[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 219 (Tuesday, November 13, 2018)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 56666-56693]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-24579]



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Vol. 83

Tuesday,

No. 219

November 13, 2018

Part IV





Commodity Futures Trading Commission





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17 CFR Part 1





De Minimis Exception to the Swap Dealer Definition; Final Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 83 , No. 219 / Tuesday, November 13, 2018 / 
Rules and Regulations

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COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION

17 CFR Part 1

RIN 3038-AE68


De Minimis Exception to the Swap Dealer Definition

AGENCY: Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (``Commission'' or 
``CFTC'') is amending the de minimis exception within the ``swap 
dealer'' definition in the Commission's regulations by setting the 
aggregate gross notional amount threshold for the de minimis exception 
at $8 billion in swap dealing activity entered into by a person over 
the preceding 12 months.

DATES: This rule is effective November 13, 2018.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Matthew Kulkin, Director, 202-418-
5213, mkulkin@cftc.gov, Rajal Patel, Associate Director, 202-418-5261, 
rpatel@cftc.gov, or Jeffrey Hasterok, Data and Risk Analyst, 646-746-
9736, jhasterok@cftc.gov, Division of Swap Dealer and Intermediary 
Oversight; Bruce Tuckman, Chief Economist, 202-418-5624, 
btuckman@cftc.gov or Scott Mixon, Associate Director, 202-418-5771, 
smixon@cftc.gov, Office of the Chief Economist; or Mark Fajfar, 
Assistant General Counsel, 202-418-6636, mfajfar@cftc.gov, Office of 
General Counsel, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Three Lafayette 
Centre, 1155 21st Street, NW, Washington, DC 20581.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Table of Contents

I. Background
    A. Statutory and Regulatory Background
    1. Statutory Authority
    2. Regulatory History
    3. Policy Considerations
    4. De Minimis Calculation
    B. The Proposal
II. Final Rule--$8 Billion Threshold
    A. Proposal
    B. Summary of Comments
    1. Set Threshold at $8 Billion
    2. Increase Threshold
    3. Allow Threshold to Decrease
    4. Other Comments
    C. Final Rule and Commission Response
    1. Rationale for Not Reducing AGNA Threshold to $3 Billion
    2. Rationale for Not Increasing AGNA Threshold
    3. Response to Other Comments
III. Proposed Rule Amendments Not Adopted
    A. Swaps Entered into by Insured Depository Institutions in 
Connection With Loans to Customers
    1. Proposal
    2. Summary of Comments
    3. Commission Response
    B. Swaps Entered Into to Hedge Financial or Physical Positions
    1. Proposal
    2. Summary of Comments
    3. Commission Response
    C. Swaps Resulting From Multilateral Portfolio Compression 
Exercises
    1. Proposal
    2. Summary of Comments
    3. Commission Response
    D. Methodology for Calculating Notional Amounts
    1. Proposal
    2. Summary of Comments
    3. Commission Response
IV. Other Matters Discussed in NPRM
    A. Dealing Counterparty Count and Dealing Transaction Count 
Thresholds
    B. Exception for Exchange-Traded and/or Cleared Swaps
    C. Exception for Non-Deliverable Forwards
V. Related Matters
    A. Regulatory Flexibility Act
    B. Paperwork Reduction Act
    C. Cost-Benefit Considerations
    1. General Costs and Benefits
    2. Direct Cost and Benefits
    3. Section 15(a)
    D. Antitrust Considerations

I. Background

A. Statutory and Regulatory Background

1. Statutory Authority
    Title VII of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer 
Protection Act (``Dodd-Frank Act'') \1\ established a statutory 
framework to reduce risk, increase transparency, and promote market 
integrity within the financial system by regulating the swap market. 
Among other things, the Dodd-Frank Act amended the Commodity Exchange 
Act (``CEA'') \2\ to provide for the registration and regulation of 
swap dealers (``SDs'').\3\ The Dodd-Frank Act directed the CFTC and the 
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (``SEC'' and together with the 
CFTC, ``Commissions'') to jointly further define, among other things, 
the term ``swap dealer,'' \4\ and to exempt from designation as an SD a 
person that engages in a de minimis quantity of swap dealing.\5\
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    \1\ Public Law 111-203, 124 Stat. 1376 (2010), available at 
https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-111publ203/pdf/PLAW-111publ203.pdf.
    \2\ The CEA is found at 7 U.S.C. 1, et seq.
    \3\ See generally 7 U.S.C. 6s.
    \4\ Dodd-Frank Act section 712(d)(1). See the definitions of 
``swap dealer'' in CEA section 1a(49) and Sec.  1.3 of Commission 
regulations. 7 U.S.C. 1a(49); 17 CFR 1.3.
    \5\ See Dodd-Frank Act section 721.
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    CEA section 1a(49) defines the term ``swap dealer'' to include any 
person who: (1) Holds itself out as a dealer in swaps; (2) makes a 
market in swaps; (3) regularly enters into swaps with counterparties as 
an ordinary course of business for its own account; or (4) engages in 
any activity causing the person to be commonly known in the trade as a 
dealer or market maker in swaps (collectively referred to as ``swap 
dealing,'' ``swap dealing activity,'' or ``dealing activity'').\6\ The 
statute also requires the Commission to promulgate regulations to 
establish factors with respect to the making of a determination to 
exempt from designation as an SD an entity engaged in a de minimis 
quantity of swap dealing.\7\ CEA section 1a(49) further provides that 
in no event shall an insured depository institution (``IDI'') be 
considered to be an SD to the extent it offers to enter into a swap 
with a customer in connection with originating a loan with that 
customer.\8\
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    \6\ 7 U.S.C. 1a(49)(A). In general, a person that satisfies any 
one of these prongs is deemed to be engaged in swap dealing 
activity. See also the definitions of ``swap'' in CEA section 1a(47) 
and Sec.  1.3 of Commission regulations. 7 U.S.C. 1a(47); 17 CFR 
1.3.
    \7\ 7 U.S.C. 1a(49)(D).
    \8\ 7 U.S.C. 1a(49)(A).
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2. Regulatory History
    Pursuant to the statutory requirements, in December 2010, the 
Commissions issued a proposing release (``SD Definition Proposing 
Release'') \9\ further defining, among other things, the term ``swap 
dealer.'' Subsequently, in May 2012, the Commissions issued an adopting 
release (``SD Definition Adopting Release'') \10\ further defining, 
among other things, the term ``swap dealer'' in Sec.  1.3 of the CFTC's 
regulations (``SD Definition'') and providing for a de minimis 
exception in paragraph (4) therein (``De Minimis Exception'').\11\ The 
De Minimis Exception states that a person shall not be deemed to be an 
SD unless its swaps connected with swap dealing activities exceed an 
aggregate gross notional amount (``AGNA'') threshold of $3 billion 
(measured over the prior 12-month period), subject to a phase-in period 
during which the AGNA

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threshold is set at $8 billion.\12\ The phase-in period was originally 
scheduled to terminate on December 31, 2017, and the AGNA threshold was 
scheduled to decrease to $3 billion at that time. However, as discussed 
below, pursuant to paragraph (4)(ii)(C)(1) of the De Minimis Exception, 
the Commission issued two successive orders to set new termination 
dates, and the phase-in period is currently scheduled to terminate on 
December 31, 2019.\13\
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    \9\ Further Definition of ``Swap Dealer,'' ``Security-Based Swap 
Dealer,'' ``Major Swap Participant,'' ``Major Security-Based Swap 
Participant'' and ``Eligible Contract Participant,'' 75 FR 80174 
(proposed Dec. 21, 2010).
    \10\ Further Definition of ``Swap Dealer,'' ``Security-Based 
Swap Dealer,'' ``Major Swap Participant,'' ``Major Security-Based 
Swap Participant'' and ``Eligible Contract Participant,'' 77 FR 
30596 (May 23, 2012).
    \11\ See 17 CFR 1.3, Swap dealer. As discussed in more detail in 
section II, the Commission notes that a joint rulemaking with the 
SEC is not required to amend the De Minimis Exception, pursuant to 
paragraph (4)(v) of the De Minimis Exception. See 17 CFR 1.3, Swap 
dealer, paragraph (4)(v); 77 FR at 30634 n.464.
    \12\ 17 CFR 1.3, Swap dealer, paragraph (4)(i)(A). Paragraph 
(4)(i)(A) also provides for a de minimis threshold of $25 million 
with regard to swaps in which the counterparty is a ``special 
entity'' (excluding ``utility special entities'' as provided in 
paragraph (4)(i)(B) of the De Minimis Exception) as defined in CEA 
section 4s(h)(2)(C), 7 U.S.C. 6s(h)(2)(C). This final rule would not 
change the AGNA threshold for swaps with special entities.
    \13\ See Order Establishing De Minimis Threshold Phase-In 
Termination Date, 81 FR 71605 (Oct. 18, 2016); Order Establishing a 
New De Minimis Threshold Phase-In Termination Date, 82 FR 50309 
(Oct. 31, 2017).
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    When the $3 billion AGNA threshold was established, the Commissions 
explained that the information then available regarding certain 
portions of the swap market was limited, and that they expected more 
information to be available in the future (following the implementation 
of swap data reporting), which would enable the Commissions to make a 
more informed assessment of the De Minimis Exception and to revise it 
as appropriate.\14\ In recognition of these limitations and in 
anticipation of additional swap market data becoming available to the 
CFTC through the reporting of transactions to swap data repositories 
(``SDRs''), paragraph (4)(ii)(B) of the De Minimis Exception was 
adopted, which directed CFTC staff to complete and publish for public 
comment a report on topics relating to the definition of the term 
``swap dealer'' and the de minimis threshold as appropriate, based on 
the availability of data and information.\15\ Paragraph (4)(ii)(C) of 
the De Minimis Exception provided that after giving due consideration 
to the staff report and any associated public comment, the CFTC may 
either set a termination date for the phase-in period or issue a notice 
of proposed rulemaking to modify the De Minimis Exception.\16\
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    \14\ See SD Definition Adopting Release, 77 FR 30632-34. In 
making their determination, the Commissions considered the limited 
and incomplete swap market data that was available at that time and 
concluded that the $3 billion level appropriately considers the 
relevant regulatory goals. Id. at 30632. The Commissions found merit 
in determining the threshold by multiplying the estimated size of 
the domestic swap market by a 0.001 percent ratio suggested by 
several commenters. Id. at 30633.
    \15\ 17 CFR 1.3, Swap dealer, paragraph (4)(ii)(B).
    \16\ 17 CFR 1.3, Swap dealer, paragraph (4)(ii)(C).
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    In November 2015, staff issued a preliminary report concerning the 
De Minimis Exception (``Preliminary Staff Report'').\17\ After 
consideration of the public comments received in response to the 
Preliminary Staff Report,\18\ and further data analysis, in August 2016 
staff issued a final staff report \19\ concerning the De Minimis 
Exception (``Final Staff Report,'' and together with the Preliminary 
Staff Report, ``Staff Reports''). The data analysis in the Staff 
Reports provided some insights into the effectiveness of the De Minimis 
Exception as currently implemented. For example, staff analyzed the 
number of swap transactions involving at least one registered SD,\20\ 
which is indicative of the extent to which swaps are subject to SD 
regulation at the current $8 billion AGNA threshold. Data reviewed for 
the Final Staff Report indicated that approximately 96 percent of swap 
transactions analyzed involved at least one registered SD.
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    \17\ See Swap Dealer De Minimis Exception Preliminary Report 
(Nov. 18, 2015), available at http://www.cftc.gov/idc/groups/public/@swaps/documents/file/dfreport_sddeminis_1115.pdf. For the 
Preliminary Staff Report, staff analyzed data from April 1, 2014 
through March 31, 2015.
    \18\ The comment letters are available on the Commission website 
at http://comments.cftc.gov/PublicComments/CommentList.aspx?id=1634.
    \19\ See Swap Dealer De Minimis Exception Final Staff Report 
(Aug. 15, 2016), available at http://www.cftc.gov/idc/groups/public/@swaps/documents/file/dfreport_sddeminis081516.pdf. For the Final 
Staff Report, staff analyzed data from April 1, 2015 through March 
31, 2016.
    \20\ Given that all of the CEA section 4s requirements have not 
yet been implemented by regulation, the term ``registered SD'' 
refers to an entity that is a provisionally registered SD. See 17 
CFR 3.2(c)(3)(iii).
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    To provide additional time for more information to become available 
to study the De Minimis Exception, in October 2016 the Commission 
issued an order, pursuant to paragraph (4)(ii)(C)(1) of the De Minimis 
Exception, establishing December 31, 2018, as the new termination date 
for the $8 billion phase-in period.\21\ To enable staff to conduct 
additional analysis, in October 2017 the Commission further extended 
the phase-in period to December 31, 2019.\22\ Generally, the extensions 
provided additional time for Commission staff to conduct further data 
analysis regarding the De Minimis Exception, and gave market 
participants additional time to begin preparing for a change, if any, 
to the AGNA threshold.
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    \21\ 81 FR 71605.
    \22\ 82 FR 50309.
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3. Policy Considerations
(i) Swap Dealer Registration Policy Considerations
    The policy goals underlying SD registration and regulation 
generally include reducing systemic risk, increasing counterparty 
protections, and increasing market efficiency, orderliness, and 
transparency.
    Reducing systemic risk: The Dodd-Frank Act was enacted in the wake 
of the financial crisis of 2008, in significant part, to reduce 
systemic risk, including the risk to the broader U.S. financial system 
created by interconnections in the swap market.\23\ Pursuant to the 
Dodd-Frank Act, the Commission has adopted regulations designed to 
mitigate the potential systemic risk inherent in the previously 
unregulated swap market.\24\
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    \23\ Dodd-Frank Act, Preamble (indicating that the purpose of 
the Dodd-Frank Act was to promote the financial stability of the 
United States by improving accountability and transparency in the 
financial system, to end ``too big to fail,'' to protect the 
American taxpayer by ending bailouts, to protect consumers from 
abusive financial services practices, and for other purposes). See 
also De Minimis Exception to the Swap Dealer Definition, 83 FR 
27444, 27446 (proposed June 12, 2018).
    \24\ For example, registered SDs have specific requirements for 
risk management programs and margin. See, e.g., 17 CFR 23.600; 17 
CFR 23.150-23.161.
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    Increasing counterparty protections: Providing regulatory 
protections for swap counterparties who may be less experienced or 
knowledgeable about the swap products offered by SDs (particularly end-
users who use swaps for hedging or investment purposes) is a 
fundamental policy goal advanced by the regulation of SDs.\25\ The 
Commissions recognized that a narrower or smaller de minimis exception 
would increase the number of counterparties that could potentially 
benefit from those regulatory protections.\26\
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    \25\ For example, registered SDs are subject to external 
business conduct standard regulations designed to provide 
counterparty protections. See, e.g., 17 CFR 23.400-23.451.
    \26\ SD Definition Adopting Release, 77 FR 30628 (``On the one 
hand, a de minimis exception, by its nature, will eliminate key 
counterparty protections provided by Title VII for particular users 
of swaps and security-based swaps.''). See also 83 FR 27446.
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    Increasing market efficiency, orderliness, and transparency: 
Increasing swap market efficiency, orderliness, and transparency is 
another goal of SD regulation.\27\ Regulations

