoins: the FSB will launch a consultation on global stablecoins in April 2020.
- Global payment systems: the FSB will work with other international bodies to develop and deliver a roadmap for using digital innovations to improve global cross-border payments.
- FinTech: the FSB will report on the perspective of emerging market and developing economies.
View the FSB work program for 2020.
UK Conduct Regulator Sets Out Conduct Expectations of Firms For LIBOR Transition
The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has published a statement on conduct risk during the LIBOR transition, which is due to be completed by the end of 2021. The statement is in the form of questions and answers and sets out the FCA's expectations of firms relating to governance and accountability, replacing LIBOR with alternative rates in existing contracts, offering new products with alternative rates, communicating with customers about the transition from LIBOR and best practice for firms investing on behalf of clients.
View the FCA's statement.
Financial Stability Board’s LIBOR Steering Group Encourages ISDA to Roll Out Pre-Cessation Trigger
The co-Chairs of the Financial Stability Board’s Official Sector Steering Group, whose work focuses on interest rate benchmarks that are deemed to play a critical role in the global financial system, have written to the International Swaps and Derivatives Association requesting that it includes a “pre-cessation trigger” alongside the cessation trigger in its standard language in derivatives contracts, via either definitions for new contracts or in a single protocol (without embedded optionality) for outstanding contracts. The pre-cessation trigger would cause a LIBOR-based contract to fall back to an alternative reference rate in the event that the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, as the regulator of LIBOR, deemed that LIBOR was no longer representative.
Working Group on Euro Risk-Free Rates Makes Recommendations for €STR Fall-Back Arrangements
The European Central Bank has published a report by the working group on euro risk-free rates on €STR fall-back arrangements. The EU Benchmark Regulation requires regulated entities to have put in place written plans on the steps that they would take should a benchmark used in their contracts be materially amended or ceases. The Working Group recommends that instead of selecting an alternative rate, regulated entities should take into account the ECB's regular review of €STR's methodology and the policies and procedures for the possible cessation of €STR, together with the use of contractual fallbacks.
View the report.
EU Recommendations on Financial Accounting Implications of Transition to €STR
The European Central Bank has published a report by the working group on euro risk-free rates on the financial accounting implications of the transition from EONIA to €STR and the introduction of €STR-based fallbacks for EURIBOR.
Working Group on Sterling Risk-Free Reference Rates Asks Regulators to Act on Prudential Impediments to LIBOR Transition
The Working Group on Sterling Risk-Free Reference Rates has written to the Prudential Regulation Authority raising issues in the banking prudential regulation regime that, in its view, will require changes and/or regulatory forbearance if a smooth transition from LIBOR to SONIA is to be achieved. Although the letter focuses on the U.K. regime, the issues are likely to be relevant globally.
European Central Bank Publishes Report on the Risk Management Implications of the Euro Risk-Free Rates Provisions
The European Central Bank has published a report on the risk management implications of the upcoming move away from the Euro Overnight Index Average (the overnight reference rate for the euro) and EURIBOR (the term reference rate for the euro) to alternative risk-free rates. Both EONIA and EURIBOR were identified as critical benchmarks for the purposes of the EU Benchmarks Regulation.
Working Group on Sterling Risk-Free Reference Rates Publishes Summary of Responses to Discussion Paper on SONIA Referencing Conventions
The Working Group on Sterling Risk-Free Reference Rates has published a summary of the responses it received to its March 2019 discussion paper on conventions for referencing SONIA in new financial contracts.
European Central Bank Announces Publication Time for Euro Short-Term Rate
The European Central Bank has announced the publication time for the new Euro short-term rate (or €STR) that will come into effect from October 2, 2019. €STR will represent the wholesale euro unsecured overnight borrowing costs of banks located in the euro area. The ECB has also published the final version of its Guideline in the Official Journal of the European Union. The Guideline is addressed to all Eurosystem central banks and will govern the rate and establish the responsibilities of the ECB and national central banks in determining and administering the rate.
Reformed EONIA Publication Times Confirmed
The European Money Markets Institute has announced that EONIA will be published daily at or soon after 9:15 CET, as from October 2, 2019.
EURIBOR Benchmark Statement Published
The European Money Markets Institute has published a Benchmark Statement on the administration of Euro Interbank Offered Rate (Euribor). Earlier in July this year, the EMMI obtained authorization as the administrator of Euribor, which is a critical benchmark under the EU Benchmark Regulation. EMMI has made reforms to Euribor in order to ensure it meets the requirements of the Regulation, including adopting a new hybrid methodology, the phased implementation of which will be completed by the end of 2019.
