Thursday, June 19, 2008

Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000: The cuprit for high oil prices

Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000

The ghost of Enron returns . . .

As that US Senate report noted, “Until recently, US energy futures were traded exclusively on regulated exchanges within the United States, like the NYMEX, which are subject to extensive oversight by the CFTC, including ongoing monitoring to detect and prevent price manipulation or fraud. In recent years, however, there has been a tremendous growth in the trading of contracts that look and are structured just like futures contracts, but which are traded on unregulated OTC electronic markets. Because of their similarity to futures contracts they are often called 'futures look-alikes.'
"The only practical difference between futures look-alike contracts and futures contracts is that the look-alikes are traded in unregulated markets whereas futures are traded on regulated exchanges. The trading of energy commodities by large firms on OTC electronic exchanges was exempted from CFTC oversight by a provision inserted at the behest of Enron and other large energy traders into the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 in the waning hours of the 106th Congress.<>"The impact on market oversight has been substantial. NYMEX traders, for example, are required to keep records of all trades and report large trades to the CFTC. These Large Trader Reports, together with daily trading data providing price and volume information, are the CFTC’s primary tools to gauge the extent of speculation in the markets and to detect, prevent, and prosecute price manipulation. CFTC Chairman Reuben Jeffrey recently stated: 'The Commission’s Large Trader information system is one of the cornerstones of our surveillance program and enables detection of concentrated and coordinated positions that might be used by one or more traders to attempt manipulation.'
"In contrast to trades conducted on the NYMEX, traders on unregulated OTC electronic exchanges are not required to keep records or file Large Trader Reports with the CFTC, and these trades are exempt from routine CFTC oversight. In contrast to trades conducted on regulated futures exchanges, there is no limit on the number of contracts a speculator may hold on an unregulated OTC electronic exchange, no monitoring of trading by the exchange itself, and no reporting of the amount of outstanding contracts (open interest) at the end of each day.” [1]

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Brewing War Against Web Advertising

"War against the Web"

Randall Rothenberg, President & CEO of Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) warned us all that legislation is pending in both NYS and CT's legislature that could destroy the Ad Rev opportunities for web based pubs by requiring that all users be given the option of Opting Out of any advertising that may appear on their screen. Furthermore, the legislation would outlaw the collection of any user data (i.e. basic marketing info, ect). Worse yet, this legislation is being promulgated by legislators who at best have only a scant understanding of what they are doing and are being driven by the misguided and errant outcry's from such organizations as The Center for Digital Democracy and the likes of Penn's Prof Turow; both of whom are positioning web-based advertisers as the scourge of our nation. Their claims are ridiculous and would be laughable were in not for the fact that legislation is pending that could potentially wreak havoc in the on-line Ad rev business world; action is essential.

The best way to fight this idiocy is to contact NY and CT state legislatures to inform them of the damage such legislation could offer. Would they ban ads from newspapers and magazines? Why the web.