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requiring SDs, for example, to keep detailed daily trading records, 
report trade information, and engage in portfolio reconciliation and 
compression exercises help achieve these market benefits.\28\
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    \27\ 77 FR 30629 (``The statutory requirements that apply to 
swap dealers . . . include requirements . . . aimed at helping to 
promote effective operation and transparency of the swap . . . 
markets.''). See id. at 30703 (``Those who engage in swaps with 
entities that elude swap dealer or major swap participant status and 
the attendant regulations could be exposed to increased counterparty 
risk; customer protection and market orderliness benefits that the 
regulations are intended to provide could be muted or sacrificed, 
resulting in increased costs through reduced market integrity and 
efficiency. . . .''). See also 83 FR 27446.
    \28\ See, e.g., 17 CFR 23.200-23.205; 17 CFR parts 43 and 45; 17 
CFR 23.502-23.503.
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(ii) De Minimis Exception Policy Considerations
    Consistent with Congressional intent, ``an appropriately calibrated 
de minimis exception has the potential to advance other interests.'' 
\29\ These interests include increasing efficiency, allowing limited 
swap dealing in connection with other client services, encouraging new 
participants to enter the market, and focusing regulatory 
resources.\30\ The policy objectives underlying the de minimis 
exception are designed to encourage participation and competition by 
allowing persons to engage in a de minimis amount of dealing without 
incurring the costs of registration and regulation.\31\
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    \29\ See 77 FR 30628. See also 83 FR 27446.
    \30\ See 77 FR 30628-30, 30707-08. See also 83 FR 27446-47.
    \31\ In considering the appropriate de minimis threshold, 
``exclud[ing] entities whose dealing activity is sufficiently modest 
in light of the total size, concentration and other attributes of 
the applicable markets can be useful in avoiding the imposition of 
regulatory burdens on those entities for which dealer regulation 
would not be expected to contribute significantly to advancing the 
customer protection, market efficiency and transparency objectives 
of dealer regulation.'' 77 FR 30629-30. See also 83 FR 27446-47.
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    Increasing efficiency: A de minimis exception based on an objective 
test with a limited degree of complexity enables entities to engage in 
a lower level of swap dealing with limited concerns about whether their 
activities would require registration.\32\ The de minimis exception 
thereby fosters efficient application of the SD Definition. 
Additionally, the Commission is of the view that the potential for 
regular or periodic changes to the de minimis threshold may reduce its 
efficacy by making it challenging for persons to calibrate their swap 
dealing activity as appropriate for their business models. Further, the 
Commission is mindful that objective, predictable standards in the de 
minimis exception increase efficiency by establishing a simple test for 
whether a person's swaps connected with swap dealing activity must be 
included in the de minimis calculation. On the other hand, more 
complexity in the de minimis calculation potentially results in less 
efficiency.\33\
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    \32\ 77 FR 30628-29 (``[T]he de minimis exception may further 
the interest of regulatory efficiency when the amount of a person's 
dealing activity is, in the context of the relevant market, limited 
to an amount that does not warrant registration. . . . In addition, 
the exception can provide an objective test . . . .''). See also 83 
FR 27446-47.
    \33\ 77 FR 30707-08 (``On the other hand, requiring market 
participants to consider more variables in evaluating application of 
the de minimis exception would likely increase their costs to make 
this determination.''). See also 83 FR 27446-47.
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    Allowing limited ancillary dealing: A de minimis exception allows 
persons to accommodate existing clients that have a need for swaps (on 
a limited basis) along with other services.\34\ This enables end-users 
to continue transacting within existing business relationships, for 
example to hedge interest rate or currency risk.
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    \34\ 77 FR 30629, 30707-08. See also 83 FR 27447.
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    Encouraging new participants: A de minimis exception also promotes 
competition by allowing a person to engage in some swap dealing 
activities without immediately incurring the regulatory costs 
associated with SD registration and regulation.\35\ Without a de 
minimis exception, SD regulation could become a barrier to entry that 
may stifle competition. An appropriately calibrated de minimis 
exception could lower the barrier to entry of becoming an SD by 
allowing smaller participants to gradually expand their business until 
the scope and scale of their activity warrants regulation (and the 
costs involved with compliance).
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    \35\ 77 FR 30629. See also 83 FR 27447.
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    Focusing regulatory resources: Finally, the de minimis exception 
also increases regulatory efficiency by enabling the Commission to 
focus its limited resources on entities whose swap dealing activity is 
sufficient in size and scope to warrant oversight.\36\
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    \36\ 77 FR 30628-29. See also 83 FR 27447.
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    As noted in the SD Definition Adopting Release, ``implementing the 
de minimis exception requires a careful balancing that considers the 
regulatory interests that could be undermined by an unduly broad 
exception as well as those regulatory interests that may be promoted by 
an appropriately limited exception.'' \37\ A narrower de minimis 
exception would likely mean that a greater number of entities would be 
required to register as SDs and become subject to the regulatory 
framework applicable to registered SDs. However, a de minimis exception 
that is too narrow could, for example, discourage persons from engaging 
in limited swap dealing activity in order to avoid the burdens 
associated with SD regulation.
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    \37\ 77 FR 30628. See SD Definition Proposing Release, 75 FR 
80179 (The de minimis exception ``should apply only when an entity's 
dealing activity is so minimal that applying dealer regulations to 
the entity would not be warranted.''). See also 83 FR 27447.
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4. De Minimis Calculation
    Generally, a person must count towards its AGNA threshold all swaps 
it enters into for dealing purposes over the preceding 12-month period. 
In addition, each person whose own swaps do not exceed the AGNA 
threshold must also include in its de minimis calculation the AGNA of 
swaps of any other unregistered affiliate controlling, controlled by, 
or under common control with that person (referred to as 
``aggregation'').\38\
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    \38\ 17 CFR 1.3, Swap dealer, paragraph (4)(i)(A); Interpretive 
Guidance and Policy Statement Regarding Compliance With Certain Swap 
Regulations, 78 FR 45292, 45323 (July 26, 2013). See also 83 FR 
27447.
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    Pursuant to various CFTC regulations, certain swaps, subject to 
specific conditions, need not be considered in determining whether a 
person is an SD, including: (1) Swaps entered into by an IDI with a 
customer in connection with originating a loan to that customer; \39\ 
(2) swaps between affiliates; \40\ (3) swaps entered into by a 
cooperative with its members; \41\ (4) swaps hedging physical 
positions; \42\ (5) swaps entered into by floor traders; \43\ (6) 
certain foreign exchange (``FX'') swaps and FX forwards; \44\ and (7) 
commodity trade options.\45\ In addition, the Commission understands 
that persons have applied CFTC interpretive guidance and staff letters 
so as not to count towards the AGNA threshold, subject to certain 
conditions, certain cross-border swaps \46\ and swaps resulting from

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multilateral portfolio compression exercises.\47\ Further, certain 
inter-governmental or quasi-governmental international financial 
institutions are not included within the term ``swap dealer.'' \48\
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    \39\ See 17 CFR 1.3, Swap dealer, paragraph (5); 77 FR at 30620-
24. See also 83 FR 27447.
    \40\ See 17 CFR 1.3, Swap dealer, paragraph (6)(i); 77 FR at 
30624-25. See also 83 FR 27447.
    \41\ See 17 CFR 1.3, Swap dealer, paragraph (6)(ii); 77 FR at 
30625-26. See also 83 FR 27447.
    \42\ See 17 CFR 1.3, Swap dealer, paragraph (6)(iii); 77 FR at 
30611-14. See also 83 FR 27447.
    \43\ See 17 CFR 1.3, Swap dealer, paragraph (6)(iv); 77 FR at 
30614. See also 83 FR at 27447. The floor trader exclusion was also 
addressed in no-action relief. See CFTC Staff Letter No. 13-80, No-
Action Relief from Certain Conditions of the Swap Dealer Exclusion 
for Registered Floor Traders (Dec. 23, 2013), available at https://www.cftc.gov/idc/groups/public/@lrlettergeneral/documents/letter/13-80.pdf.
    \44\ See Determination of Foreign Exchange Swaps and Foreign 
Exchange Forwards Under the Commodity Exchange Act, 77 FR 69694, 
69704-05 (Nov. 20, 2012); Further Definition of ``Swap,'' 
``Security-Based Swap,'' and ``Security-Based Swap Agreement''; 
Mixed Swaps; Security-Based Swap Agreement Recordkeeping, 77 FR 
48208, 48253 (Aug. 13, 2012).
    \45\ See 17 CFR 32.3; Commodity Options, 77 FR 25320, 25326 n.39 
(Apr. 27, 2012).
    \46\ See 78 FR 45292; CFTC Letter No. 18-13, No-Action Position: 
Relief for Certain Non-U.S. Persons from Including Swaps with 
International Financial Institutions in Determining Swap Dealer and 
Major Swap Participant Status (May 16, 2018), available at https://www.cftc.gov/sites/default/files/idc/groups/public/%40lrlettergeneral/documents/letter/2018-05/18-13.pdf; CFTC Staff 
Letter No. 12-71, No-Action Relief: U.S. Bank Wholly Owned by 
Foreign Entity May Calculate De Minimis Threshold Without Including 
Activity From Its Foreign Affiliates (Dec. 31, 2012), available at 
https://www.cftc.gov/idc/groups/public/%40lrlettergeneral/documents/letter/12-71.pdf; CFTC Staff Letter No. 12-61, No-Action Relief: 
U.S. Bank Wholly Owned by Foreign Entity May Calculate De Minimis 
Threshold Without Including Activity From Its Foreign Affiliates 
(Dec. 20, 2012), available at https://www.cftc.gov/sites/default/files/idc/groups/public/@lrlettergeneral/documents/letter/12-61.pdf.
    \47\ CFTC Staff Letter No. 12-62, No-Action Relief: Request that 
Certain Swaps Not Be Considered in Calculating Aggregate Gross 
Notional Amount for Purposes of the Swap Dealer De Minimis Exception 
for Persons Engaging in Multilateral Portfolio Compression 
Activities (Dec. 21, 2012), available at https://www.cftc.gov/idc/groups/public/@lrlettergeneral/documents/letter/12-62.pdf.
    \48\ See SD Definition Adopting Release, 77 FR 30693.
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B. The Proposal
    On June 12, 2018, the Commission published for public comment a 
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (``NPRM'') to amend the De Minimis 
Exception by: (1) Setting the AGNA threshold for the De Minimis 
Exception at $8 billion in swap dealing activity entered into by a 
person over the preceding 12 months; (2) adding new factors to the De 
Minimis Exception that would lead to excepting from the AGNA 
calculation: (a) Certain swaps entered into with a customer by an IDI 
in connection with originating a loan to that customer, (b) certain 
swaps entered into to hedge financial or physical positions, and (c) 
certain swaps resulting from multilateral portfolio compression 
exercises; and (3) providing that the Commission may determine the 
methodology to be used to calculate the notional amount for any group, 
category, type, or class of swaps, and delegating to the Director of 
the Division of Swap Dealer and Intermediary Oversight (``DSIO'') the 
authority to make such determinations (collectively, the 
``Proposal'').\49\
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    \49\ 83 FR 27444.
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    In addition, the Commission sought comment on the following 
additional potential changes to the De Minimis Exception: (1) Adding as 
a factor a minimum dealing counterparty count threshold and/or a 
minimum dealing transaction count threshold; (2) adding as a factor 
whether a swap is exchange-traded and/or cleared; and (3) adding as a 
factor whether a swap is categorized as a non-deliverable forward 
transaction.
    The various aspects of the NPRM are discussed in further detail 
below. The Commission received 43 letters and Commission staff 
participated in four ex parte meetings \50\ concerning the NPRM.\51\
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    \50\ Comments were submitted by the following entities: 360 
Trading Networks Inc. (``360 Trading''); American Bankers 
Association (``ABA'') (ABA also attached a report prepared by NERA 
Economic Consulting); American Gas Association (``AGA''); Americans 
for Financial Reform (``AFR''); Associated Foreign Exchange, Inc. 
and GPS Capital Markets, Inc. (``AFEX/GPS''); Association of Global 
Custodians (``AGC''); Better Markets, Inc. (``Better Markets''); 
Bond Dealers of America (``BDA''); Capital One Financial Corporation 
(``Capital One''); Cboe SEF, LLC (``Cboe SEF''); Citizens Financial 
Group, Inc. (``Citizens''); CME Group Inc. and Intercontinental 
Exchange, Inc. (``CME/ICE''); Coalition for Derivatives End-Users 
(``CDEU''); Coalition of Physical Energy Companies (``COPE''); 
Commercial Energy Working Group (``CEWG''); Commodity Markets 
Council (``CMC'') (CMC also expressed support for the CEWG comment 
letter); Covington & Burling LLP (``Covington''); Daiwa Securities 
Co. Ltd. (``Daiwa''); Edison Electric Institute and Electric Power 
Supply Association (``EEI/EPSA''); Foreign Exchange Professionals 
Association (``FXPA''); Frost Bank; Futures Industry Association and 
FIA Principal Traders Group (``FIA''); Institute for Agriculture and 
Trade Policy (``IATP''); Institute of International Bankers 
(``IIB''); International Energy Credit Association (``IECA'') (IECA 
also expressed support for the EEI/EPSA comment letter); 
International Swaps and Derivatives Association and Securities 
Industry and Financial Markets Association (``ISDA/SIFMA''); 
Japanese Bankers Association (``JBA''); M&T Bank (``M&T''); Managed 
Funds Association (``MFA''); National Council of Farmer Cooperatives 
(``NCFC''); National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and 
American Public Power Association (``NRECA/APPA''); Natural Gas 
Supply Association (``NGSA''); NEX Group plc (``NEX''); Northern 
Trust; Optiver US LLC (``Optiver'') (Optiver also expressed support 
for the FIA comment letter); Regions Financial Corp. (``Regions''); 
State Street; SVB Financial Group (``SVB''); Thomson Reuters (SEF) 
LLC (``TR SEF''); six U.S. Senators (``Senators''); Virtu Financial 
Inc. (``Virtu''); Western Union Business Solutions (USA), LLC and 
Custom House USA, LLC (``Western Union''); and XTX Markets Limited 
(``XTX''). Additionally, there were three meetings with Delta 
Strategy Group, DRW, Jump Trading, and Optiver, and one meeting with 
Better Markets. The comment letters and notice of the ex parte 
meetings are available at https://comments.cftc.gov/PublicComments/CommentList.aspx?id=2885.
    \51\ Additionally, in March 2017, Chairman Giancarlo initiated 
an agency-wide internal review of CFTC regulations and practices to 
identify those areas that could be simplified to make them less 
burdensome and costly (``Project KISS''). See Remarks of then-Acting 
Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo before the 42nd Annual 
International Futures Industry Conference in Boca Raton, FL (Mar. 
15, 2017), available at https://www.cftc.gov/PressRoom/SpeechesTestimony/opagiancarlo-20. The Commission subsequently 
published in the Federal Register a Request for Information 
soliciting suggestions from the public regarding how the 
Commission's existing rules, regulations, or practices could be 
applied in a simpler, less burdensome, and less costly manner. A 
number of responses submitted pursuant to the Project KISS Request 
for Information supported modifications to the De Minimis Exception. 
Project KISS, 82 FR 21494 (May 9, 2017), amended by 82 FR 23765 (May 
24, 2017). The suggestion letters filed by the public are available 
at https://comments.cftc.gov/KISS/KissInitiative.aspx.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

II. Final Rule--$8 Billion Threshold

    Given the more complete information now available regarding certain 
portions of the swap market, the data analytical capabilities developed 
since the SD regulations were adopted, five years of implementation 
experience, and comments received in response to the NPRM, in this 
adopting release the Commission is amending the De Minimis Exception by 
setting the AGNA threshold at $8 billion in swap dealing activity. The 
CFTC may in the future separately propose or adopt rules addressing any 
aspect of the NPRM that is not finalized in this release.\52\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \52\ See ICI v. CFTC, 720 F.3d 370, 379 (D.C. Cir. 2013) (``[A]s 
the Supreme Court has emphasized, `[n]othing prohibits federal 
agencies from moving in an incremental manner.' '') (quoting FCC v. 
Fox Television Stations, Inc., 556 U.S. 502, 522 (2009)).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This change to the De Minimis Exception is being adopted pursuant 
to the Commission's authority under CEA section 1a(49)(D), which 
requires the Commission to exempt from designation as an SD an entity 
that engages in a de minimis quantity of swap dealing in connection 
with transactions with or on behalf of its customers, and to promulgate 
regulations to establish factors with respect to the making of this 
determination to exempt.\53\ The Commissions issued the SD Definition 
Adopting Release pursuant to section 712(d)(1) of the Dodd-Frank Act, 
which requires the CFTC and SEC to jointly adopt rules regarding the 
definition of, among other things, the term ``swap dealer.'' The CFTC 
continues to coordinate with the SEC on SD and security-based swap 
dealer regulations. However, as discussed in the SD Definition Adopting 
Release, a joint rulemaking is not required with respect to the De 
Minimis Exception.\54\ The Commission notes that it has consulted with 
the SEC and prudential regulators regarding the change to the De 
Minimis Exception adopted herein.\55\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \53\ 7 U.S.C. 1a(49)(D). See also 17 CFR 1.3, Swap dealer, 
paragraph (4)(v).
    \54\ 77 FR 30634 n.464 (``We do not interpret the joint 
rulemaking provisions of section 712(d) of the Dodd-Frank Act to 
require joint rulemaking here, because such an interpretation would 
read the term ``Commission'' out of CEA section 1a(49)(D) (and 
Exchange Act section 3(a)(71)(D)), which themselves were added by 
the Dodd-Frank Act.'').
    \55\ As required by Sec.  712(a)(1) of the Dodd-Frank Act.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

A. Proposal

    The Commission proposed to amend paragraph (4)(i)(A) of the De 
Minimis Exception by setting the AGNA threshold at $8 billion. For 
added clarity, the Commission also proposed