View EMMI's announcement and the Benchmark Statement.
Recommended Legal Action Plan for Transition from EONIA to €STR
Following its consultation earlier this year, the working group charged with implementing the European market's move away from EONIA, has published a recommended legal action plan for new and legacy contracts referencing EONIA. The implementation of the recommended legal measures is intended to address issues arising from the transition from EONIA to the euro short-term rate (known as €STR). €STR is a risk-free rate and, with a fixed spread, will replace EONIA as a reference rate in a variety of euro-denominated financial contracts, including derivatives, collateral remuneration for derivatives and cash products such as commercial paper, repurchase agreements and default interest payable under syndicated loans.
European Central Bank Requests Benchmark Transition Plans from Large Eurozone Banks
The Chair of the Supervisory Board of the European Central Bank, Andrea Enria, has written a "Dear CEO" letter to the larger Eurozone banks on their preparation for the transition from interest rate benchmarks to risk-free-rates. The ECB is responsible for direct prudential supervision of certain significant banks based in the Eurozone as part of the Single Supervisory Mechanism. The ECB is seeking assurance from these banks that they have plans in place to address the transition from interest rate benchmarks to risk-free-rates, focusing on the transition from the Euro overnight index average, EONIA, to the Euro short-term rate - €STR - as a euro risk-free rate. EONIA will be calculated as €STR plus a fixed spread, from October 2, 2019, which is when €STR will be launched. EONIA is due to cease entirely from the beginning of 2022.
The ECB is requesting the significant Eurozone banks to provide: (i) a summary of the key risks to the reform of benchmarks; (ii) a detailed action plan on how to address those risks and pricing issues as well as implement process changes; and (iii) contact details for those at the firm overseeing the transition.
View the letter.
View details of the new EONIA methodology.
UK Regulator Publishes Findings from LIBOR Review
The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has published a report summarizing the preparations that firms are making for the market transition away from LIBOR to alternative risk-free rates by the end of 2021. The report is based on feedback from firms in response to the joint Dear CEO letter sent to major banks and insurers by the FCA and the Prudential Regulation Authority, which sought information on the action firms were taking to prepare for the phase-out of LIBOR. The report also includes suggestions for how firms might enhance their preparations.
EONIA Methodology and One-Off Spread Confirmed
The European Money Markets Institute has adopted the EONIA working group's proposed methodology for calculating EONIA's replacement rate. The new methodology, dubbed "€STR" (or the "Euro short term rate"), will take effect as of October 2, 2019. In line with the adoption of the €STR, the European Central Bank has calculated the average risk spread between the new €STR and the existing EONIA rate as 0.0085% (8.5 basis points). The spread will be used for a limited period to calculate an adjusted EONIA rate for all existing contracts which continue to reference EONIA following the introduction of the €STR in October 2019.
International Swaps and Derivatives Association Consults Further on Fallbacks for the Cessation of Benchmarks
The International Swaps and Derivatives Association has published two consultation papers on fallbacks for benchmarks. The first consultation paper concerns proposed amendments to ISDA's standard documentation to implement fallbacks based on alternative risk-free rates for certain key Interbank Offered Rates (USD LIBOR, Hong Kong's HIBOR, Canada's CDOR and Singapore's SOR), should the relevant IBOR be permanently discontinued. ISDA is intending to amend and restate the rate options in the 2006 ISDA Definitions to ensure that a fallback will apply to derivative transactions entered into on or after the effective date of the amendments and incorporate the 2006 ISDA Definitions. ISDA also intends to publish a protocol to help ensure inclusion of the fallbacks in pre-existing derivative transactions. This consultation follows ISDA's consultation last July on these changes for GBP LIBOR, CHF LIBOR, JPY LIBOR, TIBOR, Euroyen TIBOR and BBSW. ISDA confirms that the feedback to that July 2018 consultation indicates that market participants prefer the "compounded setting in arrears rate" to address the difference in tenors, and the "historical mean/median approach" to address the difference in risk premia. Based on the feedback to both of these consultations, ISDA intends to implement fallbacks for the relevant benchmarks by the end of 2019.