[[Page 56670]]

to change the term ``swap positions'' to ``swaps'' in paragraph 
(4)(i)(A). Additionally, the Commission proposed to delete a 
parenthetical clause in paragraph (4)(i)(A) referring to the period 
after adoption of the rule further defining the term ``swap,'' and to 
remove and reserve paragraph (4)(ii) of the De Minimis Exception, which 
addresses the phase-in procedure and staff report requirements of the 
De Minimis Exception (discussed above in section I.A.2), since both of 
those provisions would no longer be applicable.
    The Commission proposed to maintain the AGNA threshold at $8 
billion, and also solicited comment on whether to reduce the threshold 
to $3 billion, or increase the threshold. The Commission cited as 
relevant an analysis of SDR data from January 1, 2017, through December 
31, 2017 (the ``review period'').\56\ Given improvements in the quality 
of data being reported to SDRs since the Staff Reports were issued, 
Commission staff analyzed the AGNA of swaps activity for interest rate 
swaps (``IRS''), credit default swaps (``CDS''), FX swaps,\57\ and 
equity swaps (whereas the analysis of AGNA data in the Staff Reports 
was limited to IRS and CDS).\58\ However, given certain limitations 
discussed below, AGNA data was not available for non-financial 
commodity (``NFC'') swaps. In addition to now-available AGNA 
information for FX swaps and equity swaps, there were also continued 
improvements in the consistency of legal entity identifier (``LEI'') 
and unique swap identifier reporting.\59\
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    \56\ See 83 FR 27448-58. The data was sourced from data reported 
to the four registered SDRs: BSDR LLC, Chicago Mercantile Exchange 
Inc., DTCC Data Repository, and ICE Trade Vault. The analysis 
excluded inter-affiliate and non-U.S. transactions. The total size 
of the swap market that was analyzed, after excluding inter-
affiliate and non-U.S. transactions, was approximately $221.1 
trillion in AGNA of swaps activity (excluding non-financial 
commodity swaps), approximately 4.4 million transactions, and 39,107 
counterparties. The Proposal includes additional discussion 
regarding the methodology utilized to conduct the analysis. 83 FR 
27449-50.
    \57\ The term ``FX swaps'' is used in this release to only 
describe those FX transactions that are counted towards a person's 
de minimis calculation. The term ``FX swaps'' does not refer to 
swaps and forwards that are not counted towards the de minimis 
threshold pursuant to the exemption granted by the Secretary of the 
Treasury. See 77 FR at 69704-05; 77 FR 48253.
    \58\ See 83 FR 27449-50; Preliminary Staff Report, supra note 
19, at 21-22; Final Staff Report, supra note 17, at 19.
    \59\ As discussed in the Proposal, certain data restrictions 
limited the usefulness of the SDR data to identify which swaps 
should be counted towards a person's de minimis threshold, and the 
ability to precisely assess the current de minimis threshold or the 
impact of potential changes to the current exclusions. See 83 FR 
27449-50.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Generally employing methodologies similar to those used for 
purposes of the Staff Reports, staff attempted to calculate persons' 
swaps activity in terms of AGNA to assess how the swap market might be 
impacted by potential changes to the current De Minimis Exception. The 
reason an entity enters into a swap (e.g., dealing, hedging, investing, 
proprietary trading) is not collected under the reporting requirements 
in part 45 of the Commission's regulations.\60\ Accordingly, staff 
applied filters to the data to exclude from the analysis certain 
transactions and entities that were less likely to be connected to 
potential swap dealing activity. Entities such as funds, insurance 
companies, cooperatives, government-sponsored entities, most commercial 
end-users, and international financial institutions were excluded as 
potential SDs for the purpose of the analysis because these entities 
generally use swaps for investing, hedging, or proprietary trading, or 
otherwise enter into swaps that would not be included in determining 
whether the entity is an SD.\61\ Further, additional filters allowed 
for the exclusion of inter-affiliate \62\ and non-U.S. to non-U.S. swap 
transactions.\63\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \60\ See 17 CFR part 45 app.1.
    \61\ See supra section I.A.4 (discussing the de minimis 
threshold calculation). The Commission notes that the entity-based 
exclusions and transaction filters are not a determinative means of 
assessing whether any particular entity is engaged in swap dealing. 
See also 83 FR 27449 n.73.
    \62\ See 17 CFR 1.3, Swap dealer, paragraph (6)(i).
    \63\ See generally 78 FR 45292.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    With the benefits of improved data quality and analytical tools, 
staff conducted a more granular analysis (as compared to the Staff 
Reports) to more accurately identify those entities that, based on 
their observable business activities, were potentially engaging in swap 
dealing activity (``In-Scope Entities'') \64\ versus those likely to be 
engaging in other kinds of transactions (e.g., entering into swaps for 
investment purposes). Further, for the purposes of the Proposal, a 
minimum unique counterparty count of 10 counterparties was utilized to 
better identify the entities that are likely to be engaged in 
transactions that have to be considered for the SD Definition. Adding 
this filter to the analysis reduced the likelihood of false positives--
i.e., reduced the potential that entities likely engaged in hedging or 
other non-dealing activity would be identified as potential SDs.\65\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \64\ The majority of In-Scope Entities are banks, broker-
dealers, non-bank financial entities, and affiliates thereof.
    \65\ See 83 FR 27449.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    With respect to NFC swaps, Commission staff encountered a number of 
challenges in calculating notional amounts, including: (1) The vast 
array of underlying commodities with differing characteristics; (2) the 
multiple types of swaps (e.g., fixed-float, basis, options, multi-leg, 
exotic); (3) the variety of data points required to calculate notional 
amounts (e.g., price, quantity, quantity units, location, grades, 
exchange rate); (4) locality-specific terms; and (5) lack of industry 
standards for notional amount-equivalent calculations.\66\ Given the 
limitations in the AGNA data, counterparty counts and transaction 
counts were used as proxies to analyze likely swap dealing activity for 
participants in the NFC swap market.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \66\ See 83 FR 27449-50.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The analysis conducted for the Proposal largely confirmed the 
analysis conducted for the Staff Reports; \67\ however, there is 
greater confidence in the results given the improved data and refined 
methodology. Nonetheless, given the lack of a swap dealing indicator 
for individual swaps, and the lack of an indicator to identify whether 
a specific swap need not be considered in determining whether a person 
is an SD or counted towards the person's AGNA threshold, staff's 
analysis was based on a person's AGNA of swaps activity, as opposed to 
AGNA of swap dealing activity.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \67\ See generally 83 FR 27449-58; Final Staff Report, supra 
note 19; Preliminary Staff Report, supra note 17.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    To assess the relative impact on the swap market of potential 
changes to the De Minimis Exception, CFTC staff analyzed the extent to 
which the swap market was subject to SD regulation during the review 
period because at least one counterparty to a swap was a registered SD 
(``2017 Regulatory Coverage''). Specifically, with regard to 2017 
Regulatory Coverage, staff identified the extent to which: (1) Swaps 
activity, measured in terms of AGNA or transaction count, was subject 
to SD regulation during the review period because at least one 
counterparty to a swap was a registered SD (``2017 AGNA Coverage'' or 
``2017 Transaction Coverage,'' as applicable); and (2) counterparties 
in the swap market transacted with at least one registered SD during 
the review period (``2017 Counterparty Coverage'').
    Additionally, staff estimated regulatory coverage by assessing the 
extent to which the swap market would have been subject to SD 
regulation at different AGNA thresholds because at least one 
counterparty to a swap was identified as a ``Likely SD'' (``Estimated 
Regulatory Coverage''). For purposes of this analysis, the term 
``Likely SD''

[[Page 56671]]

refers to an In-Scope Entity that exceeded a specified AGNA threshold 
level, and traded with at least 10 unique counterparties. With regard 
to Estimated Regulatory Coverage, staff identified the extent to which: 
(1) Swaps activity, measured in terms of AGNA or transaction count, 
would have been subject to SD regulation during the review period, at a 
specified AGNA threshold, because at least one counterparty to a swap 
was identified as a Likely SD at that AGNA threshold (``Estimated AGNA 
Coverage'' or ``Estimated Transaction Coverage,'' as applicable); and 
(2) counterparties in the swap market would have transacted with at 
least one Likely SD during the review period, at a specified AGNA 
threshold (``Estimated Counterparty Coverage'').

B. Summary of Comments

1. Set Threshold at $8 Billion
    Most commenters that addressed this aspect of the Proposal stated 
that the AGNA threshold should not decrease to $3 billion, and/or 
supported setting the threshold at $8 billion.\68\ Some of those 
commenters also stated that the Commission could or should consider a 
higher threshold, as discussed in more detail in section II.B.2 
below.\69\ Commenters generally stated that the policy goals for SD 
registration--reducing systemic risk, increasing counterparty 
protections, and/or increasing market efficiency, orderliness, and 
transparency--and the policy goals for a de minimis exception--
increasing efficiency, allowing limited ancillary dealing, encouraging 
new participants, and/or focusing regulatory resources--would be better 
advanced if the threshold did not decrease to $3 billion.\70\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \68\ See ABA, AGA, AFEX/GPS, BDA, Capital One, Cboe SEF, 
Citizens, CDEU, COPE, CEWG, CMC, EEI/EPSA, FXPA, Frost Bank, FIA, 
IIB, IECA, ISDA/SIFMA, JBA, M&T, NCFC, NRECA/APPA, NGSA, Regions, 
SVB, Virtu, Western Union, and XTX comment letters.
    \69\ See ABA, AFEX/GPS, BDA, Capital One, Citizens, FIA, IIB, 
IECA, JBA, Regions, and SVB comment letters.
    \70\ Additionally, CDEU and CEWG referenced the Congressional 
Directive stating that the Commission should establish a threshold 
of $8 billion or greater within 60 days of enactment of the 
Appropriations Act (i.e., by February 16, 2016), while CEWG also 
cited to the recent recommendation from the U.S. Department of the 
Treasury to set the threshold at $8 billion. See CDEU and CEWG 
comment letters; Accompanying Statement to the Consolidated 
Appropriations Act of 2016, Explanatory Statement Division A at 32 
(Dec. 2015), available at http://docs.house.gov/meetings/RU/RU00/20151216/104298/HMTG-114-RU00-20151216-SD002.pdf; H. Rpt. 114-205 at 
76 (July 14, 2015), available at https://www.congress.gov/114/crpt/hrpt205/CRPT-114hrpt205.pdf; U.S. Department of the Treasury, A 
Financial System That Creates Economic Opportunities--Capital 
Markets (available at https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Documents/A-Financial-System-Capital-Markets-FINAL-FINAL.pdf).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Specifically, commenters stated that a reduced AGNA threshold could 
lead to some entities reducing or ceasing swaps activity to avoid 
registration and its related costs, which could lead to negative 
impacts for swap market participants. For example, fewer de minimis 
dealers could mean that small and mid-sized end-users and commercial 
entities who utilize swaps for hedging purposes, as well as NFC swap 
market participants, would have fewer dealers available to them.\71\ 
The potential negative impacts could include: (1) Increased 
concentration in the swap dealing market; (2) reduced availability of 
potential swap counterparties; (3) reduced liquidity; (4) increased 
volatility; (5) increased systemic risk; and/or (6) higher fees or 
reduced competitive pricing.\72\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \71\ See ABA, AGA, AFEX/GPS, BDA, Capital One, Citizens, CDEU, 
COPE, CEWG, CMC, EEI/EPSA, Frost Bank, IIB, IECA, ISDA/SIFMA, JBA, 
M&T, NCFC, NRECA/APPA, NGSA, SVB, Virtu, and Western Union comment 
letters.
    \72\ See id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Several commenters also noted that the current $8 billion threshold 
already subjects the vast majority of transactions to SD regulation, or 
that a reduced threshold would not capture significant additional 
dealing activity.\73\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \73\ See AGA, BDA, Capital One, CDEU, CMC, Frost Bank, IECA, 
M&T, SVB, and Western Union comment letters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Some commenters stated that the nature of the swaps activity 
entered into by certain entities poses less systemic risk--e.g., 
commercial banks that have swap dealing activity below $8 billion and 
may be subject to prudential banking rules, and entities that primarily 
enter into NFC swaps.\74\ More specifically, Citizens noted that 
prudential regulators examine the safety and soundness of middle-market 
banks' swap businesses, and the swaps offered by these banks are 
structured conservatively to assist customers with hedging activities. 
Further, with respect to counterparty protections, Citizens stated that 
many middle-market banks that would potentially have to register at a 
lower threshold likely already perform, under applicable prudential 
banking rules, know-your-counterparty and suitability analyses of their 
counterparties prior to entering into swaps with them.\75\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \74\ See Citizens, IECA, NRECA/APPA, NGSA, and SVB comment 
letters.
    \75\ See Citizens comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Several commenters stated that maintaining the $8 billion threshold 
provides regulatory stability or alleviates the uncertainty currently 
experienced by market participants with an AGNA of swap dealing 
activity between $3 billion and $8 billion.\76\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \76\ See AFEX/GPS, Capital One, COPE, EEI/EPSA, FXPA, FIA, IECA, 
ISDA/SIFMA, JBA, M&T, NGSA, and Regions comment letters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Some commenters suggested that maintaining the $8 billion threshold 
would enable the Commission to focus its limited resources on entities 
whose swap dealing is sufficient in size and scope to warrant 
oversight.\77\ Two commenters also noted that Commission regulations 
not related to SD registration (e.g., part 43 and 45 reporting 
requirements, and mandatory clearing and swap execution facility 
(``SEF'') trading requirements) already apply to unregistered entities, 
and therefore, many of the policy goals of SD registration are already 
being advanced with respect to swaps entered into by these unregistered 
entities.\78\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \77\ See Citizens, Virtu, and Western Union comment letters.
    \78\ See Citizens and Virtu comment letters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    With respect to NFC swaps, EEI/EPSA and NGSA expressed concern that 
a lower AGNA threshold would provide less accommodation for increasing 
NFC prices, which could lead to market participants reducing their swap 
dealing activity to remain below the threshold.\79\ To address concerns 
regarding volatility in NFC prices, EEI/EPSA also suggested that the 
AGNA threshold be adjusted annually, consistent with the consumer price 
index.\80\ NGSA also stated that the lower regulatory coverage for NFC 
swaps is appropriate given the characteristics of that market.\81\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \79\ See EEI/EPSA and NGSA comment letters. As stated by EEI/
EPSA, if NFC prices increase, the same level of swaps activity will 
potentially have a higher notional amount.
    \80\ See EEI/EPSA comment letter.
    \81\ See NGSA comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A few commenters addressed the compliance costs associated with SD 
registration,\82\ stating that: (1) Establishing an $8 billion 
threshold results in aggregate recurring compliance costs over a 10-
year period, on a net present value basis, of approximately $373 
million; \83\ and (2) the cost of SD registration (e.g., systems build-
out, external advisors, National Futures Association membership dues, 
compliance with margin rules) is underestimated,\84\ with one commenter

[[Page 56672]]

estimating that the initial cost would be approximately $8 to $10 
million per entity, with ongoing costs to meet regulatory requirements 
of $2 million per year thereafter.\85\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \82\ See ABA, IECA, and SVB comment letters. Although addressed 
by ABA and SVB, the costs associated with SD regulatory requirements 
(e.g., margin, reporting, technology, etc.) are not considered in 
the cost-benefit analysis below. See infra notes 249 and 286.
    \83\ See ABA comment letter.
    \84\ See IECA and SVB comment letters. Although outside of the 
scope of this rulemaking, IECA also asserted that the Commission 
underestimates the negative impact on market development due to its 
failure to provide a workable capital rule for non-bank SDs.
    \85\ See SVB comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    BDA stated that the CFTC should clarify whether changes to the De 
Minimis Exception would be applicable to activity that occurred in the 
preceding 12 months.\86\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \86\ See BDA comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

2. Increase Threshold
    Some commenters stated that the Commission should also consider a 
higher AGNA threshold, maintaining generally that the policy goals for 
SD registration and a de minimis exception would be better advanced if 
the threshold was higher than $8 billion.\87\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \87\ See ABA, AFEX/GPS, BDA, Capital One, Citizens, FIA, IIB, 
IECA, JBA, Regions, and SVB comment letters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Specifically, several commenters stated that an increased threshold 
would not lead to a significant decrease in regulatory coverage of swap 
dealing activity.\88\ ABA and AFEX/GPS asserted that a $20 billion 
threshold would result in a trivial or non-consequential reduction in 
Estimated Regulatory Coverage,\89\ and JBA stated that at a $100 
billion threshold, Estimated AGNA Coverage would be almost the 
same.\90\ AFEX/GPS also asserted that the cumulative swaps activity 
conducted by SDs between $8 billion and $20 billion does not pose 
systemic risk, and entities would still be subject to reporting rules 
and recordkeeping requirements.\91\ Additionally, AFEX/GPS and Citizens 
asserted that a decrease in the number of registered SDs would focus 
the Commission's resources on SDs whose dealing activity is sufficient 
in size and scope to warrant greater oversight.\92\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \88\ See ABA, AFEX/GPS, BDA, Citizens, IIB, and SVB comment 
letters.
    \89\ See ABA and AFEX/GPS comment letters.
    \90\ See JBA comment letter.
    \91\ See AFEX/GPS comment letter.
    \92\ See AFEX/GPS and Citizens comment letters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Further, a few commenters stated that given the costs of SD 
registration, a higher threshold would encourage new participants to 
engage in swap dealing activity, which SVB noted as important given the 
highly concentrated nature of the SD market, where the nation's largest 
banks control the vast majority of swap market share.\93\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \93\ See AFEX/GPS, BDA, Citizens, and SVB comment letters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Additionally, ABA indicated that an increased threshold would 
result in aggregate compliance cost savings for market participants. 
For example, AGNA thresholds of $15 billion and $50 billion would 
result in potential aggregate savings of $81 million and $170 million, 
respectively, on a net present value basis, as compared to an $8 
billion threshold.\94\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \94\ See ABA comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

3. Allow Threshold to Decrease
    Better Markets and the Senators stated that the Commission should 
permit the AGNA threshold to decrease to $3 billion, contending 
generally that the data insufficiently or misleadingly justifies 
maintaining the threshold at $8 billion,\95\ and arguing that the 
Proposal did not follow necessary administrative procedures or exceeded 
statutory authority.\96\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \95\ See Better Markets and Senators comment letters.
    \96\ See Better Markets comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Senators stated that though notional amount data for NFC swaps 
was not used in considering the Proposal, the data that was available 
for NFC swaps shows significantly less regulatory coverage under an $8 
billion threshold than in other asset classes. The Senators commented 
that though the Proposal notes the ``unique characteristics'' of NFC 
swaps, the analysis provided to justify the $8 billion threshold 
indicates a series of assumptions and possibilities rather than 
concrete data. The Senators also questioned why, given the lack of 
relevant notional amount data for NFC swaps, it is necessary to 
maintain the $8 billion threshold for SDs involved with energy-related 
swaps.\97\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \97\ See Senators comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Better Markets claimed that the regulatory coverage statistics are 
incomplete, misleading, and irrelevant to the Dodd-Frank Act's 
activities-based standard for SD registration, stating that the high 
AGNA and transaction coverage percentages are not indicative of the 
absolute level of swap dealing activities relevant to SD registration 
under CEA section 1a(49)(A). Further, in connection with the 680 
additional counterparties that would potentially benefit from SD 
regulations under a lower $3 billion threshold, Better Markets asserted 
that expanding counterparty protections to hundreds of market 
participants would have more than a ``limited'' effect on counterparty 
protection once relative statistics are abandoned.\98\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \98\ See Better Markets comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Better Markets also asserted that the data filtering methodology 
was flawed and inadequately explained. Better Markets explained that, 
with respect to the 10 counterparty count filter, if a commodities 
affiliate of a large firm held itself out as an SD or stood ready to 
accommodate the demand of nine counterparties, that affiliate should 
have been treated, for purposes of the analysis, as an SD on account of 
its swap dealing activities, unless those activities did not exceed the 
AGNA threshold or otherwise were excluded from the SD registration 
analysis. Further, Better Markets argued that: (1) The CFTC should have 
provided an opportunity for public comment on the assumptions that were 
made in the CFTC's analysis; (2) there was some ambiguity in the terms 
used in the CFTC's analysis; (3) the CFTC's reliance upon a 10 unique 
counterparty filter was based on fatally flawed logic; (4) the data 
limitations demonstrate the benefits of better field-level and 
affiliate reporting of swaps, which would give the CFTC an informed 
basis to consider changes to the $3 billion threshold; and (5) the CFTC 
must first amend its swap data and chief compliance officer reporting 
regulations to ensure it has sufficient data to provide an informed 
basis for administrative action.\99\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \99\ See id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Further, Better Markets commented that the de minimis threshold 
framework should be revised to focus on strict, observable measures 
like total notional amount or transactional activities, rather than a 
subset of such activities that potential registrants are able to 
interpret for themselves, and are not presently required by regulation 
to monitor, report, or internally track across the firm.\100\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \100\ See id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Better Markets also asserted that the statutory provision regarding 
the de minimis exception authorizes the CFTC to issue exemptive orders 
for individual or similarly-situated legal entities based upon 
generally applicable factors for determining whether such entities may 
be involved in a de minimis amount of swap dealing activities. Better 
Markets noted that it is unreasonable to conclude that Congress 
intended a wholesale exemption from registration that is divorced from 
the particular circumstances of any one petitioner. Further, Better 
Markets argued that the language in the exemptive mandate must be 
construed in a manner that is faithful to Congress' intent that the 
quantity of exempted swap dealing activities be minimal, a concept that 
has boundaries that can be drawn far short of billions of dollars and 
thousands of transactions by unregulated entities.\101\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \101\ See id.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 56673]]

    AFR stated that, though the improved data adds weight to the claim 
that an $8 billion threshold is appropriate for some financial swaps, 
arguments against the $8 billion threshold are particularly strong in 
the case of NFC markets. Specifically, AFR asserted that the Commission 
should be willing to vary the de minimis threshold based on market 
characteristics, and in particular should reduce the $8 billion 
threshold in NFC markets where $8 billion in notional amount represents 
a different level of economic significance than in some other markets. 
AFR elaborated that the Commission continues to lack data on the 
notional amount for NFC swaps, making it difficult to draw definitive 
conclusions on the economic significance of the activity that is not 
subject to SD regulation, and stated that significant dealing activity 
in the NFC market is not subject to SD regulation since roughly half of 
all the entities with 10 or more NFC swap counterparties are not 
registered as SDs.\102\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \102\ See AFR comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    AFR also stated that the AGNA threshold analysis does not account 
for the numerous other exceptions proposed, which could exclude very 
large amounts of swaps activity from being considered in the de minimis 
calculation.\103\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \103\ See id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    IATP stated that the data analysis does not support the idea that 
more ancillary dealing would promote greater competition, and thus more 
efficient and transparent price discovery. IATP asserted that the 
Commission's true motivation for maintaining an $8 billion threshold is 
the regulatory compliance cost and burden reduction objective of 
Project KISS, rather than promoting improved price discovery. Further, 
IATP claimed that the AGNA of activity in the swap market has shrunk 
due to the clearing of swaps on centralized platforms and the migration 
of swaps to the futures markets, not because of constraints of the de 
minimis threshold or because of the lack of exemptions to the 
calculation of that threshold. IATP also stated that though it did not 
have a data-based argument for changing the $8 billion threshold, it 
believed that maintaining the $8 billion threshold because of potential 
administrative burdens involved in lowering the threshold is a poor, 
Project KISS-based, rationale that does not consider the benefits of SD 
registration for the financial integrity and price discovery of the 
swap market.\104\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \104\ See IATP comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

4. Other Comments
(i) Testing Frequency for Threshold
    Some commenters addressed the testing frequency for the threshold. 
Commenters stated that the AGNA threshold calculation should continue 
to be based primarily on a rolling 12-month test of the AGNA of swap 
dealing activity.\105\ Specifically, commenters indicated that: (1) 
Resources have been spent and systems have been built to comply with 
the current approach, and additional changes would add costs with no 
tangible benefit; \106\ and (2) the current test is relatively simple 
to administer, and the 12-month testing period helps to smooth out any 
short-term aberrations in activity and allows for moderation of future 
swap dealing activity to avoid inadvertently triggering an SD 
registration requirement.\107\ However, BDA stated that the CFTC should 
allow entities to test only at the end of every month, which would 
significantly reduce the compliance testing burdens for small and mid-
sized firms.\108\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \105\ See ABA, CMC, Frost Bank, and IECA comment letters.
    \106\ See ABA, CMC, and IECA comment letters.
    \107\ See Frost Bank comment letter.
    \108\ See BDA comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

(ii) Alternatives to Single AGNA Threshold
    A number of commenters addressed whether the Commission should 
consider an alternative to a threshold based on the AGNA of swap 
dealing activity.
    AFR and IECA noted that using AGNA as the relevant criterion for SD 
registration, as compared to other options, is beneficial because: (1) 
Resources have been expended to comply with the current approach, and 
changing that approach would add costs for no perceived benefit; \109\ 
and (2) AGNA provides a stable metric of the gross size of swaps 
commitments that is not reliant on either current market valuations, 
model forecasts, or institutional arrangements such as bankruptcy 
procedures.\110\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \109\ See IECA comment letter.
    \110\ See AFR comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    AFR stated that controlling operational risk, not simply market 
risk, is a major reason for SD designation, and AGNA remains a good 
measure of the total operational risks incurred by an entity,\111\ and 
Better Markets maintained that the de minimis exception must require 
consideration of the quantity of swap dealing, not net exposures or 
other risk-based measures.\112\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \111\ See id.
    \112\ See Better Markets comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    However, IECA indicated that although using an alternative netting 
option (e.g., entity-netted notional amounts) is a reasonable idea and 
could be incorporated into existing analysis, in the NFC markets, 
netting would need to be done as a measure of credit exposure with 
physical and bilateral swaps being able to be offset against each other 
in connection with perceived ``risk exposure'' to a third party.\113\ 
Additionally, ABA and Citizens stated that the Commission should 
consider a risk-based de minimis exception.\114\ ABA asserted that a 
notional amount-based threshold is not the appropriate metric for the 
De Minimis Exception because it is not based on risk, and suggested 
that the Commission consider initial margin as the relevant 
metric.\115\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \113\ See IECA comment letter.
    \114\ See ABA and Citizens comment letters.
    \115\ See ABA comment letter. ABA also suggested that the 
Commission could consider other market risk metrics, such as value 
at risk and sensitivities, as well as credit risk metrics, such as 
total swaps current exposure net of collateral received and largest 
fifteen swap counterparty current exposures net of collateral 
received.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Commenters also stated that a tiered SD registration structure 
should not be considered, noting that a tiered structure could: (1) 
Create more uncertainty for situations where legal and regulatory 
certainty is important; \116\ and (2) subject entities to instability 
and inefficiency relative to a permanent, single AGNA de minimis 
threshold.\117\ On the other hand, IATP asserted that the Commission 
should propose, after further analytic work, a tiered SD registration 
for SDs with a certain threshold of NFC swaps activity (e.g., via 
commodity indexes).\118\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \116\ See IECA comment letter.
    \117\ See JBA comment letter.
    \118\ See IATP comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Several commenters also addressed whether the Commission should 
consider counterparty count and transaction count as additional metrics 
to be included in the de minimis threshold, as discussed in section 
IV.A below.
(iii) Additional Calculation Changes
    Commenters addressed other calculation changes the Commission 
should consider for the de minimis threshold.
    Virtu stated that the CFTC should exempt swap transactions where 
one party is a registered SD or one party holds their account with a 
registered SD since these transactions are already subject to the 
existing reporting

[[Page 56674]]

requirements and, as such, Commission oversight.\119\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \119\ See Virtu comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    JBA stated that the CFTC should specify that the termination and 
modification of terms and conditions of existing transactions do not 
count towards the threshold, noting that termination of transactions 
mitigates counterparty credit risk and reduces the outstanding AGNA of 
swaps.\120\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \120\ See JBA comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    BDA argued that the CFTC should consider increasing the ``special 
entity'' threshold to $100 million in order to provide special entities 
with more access to the marketplace. BDA maintained that the $25 
million threshold results in many mid-sized firms deciding not to enter 
into swaps with special entities, while an increase in that threshold 
could provide better market access for special entities while having no 
material impact on the overall regulation of SDs.\121\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \121\ See BDA comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Virtu asserted that transactions by market makers maintaining net 
open positions not exceeding $1 billion (over a 12-month period) should 
be exempted from the de minimis threshold calculation.\122\ Virtu 
explained that certain market makers do not hold positions or carry 
risk for long periods of time, but rather seek to facilitate efficient 
risk transference to earn a spread and, in doing so, lower costs for 
investors through increased price competition and more transparency in 
the market.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \122\ See Virtu comment letter. Virtu noted that, while in 
aggregate the number of transactions engaged in by market makers 
might exceed the $8 billion threshold, the net risk of these trades 
would not have the same potential impact to overall systemic risk 
because exempt market makers' open net positions in otherwise non-
exempt transactions would be capped at $1 billion over a rolling 12-
month period. Additionally, certain market makers access the market 
through prime brokers--who are registered SDs--and, as such, these 
transactions would be included in the prime brokers' regulatory 
reports and subject to CFTC oversight.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    IIB stated that entities that have discontinued new swap dealing 
activity should not have to count towards their AGNA threshold certain 
transactions that modify legacy swaps entered into by those entities, 
including: (1) Partial or full terminations; (2) modifications that 
shorten the duration of an outstanding swap; (3) partial or full 
novations of legacy swap transactions; or (4) swaps submitted for 
clearing.\123\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \123\ See IIB comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

(iv) Cross-Border Issues
    With respect to cross-border issues, JBA stated that the market has 
been divided into two groups because non-SD entities outside of the 
U.S. avoid transactions with U.S. persons, thereby undermining the 
diversity of U.S. markets.\124\ Additionally, Western Union suggested 
that the Commission should also address the foreign consolidated 
subsidiary rules in the context of the De Minimis Exception 
rulemaking.\125\ Further, IIB stated that the Commission should clarify 
that a swap between a non-U.S. person and a non-U.S. asset manager that 
is subject to post-trade allocation and submitted for clearing, or 
given up to a non-U.S. prime broker prior to being allocated, should 
not count towards the AGNA threshold in certain circumstances.\126\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \124\ See JBA comment letter.
    \125\ See Western Union comment letter (referring to Cross-
Border Application of the Registration Thresholds and External 
Business Conduct Standards Applicable to Swap Dealers and Major Swap 
Participants, 81 FR 71946 (proposed Oct. 18, 2016)). Western Union 
also stated that the proposed application of the foreign 
consolidated subsidiary definition to SD registration is 
inconsistent with principles of international comity and would 
create an unfair competitive disadvantage for certain market 
participants.
    \126\ See IIB comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

C. Final Rule and Commission Response

    Upon consideration of the comments,\127\ the Commission is adopting 
an amendment to paragraph (4)(i)(A) of the De Minimis Exception to set 
the AGNA swap dealing threshold at $8 billion over the immediately 
preceding 12 months, as proposed. The Commission is also adopting the 
other conforming and clarifying changes as proposed.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \127\ The Commission also notes that the data analysis discussed 
in this adopting release and the Proposal confirmed the analysis 
conducted for the Staff Reports. See generally 83 FR 27449-58; Final 
Staff Report, supra note 19; Preliminary Staff Report, supra note 
17.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

1. Rationale for Not Reducing AGNA Threshold to $3 Billion
    As discussed in the Proposal,\128\ as well as by most commenters 
that addressed this aspect of the Proposal,\129\ the policy objectives 
underlying SD regulation--reducing systemic risk, increasing 
counterparty protections, and increasing market efficiency, 
orderliness, and transparency--would not be significantly advanced if 
the threshold decreased to $3 billion. Additionally, the policy 
objectives furthered by a de minimis exception--increasing efficiency, 
allowing limited ancillary dealing, encouraging new participants, and 
focusing regulatory resources--would not be significantly advanced, and 
may be impaired to some extent, if the threshold decreased. Generally, 
as discussed in the Proposal and as agreed with by most commenters, 
analysis of the data indicated that: (1) The current $8 billion 
threshold subjects almost all swap transactions (as measured by AGNA or 
transaction count) to SD regulations; (2) at a lower threshold of $3 
billion, there would only be a small amount of additional AGNA and swap 
transactions subject to SD regulation, and there would potentially be 
reduced liquidity in the swap market, as compared to the $8 billion 
threshold; and (3) a lower threshold could lead to reduced liquidity 
for NFC swaps, negatively impacting end-users who utilize NFC swaps for 
hedging purposes.\130\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \128\ See generally 83 FR 27450-58.
    \129\ See supra section II.B.1.
    \130\ See generally supra section II.B.1; 83 FR 27450-58. See 
also Final Staff Report, supra note 19; Preliminary Staff Report, 
supra note 17.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

(i) High Regulatory Coverage at $8 Billion Threshold
    During the review period, almost all swap transactions involved at 
least one registered SD as a counterparty--greater than 99 percent for 
IRS, CDS, FX swaps, and equity swaps. For NFC swaps, approximately 86 
percent of transactions involved at least one registered SD as a 
counterparty. Overall, approximately 98 percent of transactions 
involved at least one registered SD. Further, almost all AGNA of swaps 
activity included at least one registered SD--greater than 99 percent 
for IRS, CDS, FX swaps, and equity swaps. The Commission notes that the 
2017 Counterparty Coverage was approximately 83.5 percent--i.e., 
approximately 16.5 percent of the counterparties in the swap market did 
not transact with at least one registered SD on at least one swap 
(6,440 counterparties out of a total of 39,107), and therefore 
potentially did not benefit from the counterparty protection aspects of 
SD regulations.\131\ However, given the 2017 AGNA Coverage and 2017 
Transaction Coverage statistics, these 6,440 entities had limited 
overall swaps activity. Accordingly, to the extent these 6,440 entities 
were engaged in swap dealing activities, such activity was likely 
ancillary and in connection with other client services, potentially 
advancing the policy rationales behind a de minimis exception. This 
data signifies that nearly all swaps already benefited from the policy 
considerations discussed above (e.g., reducing systemic

[[Page 56675]]

risk, increasing counterparty protections, and increasing market 
efficiency, orderliness, and transparency) at the existing $8 billion 
threshold.\132\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \131\ The actual number of entities without a single transaction 
with a registered SD was likely lower than 6,440. Of the 6,440 
entities, 1,780 had invalid identifiers that staff was unable to 
manually replace with a valid LEI. It is possible that these 1,780 
invalid identifiers actually represented fewer than 1,780 distinct 
counterparties because one counterparty may be associated with 
multiple invalid identifiers. See 83 FR 27451.
    \132\ This analysis is discussed in greater detail in the 
Proposal, and was also addressed by commenters. See supra section 
II.B.1; 83 FR 27450-52.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

(ii) Minimal Additional Regulatory Coverage at Lower Threshold
    Given the high percentage of swaps that were subject to SD 
regulation at the existing $8 billion threshold during the review 
period, a lower threshold of $3 billion would result in only a small 
amount of additional activity being directly subjected to SD 
regulation. Specifically, the Estimated AGNA Coverage would have 
increased from approximately $221,020 billion (99.95 percent) to 
$221,039 billion (99.96 percent)--an increase of $19 billion (a 0.01 
percentage point increase). The Estimated Transaction Coverage would 
have increased from 3,795,330 trades (99.77 percent) to 3,797,734 
trades (99.83 percent)--an increase of 2,404 trades (a 0.06 percentage 
point increase). The Estimated Counterparty Coverage would have 
increased from 30,879 counterparties (88.80 percent) to 31,559 
counterparties (90.75 percent)--an increase of 680 counterparties (a 
1.96 percentage point increase). These small increases in Estimated 
Regulatory Coverage indicate that the systemic risk mitigation, 
counterparty protection, and market efficiency benefits of SD 
regulation would be enhanced in only a very limited manner if the 
threshold decreased from $8 billion to $3 billion. Additionally, the 
limited regulatory and market benefits of a $3 billion threshold should 
be considered in conjunction with the costs associated with a lower 
threshold (e.g., costs of implementing policies and procedures, 
technology systems, and training programs to address requirements 
imposed by SD regulations).\133\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \133\ This analysis is discussed in greater detail in the 
Proposal, and was also addressed by commenters. See supra section 
II.B.1; 83 FR 27452-54.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Additionally, as discussed by the Commission and most commenters, a 
$3 billion AGNA threshold could lead certain entities to reduce or 
cease swap dealing activity to avoid registration and its related 
costs.\134\ Generally, the costs associated with registering as an SD 
may exceed the profits from dealing swaps for entities with limited 
dealing activities. This could lead to negative impacts for swap market 
participants, including, but not limited to, small and mid-sized end-
users who use swaps for hedging purposes. Reduced swap dealing activity 
could lead to increased concentration in the swap dealing market, 
reduced availability of potential swap counterparties, reduced 
liquidity, increased volatility, increased systemic risk, and/or higher 
fees or reduced competitive pricing. The end-user counterparties of 
these smaller swap dealing entities may be adversely impacted by the 
above consequences and could face a reduced ability to use swaps to 
manage their business risks.\135\ Additionally, as noted by some 
commenters, the nature of the swaps activity entered into by certain 
entities poses less systemic risk--e.g., commercial banks that have 
swap dealing activity below $8 billion and entities that primarily 
enter into NFC swaps.\136\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \134\ See supra section II.B.1; 83 FR 27452-54. See also Final 
Staff Report, supra note 19.
    \135\ See supra section II.B.1; 83 FR 27452-54.
    \136\ See supra section II.B.1; Citizens, IECA, NRECA/APPA, 
NGSA, and SVB comment letters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Further, although approximately 86 percent of NFC swaps involved at 
least one registered SD compared to approximately 99 percent for other 
asset classes, as discussed in the Proposal, the Commission is of the 
view that lower SD regulatory coverage is acceptable given the special 
characteristics of the NFC swap market. A reduced threshold likely 
would have negative impacts on NFC swap liquidity as some entities 
(e.g., small and mid-sized banks and/or non-financial entities) reduce 
dealing to avoid registration and its related costs. This would be 
detrimental to the end-users who do not have trading relationships with 
larger, financial-entity SDs, and who rely on small to mid-sized banks 
and/or non-financial entities to access liquidity in the wider swap 
market. Additionally, even if the threshold decreased, the available 
data leaves it unclear if or to what extent the 2017 Counterparty 
Coverage statistic of 86 percent would increase for NFC swaps since 
several of those entities may already have less than $3 billion in AGNA 
of swap dealing activity. Further, many of the entities engaged in 
limited swap dealing activity for NFC swaps appear to have a 
specialized role in the market, in that their primary business is 
generally non-financial in nature and the swap dealing activity is 
ancillary to their primary role in the market.\137\ Finally, entities 
that are active in the NFC swap market may utilize the existing 
physical position hedging exemption, which is more directly applicable 
to the NFC asset class than to other swaps.\138\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \137\ This analysis is discussed in greater detail in the 
Proposal, and was also addressed by commenters. See supra section 
II.B.1; 83 FR 27452-57. See also CMC, IECA, and NGSA comment 
letters.
    \138\ See 17 CFR 1.3, Swap dealer, paragraph (6)(iii); 83 FR 
27456-57.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