EONIA Working Group Seeks Feedback on Implementation of Euro Risk-Free Rates
The working group charged with implementing the European market's move away from EONIA, the current reference rate used in euro-denominated financial contracts, has published a consultation paper setting out its "Legal Action Plan" for transitioning to the chosen new euro short-term rate. The current consultation paper focuses on how the new rate should be incorporated into both new and existing financial contracts so as to ensure a swift and smooth transition from EONIA. The paper seeks feedback from market participants on its proposals. Responses should be sent by June 12, 2019.
Working Group on Sterling Risk-Free Rates Publishes Discussion Paper on SONIA Referencing Conventions
The Working Group on Sterling Risk-Free Rates has published a discussion paper aimed at raising awareness for market participants of the conventions for referencing SONIA in new financial contracts. The paper focuses on the most significant conventions for contracts that reference SONIA directly. The paper concludes with a series of questions for market participants, who should submit responses by April 30, 2019.
Working Group on Euro Risk-Free Rates Publishes Guiding Principles for Fallback Provisions in New Non-Derivative Contracts
The European Central Bank working group on euro risk-free rates has published guiding principles for fallback provisions in new contracts for euro-denominated cash products. Noting the work that is being undertaken by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association on fall-backs for derivatives referencing EURIBOR and other IBOR rates, the guidelines focus on non-derivative “cash products”, such as mortgages, loans, securitizations, covered bonds and secured finance transactions.
Financial Stability Board Progress Report on Reforming Major Interest Rate Benchmarks
The Financial Stability Board has published a progress report on ongoing reforms to major interest rate benchmarks. The FSB has been co-ordinating international reform work, through its Official Sector Steering Group, since 2014, when it made several recommendations aimed at addressing cases of attempted manipulation in relation to key IBORs and the decline in liquidity in certain interbank unsecured funding markets. The OSSG launched a third major initiative in 2016, to improve contract robustness to address risks of discontinuation of widely-used interest rate benchmarks. That initiative is being led by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, which launched a consultation on fallback rates in July 2018.
The progress report provides an update since the FSB's progress report in October 2017 and covers:
- Developments in Interbank Offered Rates, including discussion of the future of LIBOR.
- Identification of and transition to risk-free rates, where appropriate, for transactions denominated in USD, EUR, JPY, GBP, CHF, AUD, BRL, CAD, HKD, MXN, SGD and ZAR.
- The development of fallback rates to enhance contractual robustness.
The FSB proposes to publish a further progress report in late 2019.
View the progress report.
View details of the October 2017 progress report.
View details of ISDA's July 2018 consultation on fallback rates.
View FSB statement welcoming ISDA's July 2018 consultation.
European Money Markets Institute Launches Second Consultation on Hybrid Methodology for Euribor
The European Money Markets Institute has published a second consultation paper (dated October 17, 2018) on its proposals to introduce a hybrid determination methodology for the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (Euribor). EMMI is the administrator for Euribor, a major euro interest reference rate for unsecured interbank short-term lending and borrowing. Euribor was classed as a critical benchmark of systemic importance for financial stability by the European Commission in 2016.
The consultation paper sets out a summary of EMMI's findings during the testing phase for the newly proposed hybrid methodology, which took place between May and July 2018, and provides details on EMMI's proposals for the different methodological parameters that were yet to be specified when EMMI's first consultation was issued in March 2018. The consultation paper seeks feedback from market participants on a number of questions on aspects of the proposed methodology.
UK Regulators Ask Large Banks and Insurers for LIBOR Transition Plans
The Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority have published letters addressed to the CEOs of the largest banks and insurers supervised in the U.K. asking for confirmation of each firm's preparations for transition from LIBOR to risk-free rates. The regulators are requesting these firms to provide the following by December 14, 2018:
- A summary of the firm's assessment of key risks relating to LIBOR discontinuation and details of actions the firm intends to take to mitigate those risks, approved by the board; and
- The names of the Senior Manager(s) responsible for the provision of the firm's response to the letter and for implementing its transition plans.
The letter relates to the ongoing global benchmark reform effort instigated by the Financial Stability Board, in particular, the transition from LIBOR to alternative rates by the end of 2021. Firms that have not received the letter are not subject to the information request, but the regulators ask those firms to nevertheless consider their LIBOR transition plans, where relevant.
View the letters.