(iii) Response to Commenters Advocating Lower Threshold
    The Commission disagrees with the few commenters that stated that 
the AGNA threshold should decrease to $3 billion.\139\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \139\ See supra section II.B.3.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Better Markets stated that the high regulatory coverage ratios are 
not indicative of the absolute level of swap dealing activities 
relevant to SD registration, and asserted that maintaining an $8 
billion threshold would have more than a limited detrimental effect on 
counterparty protections.\140\ The Commission notes that the statutory 
requirements do not dictate a specific methodology for assessing the de 
minimis exception, such as the focus on the absolute level of swap 
dealing suggested by Better Markets. Rather, the CEA requires the 
Commission to promulgate regulations to establish factors with respect 
to the making of a determination to exempt from designation as an SD an 
entity engaged in a de minimis quantity of swap dealing, without 
stating additional requirements.\141\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \140\ See supra section II.B.3; Better Markets comment letter.
    \141\ 7 U.S.C. 1a(49)(D).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Additionally, as stated in the SD Definition Proposing Release and 
the SD Definition Adopting Release, the de minimis exception ``should 
be interpreted to address amounts of dealing activity that are 
sufficiently small that they do not warrant registration to address 
concerns implicated by the regulations governing swap dealers and 
security-based swap dealers. In other words, the exception should apply 
only when an entity's dealing activity is so minimal that applying 
dealer regulations to the entity would not be warranted.'' \142\ This 
decision inherently requires judgment, and for that reason the 
Commission has considered whether entities that have less than $8 
billion in swap dealing activity meet this standard. Given the nature 
of the swap market and the Commission's analysis of the data, requiring 
an entity that has less than $8 billion in swap dealing activity to 
register as an SD is not warranted because it would not appreciably 
impact the systemic risk, counterparty protection, and market 
efficiency considerations of SD regulation, but

[[Page 56676]]

would negatively impact the policy considerations underlying the de 
minimis exception by reducing the amount of swap dealing allowed under 
the exception.\143\ Thus, the Commission concludes that the $8 billion 
threshold is consistent with a key rationale behind the de minimis 
exception because it would permit ``amounts of dealing activity that 
are sufficiently small that they do not warrant registration.'' \144\ 
No individual policy factor was dispositive in the Commission's 
analysis. Rather, the Commission considered all of the policy factors 
when assessing the regulatory coverage ratios.\145\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \142\ SD Definition Adopting Release, 77 FR 30626; SD Definition 
Proposing Release, 75 FR 80179.
    \143\ As discussed, the analysis conducted in connection with 
the Proposal was consistent with the analysis conducted in 
connection with the Staff Reports. See generally 83 FR 27449-58; 
Final Staff Report, supra note 19; Preliminary Staff Report, supra 
note 17.
    \144\ 77 FR 30626. See also 75 FR 80179.
    \145\ As noted in the SD Definition Adopting Release, 
``implementing the de minimis exception requires a careful balancing 
that considers the regulatory interests that could be undermined by 
an unduly broad exception as well as those regulatory interests that 
may be promoted by an appropriately limited exception.'' 77 FR 
30628.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As noted above in section II.B.3, Better Markets also asserted that 
the statutory provision regarding the de minimis exception authorizes 
the CFTC to issue exemptive orders for individual or similarly-situated 
legal entities based upon generally applicable factors for determining 
whether such entities may be involved in de minimis swap dealing 
activities. Better Markets contends that it is unreasonable to conclude 
that Congress intended a wholesale exemption from registration that is 
divorced from the particular circumstances of any one petitioner.\146\ 
As noted, however, the CEA states that the Commission shall promulgate 
factors, through regulation, regarding the De Minimis Exception 
determination. Nothing in the statutory language prohibits the 
Commission from establishing a de minimis exception that is self-
effectuating. The Commission believes that the $8 billion threshold 
appropriately excludes entities ``whose dealing activity is 
sufficiently modest in light of the total size, concentration and other 
attributes'' of the swap market and for which SD regulation ``would not 
be expected to contribute significantly to advancing the customer 
protection, market efficiency and transparency objectives of dealer 
regulation.'' \147\ The Commission sees no basis in the record or 
requirement in the statute to treat entities differently when they are 
similarly situated in this respect.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \146\ See Better Markets comment letter.
    \147\ 77 FR 30629-30.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Also as noted above, with respect to the data analysis methodology, 
Better Markets and the Senators stated that the data insufficiently or 
misleadingly justifies maintaining the threshold at $8 billion.\148\ 
Better Markets also asserted that: (1) The CFTC should have provided an 
opportunity for public comment on alternative assumptions; (2) there is 
some ambiguity in the terms used in the CFTC's analysis; (3) the CFTC's 
reliance upon a 10 unique counterparty filter is based on fatally 
flawed logic; (4) the data limitations argue for better field-level and 
affiliate reporting of swaps, which would give the CFTC an informed 
basis to consider changes to a $3 billion threshold; and (5) the CFTC 
must first amend its swap data and chief compliance officer reporting 
regulations to ensure it has sufficient data to provide an informed 
basis for administrative action.\149\ Each of these comments will be 
addressed in turn.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \148\ See supra section II.B.3; Better Markets and Senators 
comment letters.
    \149\ See supra section II.B.3; Better Markets comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    First, with respect to Better Markets' comment that the Commission 
should have provided an opportunity for public comment on alternative 
assumptions for the data analysis, the Commission notes that the 
methodology used by Commission staff to analyze data in relation to the 
de minimis threshold was first laid out in the Preliminary Staff 
Report, on which the public had the opportunity to comment. The Final 
Staff Report updated that analysis, and then the Proposal explained how 
the data related specifically to the proposal to maintain the $8 
billion threshold. As discussed in the Proposal, the updated analysis 
largely confirmed the analysis conducted for the Staff Reports. 
However, there is greater confidence in the results given the improved 
data and refined methodology. The Commission believes that the public 
has had an appropriate opportunity to comment on the data, the 
methodology, the assumptions about the data, and how the data relates 
to the maintenance of the $8 billion threshold.
    Second, the Commission cannot assess Better Markets' comment that 
the analysis discussed in the Proposal contained ambiguous terms 
because Better Markets does not state which terms were ambiguous.
    Third, the Commission disagrees with Better Markets' comment that 
``the fact that CFTC-registered swap dealers, including every major 
Wall Street bank, tend to have more than 10 counterparties is 
irrelevant.'' \150\ The Commission notes that staff used the minimum 10 
counterparty count only for analytical purposes, as a heuristic to help 
isolate those entities that appeared to be dealing. Lacking a dealing 
field in the data, for the reasons set forth above, staff selected a 
minimum of 10 counterparties as a conservative estimate to improve the 
analysis and better identify entities likely engaged in swap 
dealing.\151\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \150\ See Better Markets comment letter.
    \151\ See supra section II.A; 83 FR 27449-50.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Commission also believes that the 10 counterparty filter is 
appropriate for purposes of this analysis based on its observations of 
registered SDs and unregistered entities active in the swap market. As 
noted in the Proposal, data analysis showed that 83 percent of 
registered SDs had 10 or more counterparties, without weighting the 
results.\152\ In other words, since the analysis was performed using a 
non-weighted ranking, SDs with thousands of counterparties did not bias 
the results.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \152\ See 83 FR 27449.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Fourth, the Commission does not believe that the data limitations 
warrant a delay in setting the threshold at $8 billion. As discussed, 
the data has improved since the analysis in the Staff Reports. Further, 
the Commission believes its analysis was appropriately conservative, 
particularly given that the volume of activity it analyzed was over-
inclusive (since hedging and other non-dealing activity could not be 
excluded), and given that its entity-level exclusions were based on an 
informed assessment of the likely activity of swap market participants.
    In the SD Definition Adopting Release, the Commission noted that 
``comprehensive information regarding the total size of the domestic 
swap market is incomplete, with more information available with respect 
to certain asset classes than others.'' \153\ In 2012, the Commission 
evaluated the appropriateness of the initial $3 billion AGNA threshold 
using three primary sources of data: (1) Index CDS; (2) the Quarterly 
Report on Bank Trading and Derivatives Activities issued by the Office 
of the Comptroller of the Currency (``OCC''); and (3) public comments 
to the 2010 SD Definition Proposing Release.\154\ At the time, 
granular, transaction-level swaps data across all swap asset classes 
was not yet available for review by the Commission. The data now 
available is significantly more detailed than what was available

[[Page 56677]]

to the Commission when the $3 billion threshold was originally 
established. The data now includes details such as counterparty pairs, 
product identifiers, transaction-level data for those market 
participants active in more asset classes than only index CDS, and 
transaction-level data (not just quarterly position data) involving 
market participants beyond banks subject to OCC reporting. In light of 
the additional, more detailed data, the Commission believes that the $8 
billion threshold continues to be appropriately calibrated to the 
policy goals of SD registration and the de minimis exception.\155\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \153\ 77 FR 30632.
    \154\ Id. at 30632-33.
    \155\ Additionally, Commission staff attempted to accurately 
identify those entities that, based on their observable business 
activities, are potentially engaged in swap dealing activity versus 
those likely engaged in other kinds of transactions. See supra 
section II.A; 83 FR 27449.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Fifth, for similar reasons, the Commission does not believe it 
should wait to amend its swap data and chief compliance officer 
reporting regulations before setting the threshold at $8 billion. As 
noted above, the Commission believes that it does have sufficient data 
to support this action, so it is not necessary to wait for future 
changes to the data reporting regime.\156\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \156\ The Commission also notes that it recently adopted 
amendments to its chief compliance officer requirements. See Chief 
Compliance Officer Duties and Annual Report Requirements for Futures 
Commission Merchants, Swap Dealers, and Major Swap Participants, 83 
FR 43519 (Aug. 27, 2018).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As noted above, Better Markets also commented that the de minimis 
threshold framework should be revised to focus on strict, observable 
measures like total notional amount or transactional activities, rather 
than a subset of such activities that potential registrants are able to 
interpret for themselves, and are not presently required by regulation 
to monitor, report, or internally track across the firm.\157\ However, 
the Commission notes that the statutory definition of ``swap dealer'' 
itself limits the scope to swap dealing activity, and therefore, using 
total notional amount would not be appropriate.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \157\ See supra section II.B.3; Better Markets comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As noted, the Senators stated that the data that was available for 
NFC swaps shows significantly less coverage for that asset class under 
an $8 billion threshold compared to other asset classes.\158\ In 
justifying the $8 billion proposal, the Senators commented that though 
the Proposal noted the ``unique characteristics'' of NFC swaps, the 
analysis provided indicated a series of assumptions and possibilities 
rather than concrete data. The Senators also questioned whether, given 
the lack of relevant data for NFC swaps, it is necessary to reduce the 
threshold for SDs involved with energy-related swaps. However, as 
discussed in section II.C.1.ii, the Commission believes that a reduced 
threshold would have a negative impact on NFC swap market liquidity as 
some entities may reduce dealing to avoid registration and its related 
costs. Additionally, as noted, entities active in the NFC swap market 
may utilize the existing physical position hedging exemption, which is 
more directly applicable to the NFC asset class than other swaps.\159\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \158\ See supra section II.B.3; Senators comment letter. As 
noted above, for NFC swaps, approximately 86 percent of transactions 
involved at least one registered SD as a counterparty, compared to 
greater than 99 percent for IRS, CDS, FX swaps, and equity swaps. 
See supra section II.C.1.i.
    \159\ See 17 CFR 1.3, Swap dealer, paragraph (6)(iii); supra 
section II.C.1.ii; 83 FR 27456-57.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Further, AFR stated that, though the improved data adds weight to 
the claim that an $8 billion threshold is appropriate for some 
financial swaps, arguments against the $8 billion threshold are 
particularly strong in the case of NFC swaps.\160\ The Commission does 
not believe a lower threshold for NFC swaps would advance the policy 
goals of SD registration or the de minimis exception. As noted by the 
Commission and several commenters, the nature of the NFC swap market 
poses less systemic risk than financial swaps.\161\ Additionally, the 
Commission notes the concerns of reduced liquidity if the threshold is 
reduced for NFC swaps, including an increased concentration in the 
market, which could adversely affect end-users who rely on small and 
mid-sized SDs that do not have to register at an $8 billion threshold.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \160\ See supra section II.B.3; AFR comment letter.
    \161\ See supra section II.B.1. See, e.g., IECA and NGSA comment 
letters. See also 83 FR 27456-57; Final Staff Report, supra note 19, 
at 12 (citing comment letters submitted in response to Preliminary 
Staff Report, supra note 17).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Lastly, the Commission disagrees with IATP's assertion that 
promoting improved price discovery is not the true rationale for 
maintaining an $8 billion threshold, and that rather, the motivation is 
the regulatory compliance cost and burden reduction objective of 
Project KISS.\162\ The Commission has laid out above the various 
policy-related considerations that justify maintaining an $8 billion 
threshold; these relate to the regulatory goals of both SD registration 
in general and of the de minimis exception in particular. Additionally, 
these goals were discussed in the Staff Reports, well in advance of any 
comments submitted in response to Project KISS.\163\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \162\ See supra section II.B.3; IATP comment letter.
    \163\ See Final Staff Report, supra note 19; Preliminary Staff 
Report, supra note 17.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

2. Rationale for Not Increasing AGNA Threshold
    Although several commenters suggested a higher threshold, the 
Commission is declining to increase the AGNA threshold from the current 
$8 billion level. As discussed in the Proposal,\164\ at a $100 billion 
threshold: (1) The Estimated AGNA Coverage would have decreased from 
approximately $221,020 billion (99.95 percent) to $220,877 billion 
(99.88 percent)--a decrease of $143 billion (a 0.06 percentage point 
decrease); \165\ (2) the Estimated Transaction Coverage would have 
decreased from 3,795,330 trades (99.77 percent) to 3,773,440 trades 
(99.20 percent)--a decrease of 21,890 trades (a 0.58 percentage point 
decrease); \166\ and (3) the Estimated Counterparty Coverage would have 
decreased from 30,879 counterparties (88.80 percent) to 28,234 
counterparties (81.19 percent)--a decrease of 2,645 counterparties (a 
7.61 percentage point decrease).\167\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \164\ See 83 FR 27454-56.
    \165\ The decrease would be lower at thresholds of $20 billion 
and $50 billion, at 0.01 percentage points and 0.04 percentage 
points, respectively.
    \166\ The decrease would be lower at thresholds of $20 billion 
and $50 billion, at 0.05 percentage points and 0.42 percentage 
points, respectively.
    \167\ The decrease would be lower at thresholds of $20 billion 
and $50 billion, at 2.80 percentage points and 5.71 percentage 
points, respectively.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As the Commission and commenters have stated, the small decrease in 
Estimated AGNA Coverage and Estimated Transaction Coverage at higher 
thresholds potentially indicates that increasing the threshold to up to 
$100 billion may have a limited adverse effect on the systemic risk and 
market efficiency policy considerations of SD regulation.\168\ 
Additionally, a higher threshold could enhance the benefits associated 
with a de minimis exception, for example by allowing entities to 
increase ancillary dealing activity. However, the Commission is of the 
view that the decrease in Estimated Counterparty Coverage indicates 
that fewer entities would be transacting with registered SDs, reducing 
the counterparty protection benefits of SD regulation if the AGNA 
threshold increased from $8 billion to $20 billion, $50 billion, or 
$100 billion.\169\ The

[[Page 56678]]

Commission also notes that increasing the threshold could result in 
changes in market behavior that could lead to the regulatory coverage 
decreasing more than the analysis indicated.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \168\ See supra section II.B.2; 83 FR 27455.
    \169\ As noted, the decrease in Estimated Counterparty Coverage 
would be 2.80 percentage points, 5.71 percentage points, 7.61 
percentage points, at thresholds of $20 billion, $50 billion, and 
$100 billion, respectively.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Further, maintaining the status quo signals long-term stability of 
the de minimis threshold, and should provide for the efficient 
application of the SD Definition, as it allows for long-term planning 
based on the current AGNA threshold.\170\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \170\ See 83 FR 27456-57.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

3. Response to Other Comments
    With respect to BDA's comment regarding permitting month-end only 
testing for the de minimis threshold, the Commission notes that several 
commenters indicated that the market has adapted to the current 
requirements and that changes would not be beneficial.\171\ In 
particular, the Commission agrees with commenters that the current test 
is relatively simple to administer, and the 12-month testing period 
helps to smooth out any short-term variations in activity. The 
Commission does not believe that allowing month-end only testing would 
reduce burdens since persons should already have systems in place to 
regularly track the level of their swap dealing activity. Therefore, 
the Commission is not adopting this alternative. Additionally, in 
response to BDA, the Commission notes that for purposes of the $8 
billion threshold calculation, an entity must count activity that took 
place in the immediately preceding 12 months.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \171\ See supra section II.B.4.i. Potentially, month-end only 
testing could marginally encourage competition because newly-
established swap dealing businesses (as contrasted to the existing 
businesses that have adapted to current requirements) could set up 
only month-end testing as opposed to regular testing. However, the 
Commission believes that maintaining the current requirements is 
appropriate even in view of any marginal encouragement of 
competition that could result from the suggested change.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Similarly, in response to the commenters that recommended 
alternatives to the single AGNA threshold or other calculation 
changes,\172\ the Commission points out that systems and processes have 
been established for the current requirements,\173\ and therefore the 
Commission is not adopting the proposed adjustments at this time. The 
Commission may take subsequent action or conduct further study with 
respect to alternative approaches to the single AGNA threshold, 
including moving toward a risk-based SD registration metric in the 
future. The Commission would expect that a change could entail costs as 
market participants adjust their de minimis threshold calculation 
processes.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \172\ See supra sections II.B.4.ii and II.B.4.iii.
    \173\ See, e.g., supra sections II.B.4.i and II.B.4.ii.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Additionally, any modification to the special entity threshold is 
outside of the scope of the Proposal,\174\ but as with other 
suggestions, the Commission may consider this in the future. Lastly, 
with respect to comments asking that the Commission address cross-
border issues,\175\ this issue is also outside of the scope of this 
rulemaking.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \174\ See supra section II.B.4.iii; supra note 12; 83 FR 27445 
n.14.
    \175\ See supra section II.B.4.iv.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

III. Proposed Rule Amendments Not Adopted

A. Swaps Entered Into by Insured Depository Institutions in Connection 
With Loans to Customers

1. Proposal
    The Commission proposed adding an IDI loan-related factor in the De 
Minimis Exception (the ``IDI De Minimis Provision'') to address 
concerns that there are circumstances where swaps not covered by the 
IDI loan-related swap exclusion in paragraph (5) of the SD Definition 
(the ``IDI Swap Dealing Exclusion'') should be excluded from the de 
minimis calculation. Specifically, the Commission proposed to add 
specific characteristics that an IDI can consider when assessing 
whether swaps entered into with customers in connection with loans to 
those customers must be counted towards the IDI's de minimis 
calculation. The proposed IDI De Minimis Provision would have 
encompassed a broader scope of loan-related swaps than the IDI Swap 
Dealing Exclusion. The proposed IDI De Minimis Provision included: (1) 
A lengthier timing requirement for when the swap must be entered into; 
(2) an expansion of the types of swaps that are eligible; (3) a reduced 
syndication percentage requirement; and (4) an elimination of the 
notional amount cap. The IDI could exclude qualifying swaps from the de 
minimis calculation pursuant to the IDI De Minimis Provision regardless 
of whether the swaps would qualify for the IDI Swap Dealing Exclusion.
2. Summary of Comments
    Almost all commenters that addressed the IDI De Minimis Provision 
expressed general support for the proposed amendment.\176\ Commenters 
often compared the IDI De Minimis Provision to the IDI Swap Dealing 
Exclusion. In that regard, commenters generally stated that the IDI De 
Minimis Provision better aligns the regulatory framework with the risk 
mitigation demands of bank customers.\177\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \176\ See ABA, BDA, Capital One, CDEU, Citizens, Frost Bank, 
IIB, ISDA/SIFMA, JBA, M&T, and Regions comment letters.
    \177\ See Capital One, Frost Bank, M&T, Regions comment letters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Commenters generally supported proposed new paragraph 
(4)(i)(C)(1),\178\ which provided that a swap must be entered into no 
earlier than 90 days before execution of the loan agreement, or before 
transfer of principal to the customer, unless an executed commitment or 
forward agreement for the applicable loan exists. In that event, the 
90-day restriction does not apply. In comparison, the IDI Swap Dealing 
Exclusion in paragraph (5) of the SD Definition requires that a swap 
must be entered into no more than 90 days before or 180 days after the 
date of execution of the loan agreement (or date of transfer of 
principal to the customer).\179\ On the other hand, three commenters 
recommended removing the 90-day restriction because it would be 
detrimental to the IDIs and/or borrowers.\180\ Additionally, two 
commenters suggested revisions to the ``executed commitment'' or 
``forward agreement'' exception to the 90-day restriction.\181\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \178\ See Capital One, Citizens, Frost Bank, M&T, and Regions 
comment letters.
    \179\ 17 CFR 1.3, Swap dealer, paragraph (5)(i)(A).
    \180\ See BDA, CDEU, and ISDA/SFIMA comment letters.
    \181\ See Capital One and Frost Bank comment letters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Proposed new paragraph (4)(i)(C)(2) stated that for purposes of the 
IDI De Minimis Provision, a swap is ``in connection with'' a loan if: 
(1) The rate, asset, liability or other term underlying such swap is, 
or is related to, a financial term of such loan; or (2) if such swap is 
required as a condition of the loan, either under the IDI's loan 
underwriting criteria or as is commercially appropriate, in order to 
hedge risks incidental to the borrower's business (other than for risks 
associated with an excluded commodity) that may affect the borrower's 
ability to repay the loan. Two commenters requested clarification 
regarding the proposed ``condition of the loan'' language.\182\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \182\ See ABA and Regions comment letters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Proposed new paragraph (4)(i)(C)(3) stated that the termination 
date of the swap cannot extend beyond termination of the loan. A few 
commenters stated that circumstances can be anticipated at the time of 
loan origination that would support permitting the termination date of 
the swap to extend beyond

[[Page 56679]]

termination of the loan.\183\ Additionally, in response to a question 
in the Proposal, a few commenters stated that in order to qualify for 
the IDI De Minimis Provision, IDIs should not be required to terminate 
loan-related swaps if a loan is called, put, accelerated, or goes into 
default before scheduled termination.\184\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \183\ See ABA, BDA, CDEU, Citizens, and M&T comment letters.
    \184\ See ABA, BDA, Capital One, CDEU, IIB, and ISDA/SIFMA 
comment letters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Proposed new paragraph (4)(i)(C)(4)(i) required an IDI to be, under 
the terms of the agreements related to the loan, the source of at least 
five percent of the maximum principal amount under the loan for a 
related swap not to be counted towards its de minimis calculation, and 
proposed new paragraph (4)(i)(C)(4)(ii) stated that if an IDI is a 
source of less than a five percent of the maximum principal amount of 
the loan, the notional amount of all swaps the IDI enters into in 
connection with the financial terms of the loan cannot exceed the 
principal amount of the IDI's loan in order to qualify for the IDI De 
Minimis Provision. A few commenters stated that the five percent 
participation requirement should be eliminated from the IDI De Minimis 
Provision,\185\ while two commenters generally supported the five 
percent requirement.\186\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \185\ See ABA, BDA, Citizens, and ISDA/SIFMA comment letters.
    \186\ See Capital One and M&T comment letters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The proposed IDI De Minimis Provision did not include the 
requirement in the IDI Swap Dealing Exclusion that the AGNA of swaps 
entered into in connection with the loan not exceed the principal 
amount outstanding,\187\ and two commenters agreed that there are 
circumstances where the AGNA of loan-related swaps can exceed the 
outstanding principal amount of the loan.\188\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \187\ 17 CFR 1.3, Swap dealer, paragraph (5)(i)(E). However, as 
discussed, pursuant to proposed paragraph (4)(i)(C)(4)(ii), if an 
IDI is a source of less than a five percent of the maximum principal 
amount of the loan, the notional amount of all swaps the IDI enters 
into in connection with the financial terms of the loan cannot 
exceed the principal amount of the IDI's loan. See also 83 FR 27461.
    \188\ See Capital One and M&T comment letters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In response to a question in the Proposal, three commenters stated 
that the CFTC should not impose any prior notice requirement or other 
conditions on the ability of IDIs to rely on the proposed IDI De 
Minimis Provision.\189\ In response to another question in the 
Proposal, three commenters stated that there should not be a 
requirement that swap confirmations reference a specific loan because 
doing so would add operational complexity for little or no 
benefit.\190\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \189\ See ABA, Capital One, and M&T comment letters.
    \190\ See ABA, BDA, and Capital One comment letters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Two commenters discussed whether the IDI De Minimis Provision could 
be promulgated without a joint rulemaking.\191\ ABA stated that the 
Commission is not required to promulgate the IDI De Minimis Provision 
through joint rulemaking with the SEC.\192\ However, Better Markets 
asserted that the CFTC's position that a ``joint rulemaking is not 
required with respect to changes to the de minimis exception-related 
factors'' is invalid and ``would impermissibly enable the CFTC to 
conduct an end-run around the statutory joint rulemaking requirement.'' 
In particular, Better Markets stated that language potentially 
permitting unilateral action on the de minimis threshold itself does 
not permit unilateral regulatory actions affecting core definitional 
issues that must be accomplished through joint rulemaking.\193\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \191\ See ABA and Better Markets comment letter.
    \192\ See ABA comment letter.
    \193\ See Better Markets comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

3. Commission Response
    The Commission has determined not to adopt the IDI De Minimis 
Provision at this time. The Commission continues to consider the issues 
raised by commenters. For example, the various contexts in which IDIs 
enter into swaps with their loan customers, and the relation between 
those swaps and the larger swap market, may merit further 
consideration.

B. Swaps Entered Into to Hedge Financial or Physical Positions

1. Proposal
    The Commission proposed adding a provision in new paragraph 
(4)(i)(D) of the De Minimis Exception, to include as a factor whether a 
swap was entered into primarily for the purpose of hedging and met 
certain related conditions (the ``Hedging De Minimis Provision'').\194\ 
As proposed, to qualify for the Hedging De Minimis Provision, the 
primary purpose for the swap would need to be to reduce or otherwise 
mitigate one or more specific risks to which the person is subject. 
Proposed paragraph (4)(i)(D)(2) provided that the person entering into 
the hedging swap could not be the price maker of the hedging swap and 
receive or collect a bid/ask spread, fee, or other commission for 
entering into the hedging swap (the ``price maker condition''). In 
addition, the proposed Hedging De Minimis Provision included in 
paragraphs (D)(3) through (D)(5) the following conditions that are 
similar to conditions in the physical hedging exclusion in paragraph 
(6)(iii) of the SD Definition: (1) The swap must be economically 
appropriate to the reduction of risks that may arise in the conduct and 
management of an enterprise engaged in the type of business in which 
the person is engaged; (2) the swap must be entered into in accordance 
with sound business practices; and (3) the swap must not be entered 
into in connection with activity structured to evade designation as an 
SD.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \194\ See 83 FR 27462-63.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

2. Summary of Comments
    Most commenters supported including an express hedging exception 
that would clarify which physical and financial hedging swaps do not 
need to be included in the AGNA threshold calculation.\195\ These 
commenters agreed with the Commission that there is currently some 
uncertainty and confusion among market participants regarding this 
determination. However, many of these commenters raised issues with the 
particular conditions identified in the proposed Hedging De Minimis 
Provision, and two other commenters objected to inclusion of the 
Hedging De Minimis Provision.\196\ Among other issues, the two 
commenters viewed the Hedging De Minimis Provision as a major expansion 
of the De Minimis Exception.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \195\ See ABA, AGA, AFEX/GPS, BDA, Capital One, CDEU, COPE, CMC, 
EEI/EPSA, Frost Bank, FIA, IIB, IECA, ISDA/SIFMA, JBA, NRECA/APPA, 
NGSA, Virtu, and Western Union comment letters.
    \196\ See AFR and Better Markets comment letters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Generally, commenters supported adding the Hedging De Minimis 
Provision to the De Minimis Exception to provide more certainty and/or 
clarity regarding the treatment of hedging activity.\197\ On the other 
hand, AFR and Better Markets stated that excepting hedges of swap 
dealing positions from the de minimis threshold could exclude swaps 
that appear to be hedges, but are actually dealing swaps.\198\ 
Furthermore, Better Markets asserted that a hedge of client facing swap 
is ``inextricably'' tied to accommodating customer demands.\199\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \197\ See ABA, AGA, BDA, Capital One, Citizens, CDEU, EEI/EPSA, 
Frost Bank, FIA, NGSA, NRECA/APPA, Virtu, and Western Union comment 
letters.
    \198\ See AFR and Better Markets comment letters.
    \199\ See Better Markets comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Several commenters noted that the price maker condition included in 
the proposed Hedging De Minimis Provision could be viewed as more

[[Page 56680]]

limiting than the existing physical swap hedging exclusion.\200\ Many 
commenters expressed concern that the proposed condition would be 
overly prescriptive, ambiguous, and/or could inadvertently require 
certain hedging activity to be treated as swap dealing activity.\201\ 
In particular, commenters asked that the bid/ask spread limitation be 
deleted or clarified.\202\ Conversely, two commenters expressed some 
support for this condition as proposed.\203\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \200\ See CEWG, CMC, FIA, and IECA comment letters.
    \201\ See CDEU, EEI/EPSA, IECA, and Western Union comment 
letters.
    \202\ See ABA, BDA, EEI/EPSA, IECA, IIB, NRECA/APPA, and Western 
Union comment letters.
    \203\ See COPE and NRECA/APPA comment letters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    ISDA/SIFMA was of the view that the requirement that the primary 
purpose for entering into the swap must be to reduce or otherwise 
mitigate one or more ``specific'' risks is unreasonably 
restrictive.\204\ ISDA/SIFMA suggested that the Commission should 
remove the term ``specific'' from the regulatory text to better achieve 
the Commission's policy objective of encouraging greater use of swaps 
to hedge risks. On the other hand, NRECA/APPA noted that the specific, 
but non-exclusive, risks identified in paragraph (4)(i)(D)(1) are 
consistent with the types of commercial risks that an end-user would 
hedge.\205\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \204\ See ISDA/SIFMA comment letter.
    \205\ See NRECA/APPA comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    AFR and Better Markets objected to the Hedging De Minimis 
Provision, stating that it could allow even large dealers to escape 
registration, and that the exclusion of anticipatory hedges allows too 
much discretion to institutional judgment.\206\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \206\ See AFR and Better Markets comment letters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Better Markets expressed concern that the Hedging De Minimis 
Provision promotes unregulated swap dealing and is therefore ``not a 
valid statutory objective.'' Furthermore, Better Markets stated that 
the Commission does not need to provide clarity for the existing 
hedging exemption because the existing standard of using facts and 
circumstances to distinguish dealing swaps is a ``well-settled 
framework.'' \207\ Better Markets also asserted that the Commission 
misinterpreted its prior statements about the use of swaps to hedge 
dealing positions. However, in doing so, Better Markets cited to 
language in the joint SD Definition Adopting Release that addressed the 
definition of ``security-based swap dealer,'' not ``swap dealer.'' 
\208\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \207\ See Better Markets comment letter. Better Markets noted 
that, in October 2012, DSIO addressed whether hedging activity is 
included in calculating the de minimis amount when it stated that 
``a person must consider the swap in light of all other relevant 
facts and circumstances to determine whether such hedging activity 
is swap dealing activity. . . .'' See Frequently Asked Questions 
(FAQ)--[DSIO] Responds to FAQs About Swap Entities (Oct. 12, 2012) 
(``DSIO FAQ Guidance''), available at https://www.cftc.gov/idc/groups/public/@newsroom/documents/file/swapentities_faq_final.pdf.
    \208\ 77 FR 30619 n.280 (stating that security-based swaps 
activity for hedging purposes ``unrelated to activities that 
constitute dealing'' would not be expected to lead the person to be 
a security-based swap dealer).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    AFR and Better Markets also asserted that the Hedging De Minimis 
Provision should not be included in the De Minimis Exception because 
enforcement of the conditions would be impractical.\209\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \209\ See AFR and Better Markets comment letters. AFR described 
the potential need for a swap-by-swap analysis and the potential for 
disputes regarding the proposed anti-evasion provision.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

3. Commission Response
    The comments generally confirmed that nuanced facts and 
circumstances may be relevant to determining whether a swap that hedges 
financial risk, but also has dealing characteristics or is connected to 
dealing activities, should be counted toward the AGNA threshold. 
However, the comments also raised specific implementation and 
compliance issues. For these reasons, the Commission has determined not 
to adopt the Hedging De Minimis Provision at this time.
    The Commission confirms that the ``relevant facts and 
circumstances'' test established in the SD Definition Adopting Release 
and further discussed in the DSIO FAQ Guidance \210\ continues to be in 
effect. In doing so, the Commission emphasizes that market participants 
should continue to evaluate such swaps without consideration of the 
proposed Hedging De Minimis Provision.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \210\ See supra note 207.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

C. Swaps Resulting From Multilateral Portfolio Compression Exercises

1. Proposal
    The Commission proposed new paragraph (4)(i)(E) of the De Minimis 
Exception, which would add as a factor in the de minimis calculation 
whether a swap results from multilateral portfolio compression 
exercises (``MPCE De Minimis Provision''). Specifically, the Proposal 
stated that for purposes of determining whether a person has exceeded 
the AGNA threshold set forth in paragraph (4)(i)(A), the person may 
exclude swaps that result from multilateral portfolio compression 
exercises, as defined in Sec.  23.500 of Commission regulations, to the 
extent the person does not enter into the multilateral portfolio 
compression exercise in connection with activity structured to evade 
designation as an SD. The Proposal was consistent with DSIO no-action 
relief issued on December 21, 2012 (``Staff Letter 12-62'').\211\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \211\ CFTC Staff Letter No. 12-62, supra note 47.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