Working Group Recommends Replacement of EONIA With New Euro Short-Term Rate
The European Central Bank has announced its recommendation of the Euro short-term rate - €STR - as a euro risk-free rate by a private sector working group. The group also recommends that €STR replaces the Euro overnight index average, EONIA, because EONIA no longer complies with the EU Benchmark Regulation and will be restricted from January 1, 2020. The recommendations of the working group are not legally binding.
UK Working Group Outlines Risk Mitigation Considerations for Bond Market Participants During Transition From LIBOR
The U.K. Working Group on Sterling Risk-Free Reference Rates has published a paper to raise awareness among market participants of some of the current market uncertainties surrounding issuance of long-dated bonds referencing LIBOR. The Working Group is tasked with helping to bring about broad-based transition to the Sterling Overnight Index Average rate by end-2021 across Sterling bond, loan and derivative markets. SONIA has been selected as the preferred alternative risk-free rate for Sterling and, among other work, the Working Group is in the process of developing market conventions for SONIA-linked bonds. A key milestone for the Working Group will be its publication, later in 2018, of best practice for referencing SONIA in bond markets.
In the paper, the Working Group outlines some of the risks faced by bond market participants who are continuing to issue, offer and purchase new Sterling bonds referencing LIBOR, in particular where those bonds are long-dated. "Long-dated" refers to bonds set to mature beyond the end of 2021, when banks' commitments to submit data for purposes of LIBOR are due to end. The Working Group suggests certain steps market participants could take to mitigate some of the risks arising where LIBOR continues to be referenced in new Sterling bonds issued in the interim period before market conventions and infrastructure for referencing alternatives to LIBOR are fully developed.
View the paper.
US Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Randal Quarles Discusses the SOFR Reference Rate
U.S. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System Vice Chairman for Supervision, Randal Quarles, discussed the evolution of reference rates at the Alternative Reference Rates Committee (ARRC) Roundtable at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Vice Chairman Quarles stated his view that certain markets relevant to some LIBOR tenors are relatively illiquid. He contrasted this with the newly established secured overnight financing rate (SOFR). SOFR is the product of a collaborative effort by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Federal Reserve Board and the U.S. Office of Financial Research, and was created in response to the ARRC's interest in establishing a Treasury repo rate benchmark that would span the widest possible scope of the market. Vice Chairman Quarles further noted that the implementation timetable for SOFR is ahead of schedule, that market participants have begun offering clearing of SOFR overnight index and basis swaps, and that futures markets for SOFR have been introduced on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
View full text of Vice Chairman Quarles’s remarks.
Bank of England Consults on Term SONIA Reference Rates
The Bank of England's Working Group on Risk-Free Reference Rates has launched a consultation on term reference rates for the Sterling Overnight Index Average.
The Working Group is tasked with facilitating the transition across sterling bond, loan and derivatives markets from the use of sterling LIBOR to the use of SONIA. The Working Group notes that SONIA is an overnight rate, while LIBOR is commonly referenced in longer tenors of three or six months. Some end-users in loan and debt capital markets have reported that term rates are essential for their business needs.
Financial Stability Board Welcomes ISDA Consultation on Fall Backs Risk-Free Rates for Derivatives
The Financial Stability Board has published a statement welcoming the consultation by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association on fall backs based on overnight risk-free rates for certain derivative contracts. The statement has been issued to provide market participants with the FSB's views ahead of the consultation by ISDA. The FSB's view is that overnight RFRs are more robust than interbank or term rates because they are based on active and liquid underlying markets. Overnight RFRs are considered by the FSB to be a better choice than term rates for markets where participants do not need forward-looking term rates. The FSB stated that for those markets where the IBOR may cease, citing the example of LIBOR, a transition to new reference rates will be crucial. The FSB acknowledges the work to reform some IBORS excluding LIBOR. It is therefore unclear whether the FSB has factored in the recently announced changes to LIBOR methodology in making this assessment and reaching these conclusions.
International Swaps and Derivatives Association Consults on Fall Backs Based on Overnight Risk-Free Rates for Certain Derivatives
The International Swaps and Derivatives Association has launched a consultation in which it proposes to amend its standard documentation to implement fall-backs based on alternative risk-free rates for certain key Interbank Offered Rates - GBP LIBOR, CHF LIBOR, JPY LIBOR, TIBOR, Euroyen TIBOR and BBSW. ISDA states that the back-ups will apply if the relevant IBOR is permanently discontinued, based on defined triggers.
ISDA is seeking feedback on the approach to address certain technical issues arising from the necessary adjustments that will apply to the RFRs if the fall backs are triggered.