2. Summary of Comments
    Most commenters addressing this aspect of the Proposal supported 
excepting from the de minimis threshold swaps that result from 
multilateral portfolio compression exercises,\212\ stating that 
multilateral portfolio compression: (1) Advances the Commission's 
policy goals of reducing counterparty credit risks by allowing swap 
market participants with large portfolios to net down the size and 
number of swaps among them, thus lowering the AGNA of outstanding 
swaps; \213\ and (2) does not involve dealing activity, but rather 
allows market participants to reduce their risk without implicating any 
of the other considerations related to SD regulation.\214\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \212\ See ABA, IIB, ISDA/SIFMA, JBA, and NEX comment letters.
    \213\ See ABA, ISDA/SIFMA, and NEX comment letters.
    \214\ See IIB comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Several commenters also stated that, given the policy-related 
similarities between bilateral and multilateral portfolio compression, 
the Commission should also exclude from counting towards the De Minimis 
Exception swaps that result from bilateral portfolio compression 
exercises.\215\ One commenter asserted that reliance on the 
``multilateral portfolio compression exercise'' definition in Sec.  
23.500(h) of Commission regulations may be too limiting.\216\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \215\ See ABA, IIB, ISDA/SIFMA, and JBA comment letters.
    \216\ See IIB comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    On the other hand, AFR and IATP expressed concerns with the MPCE De 
Minimis Provision.\217\ AFR stated that the definition of portfolio 
compression appears overbroad since it goes beyond the termination of 
fully offsetting swaps to include any exercise which would result in 
the reduction of current market risks for a set of swaps, even if the 
exercise might actually increase credit exposure or market risk under 
stressed market conditions.\218\ IATP noted that entities should be 
required to document and report the results of multilateral compression 
exercises to qualify for the exception. Additionally, IATP stated

[[Page 56681]]

that any de minimis exception-related exemption must be in the public 
interest, and asked questions regarding the legal authority for the 
Commission to propose the amendments included in the NPRM.\219\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \217\ See AFR and IATP comment letters.
    \218\ See AFR comment letter.
    \219\ See IATP comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

3. Commission Response
    The Commission has determined not to adopt the MPCE De Minimis 
Provision at this time. The Commission believes that further action on 
this provision may require additional consideration of the various 
relevant issues.\220\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \220\ The Commission notes that Staff Letter 12-62 is not 
affected by the Commission's determination not to adopt the MPCE De 
Minimis Provision at this time.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

D. Methodology for Calculating Notional Amounts

1. Proposal
    Given the variety of potential methods that could be used to 
calculate the notional amount for certain swaps, particularly for swaps 
where notional amount is not a contractual term of the transaction 
(e.g., certain NFC swaps), the Commission proposed new paragraph 
(4)(vii) of the De Minimis Exception, which sets out a mechanism for 
the Commission, on its own or upon written request by a person, to 
determine the methodology to be used to calculate the notional amount 
for any group, category, type, or class of swaps for purposes of 
whether a person exceeds the AGNA threshold. The proposed rule required 
that such methodology be economically reasonable and analytically 
supported, and that any such determination be posted on the CFTC 
website. Further, to ensure timely clarity to market participants, the 
Commission proposed to delegate to the Director of DSIO the authority 
to make such determinations.
2. Summary of Comments
    Several commenters generally supported Commission efforts to 
provide certainty and clarity regarding calculation of notional 
amounts.\221\ Some of these commenters supported providing the 
Commission with the explicit authority to approve or establish 
methodologies for calculating notional amount.\222\ Citizens 
specifically noted that the lack of clarity regarding notional amount 
interpretations has persisted for too long, and what little guidance 
that exists does not provide the certainty that market participants 
need in order to run their businesses efficiently.\223\ Further, FIA 
stated that the DSIO FAQ left open a multitude of questions for market 
participants attempting to calculate notional amount.\224\ 
Additionally, NGSA requested that the CFTC provide a safe harbor for 
reliance on a notional amount calculation methodology that is based on 
standard industry practice unless and until CFTC publishes notice that 
invalidates such a methodology or prescribes a different 
methodology.\225\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \221\ See ABA, Citizens, CEWG, CMC, EEI/EPSA, FIA, Frost Bank, 
IIB, NGSA, and Western Union comment letters.
    \222\ See Citizens, EEI/EPSA, FIA, Frost Bank, and Western Union 
comment letters.
    \223\ See Citizens comment letter.
    \224\ See FIA comment letter.
    \225\ See NGSA comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    NRECA/APPA suggested that the Commission should not determine the 
methodology for calculating notional amounts, stating that the word 
``determine'' in proposed new paragraph (4)(vii) of the De Minimis 
Exception should be changed to ``provide guidance with respect to.'' 
\226\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \226\ See NRECA/APPA comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Several commenters did not support the proposal to delegate to the 
Director of DSIO the authority to make notional calculation 
determinations.\227\ Specifically, some commenters stated that the 
Commission, rather than the Director of DSIO, should determine the 
methodology for calculating notional amounts because the methodology 
used to determine the AGNA is a critical component of the de minimis 
threshold, as it impacts which entities will be designated as SDs.\228\ 
Commenters also noted that the delegation, as proposed, would permit 
Commission staff to make substantive, and potentially critical, policy 
determinations in an informal process,\229\ and that Commissioners 
should not remove themselves from that decision-making process, 
particularly given that one of the challenges related to NFC swaps was 
lack of a standard for calculation of notional amount.\230\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \227\ See AGA, AFR, COPE, EEI/EPSA, FIA, IATP, ISDA/SIFMA, JBA, 
NRECA/APPA, and Senators comment letters.
    \228\ See AFR, AGA, and FIA comment letters.
    \229\ See COPE comment letter.
    \230\ See Senators comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    On the other hand, several commenters supported the proposal to 
delegate to the Director of DSIO the authority to make notional 
calculation determinations.\231\ However, many of these commenters 
supported delegation only if determinations were subject to a public 
notice and comment process.\232\ A few commenters noted that if the 
Commission believes that delegation is proper, it should add 
safeguards, such as an appeal to the Commission, coupled with a stay of 
any contested staff determination, pending Commission action.\233\ One 
commenter suggested that DSIO should be granted authority to respond to 
individual dealer requests for guidance on how the notional amount 
would be calculated for a given transaction, and dealers should be able 
to rely on any response from DSIO.\234\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \231\ See Citizens, CDEU, CEWG, CMC, Frost Bank, IIB, NGSA, and 
Western Union comment letters.
    \232\ See CDEU, CEWG, CMC, IIB, and NGSA comment letters.
    \233\ See COPE, EEI/EPSA, and IECA comment letters.
    \234\ See BDA comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Several commenters stated that notional calculation methodologies 
should be subject to a formal public notice and comment process.\235\ A 
few commenters also noted that notional calculation methodologies 
should be evaluated pursuant to a cost-benefit analysis.\236\ A few 
commenters suggested that notional calculations be guided by 
international standards, industry group comment letters, and the DSIO 
FAQ Guidance.\237\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \235\ See ABA, AGA, BDA, CDEU, CMC, EEI/EPSA, FIA, IECA, IIB, 
ISDA/SIFMA, NRECA/APPA, and NGSA comment letters.
    \236\ See AGA, FIA, and ISDA/SIFMA comment letters.
    \237\ See ABA, EEI/EPSA, NRECA/APPA, and NGSA comment letters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Commenters also provided feedback regarding specific notional 
amount calculation methodologies.\238\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \238\ See BDA, CEWG, CMC, EEI/EPSA, and IECA comment letters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

3. Commission Response
    The comments raised a number of issues with the proposed authority 
and delegation regarding the methodology for calculating notional 
amounts. Given the nature and significance of these issues, the 
Commission has determined to not adopt this provision at this time.

IV. Other Matters Discussed in NPRM

    In the NPRM, the Commission did not propose, but sought comment on 
the following additional potential changes to the De Minimis Exception: 
(1) Adding a minimum dealing counterparty count threshold and/or a 
minimum dealing transaction count threshold; (2) establishing as a 
factor in the de minimis determination whether a given swap was 
exchange-traded and/or cleared; and (3) establishing as a factor in the 
de minimis determination whether a given swap is a non-deliverable 
forward transaction. The Commission did not propose rule text for any 
of these topics.
    At this time, the Commission is not adopting final rules regarding 
any of these three potential changes. The Commission may take 
subsequent action

[[Page 56682]]

or conduct further study with respect to any of these issues. The 
Commission recognizes the public interest in moving forward with the 
aspects of the NPRM that it is adopting in this release, rather than 
delaying action on the NPRM as a whole in order to further consider any 
of these additional topics.

A. Dealing Counterparty Count and Dealing Transaction Count Thresholds

    The Commission sought comment on whether an entity should be able 
to qualify for the de minimis exception if its level of swap dealing 
activity is below any of the following three criteria: (1) An AGNA 
threshold, (2) a proposed dealing counterparty count threshold, or (3) 
a proposed dealing transaction count threshold. Although a few 
commenters expressed general support for adding a dealing counterparty 
or dealing transaction count threshold to the De Minimis 
Exception,\239\ most commenters did not support the idea.\240\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \239\ See generally BDA, IIB, and JBA comment letters.
    \240\ See generally Citizens, CEWG, EEI/EPSA, IATP, IECA, ISDA/
SIFMA, and NGSA comment letters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

B. Exception for Exchange-Traded and/or Cleared Swaps

    The Commission sought comment on whether an exception from the de 
minimis calculation for swaps that are executed on an exchange (e.g., a 
SEF or designated contract market (``DCM'')) and/or cleared by a 
derivatives clearing organization is appropriate. Most commenters 
supported including an exception for exchange-traded and/or cleared 
trades,\241\ though two commenters were opposed to the idea.\242\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \241\ See generally 360 Trading, ABA, BDA, Daiwa, Cboe SEF, 
Citizens, CME/ICE, EEI/EPSA, FXPA, Frost Bank, FIA, IIB, IECA, JBA, 
MFA, Optiver, TR SEF, Virtu, and XTX comment letters.
    \242\ See generally AFR and Better Markets comment letters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

C. Exception for Non-Deliverable Forwards

    The Commission sought comment on whether an exception from the de 
minimis calculation for non-deliverable forwards is appropriate. Most 
commenters generally supported including an exception for NDFs,\243\ 
though one commenter was opposed to the idea.\244\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \243\ See generally 360 Trading, ABA, AFEX/GPS, AGC, BDA, 
Capital One, Cboe SEF, Citizens, CDEU, CMC, Covington, FXPA, FIA, 
IIB, IECA, ISDA/SIFMA, JBA, Northern Trust, Optiver, Regions, State 
Street, SVB, TR SEF, Virtu, Western Union, and XTX comment letters.
    \244\ See Better Markets comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

V. Related Matters

A. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (``RFA'') requires that agencies 
consider whether the regulations they propose will have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.\245\ As 
noted in the Proposal, the regulations adopted herein only affect 
certain entities that are close to the AGNA threshold in the De Minimis 
Exception. For example, the regulations would affect entities with a 
relevant AGNA of swap dealing activity between $3 billion and $8 
billion. Moreover, they would affect IDIs that enter into loan-related 
swaps. That is, the regulations are relevant to entities that engage in 
swap dealing activity with a relevant AGNA measured in the billions of 
dollars. The Commission does not believe that these entities would be 
small entities for purposes of the RFA. Additionally, the Commission 
received no comments on the Proposal's RFA discussion. Therefore, the 
regulations being adopted herein will not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities, as defined in the 
RFA.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \245\ 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Accordingly, the Chairman, on behalf of the Commission, hereby 
certifies pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that these regulations will not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities.

B. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1955 (``PRA'') \246\ imposes certain 
requirements on Federal agencies, including the Commission, in 
connection with their conducting or sponsoring any collection of 
information, as defined by the PRA. The Commission may not conduct or 
sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of 
information unless it displays a currently valid Office of Management 
and Budget (``OMB'') control number. As discussed in the Proposal, the 
final regulations will not impose any new recordkeeping or information 
collection requirements, or other collections of information that 
require approval of OMB under the PRA.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \246\ 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Commission notes that all reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements applicable to SDs result from other rulemakings, for which 
the CFTC has sought OMB approval, and are outside the scope of 
rulemakings related to the De Minimis Exception.\247\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \247\ Parties wishing to review the CFTC's information 
collections on a global basis may do so at www.reginfo.gov, at which 
OMB maintains an inventory aggregating each of the CFTC's currently 
approved information collections, as well as the information 
collections that presently are under review.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

C. Cost-Benefit Considerations

    Section 15(a) of the CEA requires the Commission to consider the 
costs and benefits of its actions before promulgating a regulation 
under the CEA or issuing certain orders.\248\ Section 15(a) further 
specifies that the costs and benefits shall be evaluated in light of 
five broad areas of market and public concern: (1) Protection of market 
participants and the public; (2) efficiency, competitiveness, and 
financial integrity of futures markets; (3) price discovery; (4) sound 
risk management practices; and (5) other public interest 
considerations. In this section, the Commission considers the costs and 
benefits resulting from its determinations with respect to the Section 
15(a) factors.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \248\ 7 U.S.C. 19(a).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In this adopting release, the Commission is amending the De Minimis 
Exception by setting the AGNA threshold at $8 billion in swap dealing 
activity. The Proposal requested public comment on the costs and 
benefits of the proposed regulations, and specifically invited comments 
on: (1) The costs and benefits to market participants associated with 
each change; (2) the direct costs associated with SD registration and 
compliance; (3) the indirect benefits to registering as an SD; (4) the 
indirect costs to becoming a registered SD; (5) whether entities with 
dealing activity between $3 billion and $8 billion incur similar 
registration and compliance costs as compared to entities with dealing 
activity above $8 billion; (6) the costs and benefits to the public 
associated with each proposed change; (7) how each proposed change 
affects each of the Section 15(a) factors; (8) whether the Commission 
identified all of the relevant categories of costs and benefits in its 
preliminary consideration of the costs and benefits; and (9) whether 
the costs and benefits of the proposed changes, as applied in cross-
border contexts, differ from those costs and benefits resulting from 
their domestic application, and, if so, in what ways and to what 
extent.
    As part of this cost-benefit consideration, the Commission will 
discuss the costs and benefits of the adopted change and analyze the 
amendment as it relates to each of the

[[Page 56683]]

15(a) factors. The Commission notes that this consideration of costs 
and benefits is based on the understanding that the swap market 
functions internationally, with many transactions involving U.S. firms 
occurring across different international jurisdictions, with some 
prospective Commission registrants organized outside the U.S., and 
other entities operating both within and outside the U.S., and commonly 
following substantially similar business practices wherever located. 
Where the Commission does not specifically refer to matters of 
location, the discussion below of the costs and benefits of the 
regulations being adopted refers to their effects on all subject swaps 
activity, whether by virtue of the activity's physical location in the 
United States or by virtue of the activity's connection with or effect 
on U.S. commerce under CEA section 2(i).
    As discussed above, the De Minimis Exception provides an exception 
from the SD Definition for persons who engage in a de minimis amount of 
swap dealing activity. Currently, a person shall not be deemed to be an 
SD unless swaps entered into in connection with swap dealing activity 
exceed an AGNA threshold of $3 billion (measured over the prior 12-
month period), subject to a phase-in period that is currently in 
effect, during which the AGNA threshold is set at $8 billion. The 
Commission is amending the De Minimis Exception to set the AGNA 
threshold at the current $8 billion phase-in level.
    There are market-wide costs and benefits associated with setting 
the AGNA threshold at $8 billion. In addition, setting the threshold at 
$8 billion would have specific monetary costs and benefits as compared 
to a lower or higher threshold. The current $8 billion phase-in level 
threshold, along with the prospect that the threshold would decrease to 
$3 billion after December 31, 2019, in the absence of further 
Commission action, sets the baseline for the Commission's consideration 
of the costs and benefits of the proposed alternatives. Accordingly, 
the Commission considers the costs and benefits that would result from 
maintaining the current $8 billion phase-in level threshold, or 
alternatively, a threshold level below or above the current $8 billion 
threshold. The status quo baseline also includes other aspects of 
existing rules related to the De Minimis Exception. The analysis also 
takes into account any relevant no-action relief, to the extent such 
relief is being relied upon. As the Commission is of the belief that 
existing no-action relief related to the De Minimis Exception is being 
fully relied upon by market participants, the cost-benefit discussion 
that follows also considers the effects of that relief.
1. General Costs and Benefits
    There are several policy objectives underlying SD regulation and 
the de minimis exception to SD registration, which have associated with 
them general costs and benefits depending on the level of the AGNA 
threshold. As discussed above in section I.A.3, costs and benefits may 
be associated with the primary policy objectives of SD regulation, 
which include reducing systemic risk, increasing counterparty 
protections, and increasing market efficiency, orderliness, and 
transparency.\249\ The Commission also considers the costs and benefits 
associated with the policy objectives furthered by a de minimis 
exception, which include increasing efficiency, allowing limited 
ancillary dealing, encouraging new participants to enter the swap 
dealing market, and focusing regulatory resources.\250\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \249\ See also SD Definition Adopting Release, 77 FR 30628-30, 
30707-08. To achieve these policy objectives, registered SDs are 
subject to a broad range of requirements which may carry their own 
costs and benefits. These requirements include, among other things, 
registration, internal and external business conduct standards, 
reporting, recordkeeping, risk management, posting and collecting 
margin on uncleared swaps, and chief compliance officer designation 
and responsibilities. However, costs associated with regulatory 
requirements applicable to SDs result from other rulemakings and are 
outside the scope of rulemakings related to the De Minimis 
Exception.
    \250\ See id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As noted by the Commission and a few commenters, generally, the 
lower the threshold, the greater the number of entities that are 
subject to the SD-related regulatory requirements, which could decrease 
systemic risk, increase counterparty protections, and promote swap 
market efficiency, orderliness, and transparency.\251\ However, the 
Commission and most commenters recognize that a lower threshold could 
have offsetting costs for the market. For example, it is likely that a 
lower threshold would discourage new participants from entering into 
the swap market, and reduce the amount of dealing activity in which 
swap market participants engage in connection with their other 
businesses.\252\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \251\ See supra sections I.A.3 and II.B.3; 83 FR 27471-72; 77 FR 
30628-30, 30703, 30707.
    \252\ See supra sections I.A.3, II.B.1, and II.C.1; 83 FR 27448-
58, 27471-72; 77 FR 30628-30, 30703, 30707.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    On the other hand, and as discussed further below, the higher the 
threshold, the greater the number of entities that are able to engage 
in dealing activity without being required to register, which could 
increase competition and liquidity in the swap market. However, a 
higher AGNA threshold could potentially decrease the number of 
registered SDs, which could have a negative impact on achieving the 
general benefits associated with the policy objectives of SD 
regulation. This might adversely affect the swap market to some 
extent.\253\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \253\ See supra sections II.B.2 and II.C.2; 83 FR at 27454-56.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