ISDA intends to consult on the technical issues for these changes for derivatives referencing USD LIBOR, EUR LIBOR and EURIBOR at a later date. It requests preliminary feedback on the technical issues associated with fall-backs for these benchmarks in this consultation.
Responses to the consultation should be submitted by October 12, 2018. ISDA will determine which approach to adopt based on the feedback and will publish the final approach for review and comment before implementing any changes to the ISDA standard documentation.
The FSB issued a statement on the same day welcoming ISDA's consultation and encouraging market participants to respond to the proposals.
View ISDA's consultation.
View details of the FSB's statement.
European Money Markets Institute Confirms Certain Changes for Euribor
The European Money Markets Institute has published a feedback summary report on its March 2018 consultation on a hybrid determination methodology for the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (Euribor). EMMI is the administrator for Euribor, a major euro interest reference rate for unsecured interbank short-term lending and borrowing. Euribor was classed as a critical benchmark of systemic importance for financial stability by the European Commission in 2016.
EMMI consulted on: (i) introducing a three-level "hybrid" methodology for calculating Euribor; (ii) producing an overnight tenor for Euribor following the implementation of the hybrid methodology; (iii) discontinuing the calculation of three of the eight tenors; (iv) clarifying Euribor's underlying interest; (v) ceasing the publication of individual Panel Banks' submissions; and (vi) simplifying the publication process.
European Central Bank Consults on Assessing Potential Successors to the EONIA Benchmark
The European Central Bank has published a consultation on behalf of the Working Group on Euro Risk-Free Rates. The ECB provides the secretariat for this Working Group. The Working Group is tasked, among other things, with identifying and recommending alternatives to Euro lending benchmark rates, namely EURIBOR and EONIA.
The administrator of EONIA announced in February 2018 that, due to prolonged structural change in the underlying interbank lending market that uses EONIA as a benchmark, EONIA's compliance with the EU Benchmarks Regulation by January 2020 "cannot be warranted" and that the ongoing review of EONIA would therefore be discontinued. The consultation invites comments on three euro risk-free rates that could potentially replace EONIA. These are:
- The euro short-term rate (ESTER), a new wholesale unsecured overnight bank borrowing rate that the ECB proposes to launch before 2020;
- GC Pooling Deferred, a one-day secured, centrally cleared, general collateral repo rate, which is produced by STOXX, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Deutsche Börse Group; and
- RepoFunds Rate, a one-day secured, centrally cleared, combined general and specific collateral repo rate, which is produced by NEX Data Services Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of NEX Group plc, soon to be acquired by CME Group.
European Money Markets Institute Announces Cessation of Three Euribor Tenors
The European Money Markets Institute has announced the planned cessation of three of the current tenors for the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (Euribor). EMMI is the administrator for Euribor, a major euro interest reference rate for unsecured interbank short-term lending and borrowing. Euribor was classed as a critical benchmark of systemic importance for financial stability by the European Commission in 2016.
EMMI published a consultation paper in March 2018 seeking views from stakeholders on a proposed hybrid determination methodology for Euribor that will transition Euribor away from a quote-based to a transaction-based methodology. As part of that consultation, EMMI sought feedback on whether to discontinue the calculation and publication of three of the eight tenors it publishes, due to low levels of activity underpinning the markets those tenors represent. The majority of respondents to the consultation supported the discontinuation of the two week, two month and nine month tenors and consequently EMMI will proceed with its proposal.
EURIBOR Administrator Starts 3-Month Testing Phase for Hybrid Methodology
The European Money Markets Institute has announced the start of the testing phase for a new hybrid methodology it proposes to introduce to determine Euribor. The testing phase will run from May 2, 2018 to July 31, 2018.
EMMI launched a consultation on the introduction of the hybrid methodology and on some related issues in March 2018. That consultation closes on May 15, 2018 and EMMI intends to publish a summary of responses in June 2018.
The testing phase will involve EMMI conducting data analysis and assessing the methodology's parameters. EMMI hopes to gain a better understanding of panel banks' overall contribution patterns and how they make submissions using Level 3 of three-level "hybrid" methodology. Based on the results, EMMI will launch a second consultation in Q3 2018.
It is intended that the new hybrid methodology will be launched by Q4 2019 at the latest, in line with the transitional period provided by the EU Benchmarks Regulation.
View the EMMI announcement.
View details of the March 2018 consultation.