(i) Maintaining the $8 Billion Threshold
    The comments received for this proposed amendment were generally 
supportive.\254\ As discussed in section II.C.1.i, at the $8 billion 
threshold the 2017 Transaction Coverage and 2017 AGNA Coverage ratios 
indicate that nearly all swaps were covered by SD regulation, generally 
giving rise to the benefits of SD regulation discussed above. Almost 
all swap transactions involved at least one registered SD as a 
counterparty, approximately 99 percent or greater for IRS, CDS, FX 
swaps, and equity swaps. For NFC swaps, approximately 86 percent of 
transactions involved at least one registered SD as a counterparty. 
Overall, approximately 98 percent of all swap transactions involved at 
least one registered SD. Further, almost all AGNA of swaps activity 
included at least one registered SD, approximately 99 percent or 
greater for IRS, CDS, FX swaps, and equity swaps. Further, the 
Commission notes that the 6,440 entities that did not enter into any 
transactions with a registered SD had limited activity overall. As 
discussed in the Proposal, the 6,440 entities entered into 77,333 
transactions, representing approximately 1.7 percent of the overall 
number of transactions during the review period.\255\ Additionally, 
collectively, the 6,440 entities had $68 billion in AGNA of swaps 
activity, representing approximately 0.03 percent of the overall AGNA 
of swaps activity during the review period.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \254\ See supra section II.B.1. See also ABA, AGA, AFEX/GPS, 
BDA, Capital One, Cboe SEF, Citizens, CDEU, COPE, CEWG, CMC, EEI/
EPSA, FXPA, Frost Bank, FIA, IIB, IECA, ISDA/SIFMA, JBA, M&T, NCFC, 
NRECA/APPA, NGSA, Regions, SVB, Virtu, Western Union, and XTX 
comment letters.
    \255\ 83 FR 27451.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Commission believes that this limited activity indicates that 
to the extent these entities are engaging in swap dealing activities, 
such activity is likely ancillary and in connection with other client 
services, potentially indicating that the benefits associated with the 
policy objectives of SD registration and the de minimis

[[Page 56684]]

exception are being advanced at the current $8 billion threshold. 
Additionally, setting the AGNA at $8 billion would foster efficiency 
and potentially reduce costs by allowing persons to continue to use 
existing calculation procedures and business processes that are geared 
towards the $8 billion threshold.
    Commenters generally agreed with the Commission's position. For 
example, many commenters noted that the current $8 billion threshold 
already subjects the vast majority of transactions to SD regulation, or 
that a reduced threshold would not capture significant additional 
dealing activity.\256\ Some commenters stated that the nature of the 
swaps activity entered into by certain entities poses less systemic 
risk (e.g., commercial banks that have swap dealing activity below $8 
billion, and entities that primarily enter into NFC swaps).\257\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \256\ See supra section II.B.1. See also AGA, BDA, Capital One, 
CDEU, CMC, Frost Bank, IECA, M&T, SVB, and Western Union comment 
letters.
    \257\ See supra section II.B.1. See also Citizens, IECA, NRECA/
APPA, NGSA, and SVB comment letters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    However, as discussed above, Better Markets stated that the high 
regulatory coverage ratios are not indicative of the absolute level of 
swap dealing activities relevant to SD registration, and noted that 
maintaining an $8 billion threshold would have more than a limited 
effect on counterparty protections.\258\ The Commission believes that 
while either percentage of the market or absolute level of swaps 
activity are valid considerations, it is more relevant in this context 
of achieving a desirable balance of policy goals to consider the level 
of activity as a percentage of the whole.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \258\ See supra section II.B.3.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Additionally, the Senators stated that though notional amount data 
for NFC swaps was not used in considering the Proposal, the data that 
was available for NFC swaps shows significantly less coverage for NFC 
swaps under an $8 billion threshold than in other asset classes.\259\ 
The Commission notes that with respect to NFC swaps, registered SDs 
still entered into the significant majority (86 percent) of the overall 
market's total transactions and, as noted in the Proposal, faced 83 
percent of counterparties in at least one transaction, indicating that 
the existing $8 billion threshold has helped extend the benefits of SD 
registration to much of the NFC swap market.\260\ The trading activity 
of the 42 unregistered entities with 10 or more NFC swap counterparties 
represents approximately 13 percent of the overall NFC swap market by 
transaction count. However, as compared to the existing 44 registered 
SDs with at least 10 counterparties, these 42 In-Scope Entities have 
significantly lower mean transaction and counterparty counts, 
indicating that they may only be providing ancillary dealing services 
to accommodate commercial end-user clients, also potentially indicating 
that the benefits associated with the policy objectives of the de 
minimis exception are being advanced at the current $8 billion 
threshold.\261\ The Commission believes these market-wide benefits 
demonstrate that maintaining an $8 billion threshold is also 
appropriate with respect to the NFC swap asset class.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \259\ See supra section II.B.3; Senators comment letter.
    \260\ 83 FR 27456.
    \261\ Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

(ii) $3 Billion Threshold
    The Commission is of the view that the systemic risk mitigation, 
counterparty protection, and market efficiency benefits of SD 
regulation would be enhanced in only a very limited manner if the AGNA 
threshold decreased from $8 billion to $3 billion, as would be the case 
if the current regulation and the existing Commission order 
establishing an end to the phase-in period on December 31, 2019 were 
left unchanged. As discussed, Estimated AGNA Coverage would increase 
from approximately $221,020 billion (99.95 percent) to $221,039 billion 
(99.96 percent), an increase of $19 billion (a 0.01 percentage point 
increase); Estimated Transaction Coverage would increase from 3,795,330 
trades (99.77 percent) to 3,797,734 trades (99.83 percent), an increase 
of 2,404 trades (a 0.06 percentage point increase); and Estimated 
Counterparty Coverage would increase from 30,879 counterparties (88.80 
percent) to 31,559 counterparties (90.75 percent), an increase of 680 
counterparties (a 1.96 percentage point increase).\262\ The effect of 
these limited increases is further mitigated by the fact that at the 
current $8 billion phase-in threshold, the substantial majority of 
transactions are already covered by SD regulation--and related 
counterparty protection requirements--because they include at least one 
registered SD as a counterparty. For NFC swaps, as discussed in the 
Proposal, without notional-equivalent data, it is unclear how many of 
the 42 In-Scope Entities with 10 or more counterparties that are not 
registered SDs would actually be subject to SD registration at a $3 
billion threshold.\263\ It is possible that a portion of the swaps 
activity for some or all of these entities qualifies for the physical 
hedging exclusion in paragraph (6)(iii) of the SD Definition, and 
therefore would not be considered swap dealing activity, regardless of 
the AGNA threshold level.\264\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \262\ See supra section II.C.1.ii; 83 FR 27452-54.
    \263\ See 83 FR 27456. Hypothetically, if all 42 entities 
registered, the percentage of all NFC swaps facing at least one 
registered SD would rise from approximately 86 percent to 98 
percent.
    \264\ See 17 CFR 1.3, Swap dealer, paragraph (6)(iii); supra 
section II.C.1.ii; 83 FR 27456-57.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As discussed, a lower AGNA threshold could lead to certain entities 
reducing or ceasing swaps activity to avoid registration and its 
related costs.\265\ Although the magnitude of this effect is unclear, 
reduced swap dealing activity could lead to increased concentration in 
the swap dealing market, reduced availability of potential swap 
counterparties, reduced liquidity, increased volatility, higher fees, 
wider bid/ask spreads, or reduced competitive pricing. Systemic risk 
could actually increase as a result. The end-user counterparties of 
these smaller swap dealing entities may be adversely impacted by the 
above consequences and could face a reduced ability to use swaps to 
manage their business risks.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \265\ See supra sections II.B.1 and II.C.1.ii; 83 FR 27452-54.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Most commenters generally agreed with the Commission's position. 
For example, commenters indicated that there would be a market-wide 
costs associated with a lower threshold given that if entities reduced 
or ceased swaps activity to avoid registration and its related costs, 
the small and mid-sized end-users and commercial entities who utilize 
swaps for hedging purposes and NFC swap market participants would have 
fewer dealers available to them.\266\ Two commenters indicated that the 
market-wide benefit of a lower threshold would be limited because 
Commission regulations not related to SD registration already apply to 
unregistered entities, and therefore, many of the policy goals of SD 
registration are already being advanced with respect to swaps entered 
into by these unregistered entities.\267\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \266\ See supra section II.B.1. See also ABA, AGA, AFEX/GPS, 
BDA, Capital One, Citizens, CDEU, COPE, CEWG, CMC, EEI/EPSA, Frost 
Bank, IIB, IECA, ISDA/SIFMA, JBA, M&T, NCFC, NRECA/APPA, NGSA, SVB, 
Virtu, and Western Union comment letters.
    \267\ See Citizens and Virtu comment letters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    IATP suggested that contrary to the assumption that small banks may 
avoid the swap market due to the costs of SD registration at a $3 
billion threshold, the costs and obligations of SD registration would 
not discourage swap dealing

[[Page 56685]]

when there is strong market demand for innovative swap market risk 
management products. IATP stated that the lack of participation in the 
swap market by smaller banks may be due to the smaller banks preferring 
the price transparency of the futures and options markets as compared 
to the swap market.\268\ However, as discussed, the Commission 
believes, and most commenters agree, that a lower threshold could lead 
to certain entities reducing or ceasing swaps activity.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \268\ See IATP comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    However, the Senators questioned why, given the lack of relevant 
data for NFC swaps, it is necessary to remove the phase-in reduction of 
the AGNA threshold for energy-related SDs.\269\ The Commission 
believes, and commenters generally agreed, that a reduced threshold 
would have a cost in terms of a decrease in NFC swap market liquidity 
because some entities may reduce dealing to avoid registration.\270\ 
For example, with respect to NFC swaps, EEI/EPSA and NGSA expressed 
concern that a lower AGNA threshold would provide less accommodation 
for increasing NFC prices, which could lead to market participants 
reducing their swap dealing activity to remain below the 
threshold.\271\ Further, NGSA stated that a lower threshold may reduce 
ancillary swap dealing in commodity markets and reduce counterparty 
diversity for end-users.\272\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \269\ See supra section II.B.3; Senators comment letter.
    \270\ See supra sections II.B.1 and II.C.1.ii.
    \271\ See supra section II.B.1; EEI/EPSA and NGSA comment 
letters. As stated by EEI/EPSA, if NFC prices increase, the same 
level of swaps activity would potentially have a higher notional 
amount.
    \272\ See NGSA comment letter.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Commission notes that although AGNA data was not available for 
NFC swaps, the OCC publishes the Quarterly Report on Bank Derivatives 
Activities, including end-of-quarter gross notional amount position 
data from call reports filed by insured U.S. commercial banks and 
savings associations. Although point-in-time position data is not 
directly comparable to the transaction volume calculations that are 
required for evaluating AGNA threshold calculations, the report does 
provide outstanding commodity notional amount position totals in 
comparison with IRS, CDS, FX swaps, and equity swaps. According to the 
OCC, as of the end of 2017, NFC swaps represented $1,373 billion out of 
the $171,964 billion total notional amount reported outstanding, or 
approximately 0.8 percent of the total.\273\ Although the number of 
transactions involving at least one registered SD is lower in the NFC 
swap market than other asset classes (86 percent compared to over 99 
percent for the other four asset classes), the Commission believes it 
would be inappropriate to lower the AGNA threshold to $3 billion only 
to potentially increase the registered SD coverage rate (as measured by 
transaction count) for the smallest of the five asset classes as 
measured by outstanding notional amount per the OCC Quarterly Report on 
Bank Derivatives Activities.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \273\ See OCC, Quarterly Report on Bank Trading and Derivatives 
Activities (Fourth Quarter 2017), available at https://www.occ.gov/topics/capital-markets/financial-markets/derivatives/dq318.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

(iii) Higher Threshold
    Conversely, a higher AGNA threshold would potentially decrease the 
number of registered SDs, which could have a negative impact on 
achieving the general benefits associated with the policy objectives of 
SD regulation. For example, a higher threshold would allow a greater 
amount of swap dealing to be undertaken without certain counterparty 
protections.\274\ This might impact the integrity of the swap market to 
some extent. However, the Commission is unable to quantify how the 
integrity of swap market might be harmed. On the other hand, as noted 
by the Commission and commenters, the higher the AGNA threshold, the 
greater the number of entities that are able to engage in dealing 
activity without being required to register, which could increase 
competition and liquidity in the swap market.\275\ A higher threshold 
could also allow the Commission to expend its resources on entities 
with larger swap dealing activities that warrant more oversight.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \274\ See supra section II.C.2; 83 FR 27454-56.
    \275\ See supra sections II.B.2 and II.C.2; 83 FR 27454-56.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Some commenters agreed that the small decrease in Estimated AGNA 
Coverage and Estimated Transaction Coverage at higher thresholds 
potentially indicates that increasing the threshold to up to $100 
billion may have a limited effect on the systemic risk and market 
efficiency-related benefits of SD regulation.\276\ Additionally, a 
higher threshold could enhance the benefits associated with a de 
minimis exception, for example by allowing entities to increase 
ancillary dealing activity.\277\ However, the decrease in Estimated 
Counterparty Coverage indicates that fewer entities would be 
transacting with registered SDs, reducing the counterparty protection 
benefits of SD regulation if the threshold increased from $8 billion to 
$20 billion, $50 billion, or $100 billion.\278\ The Commission also 
notes that increasing the threshold could result in changes in market 
behavior that could lead to the regulatory coverage decreasing more 
than the analysis indicated.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \276\ See supra section II.B.2. As discussed, in comparison to 
an $8 billion threshold, a $100 billion threshold would reduce the 
Estimated AGNA Coverage from approximately $221,020 billion (99.95 
percent) to $220,877 billion (99.88 percent), a decrease of $143 
billion (a 0.06 percentage point decrease). In comparison to an $8 
billion threshold, a $100 billion threshold would reduce the 
Estimated Transaction Coverage from 3,795,330 trades (99.77 percent) 
to 3,773,440 trades (99.20 percent), a decrease of 21,890 trades (a 
0.58 percentage point decrease). The decreases would be more limited 
at higher thresholds of $20 billion or $50 billion. See supra 
section II.C.2; 83 FR 27455.
    \277\ See supra sections II.B.2 and II.C.2; 83 FR 27455.
    \278\ As discussed, the data also indicates that at higher 
thresholds, there is a more pronounced decrease in Estimated 
Counterparty Coverage. The Estimated Counterparty Coverage would 
decrease from 30,879 counterparties (88.80 percent) to 28,234 
counterparties (81.19 percent), a decrease of 2,645 counterparties 
(a 7.61 percentage point decrease). The decrease would be lower at 
thresholds of $20 billion and $50 billion, at 2.80 percentage points 
and 5.71 percentage points, respectively. See supra section II.C.2; 
83 FR 27455.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Additionally, though it did not conduct an analysis of AGNA 
activity for NFC swaps, the Commission is of the view that increasing 
the AGNA threshold could potentially lead to fewer registered SDs 
participating in in the NFC swap market, similar to its observations 
with respect to IRS, CDS, FX swaps, and equity swaps discussed above in 
section II.C.2. This could reduce the number of entities transacting 
with registered SDs.
    The cost of reduced protections for counterparties would be 
realized to the extent that a higher threshold would result in fewer 
swaps involving at least one registered SD. Additionally, depending on 
how the swap market adapts to a higher threshold, it is also possible 
that the reduction in Estimated Regulatory Coverage would be greater 
than the data indicates to the extent that a higher threshold leads to 
an increased amount of swap dealing activity between entities that are 
not registered SDs. In such a scenario, Estimated Regulatory Coverage 
could potentially decrease more than the data indicates, increasing the 
general costs associated with the De Minimis Exception.
2. Direct Cost and Benefits
    As discussed in the Proposal, for any AGNA threshold, some firms 
will have AGNA of swap dealing activity sufficiently close to the 
threshold so as to require analysis to determine whether their activity 
qualifies as de minimis. Hence, (1) with a $3 billion threshold,

[[Page 56686]]

some set of entities would likely have to incur the direct costs of 
analyzing whether they would exceed the threshold, (2) with an $8 
billion threshold, a (mostly) different set of entities would have to 
continue to incur costs of analyzing their activity, and (3) with a 
higher threshold, some entities would no longer need to conduct an 
ongoing analysis of whether they would be above the new threshold, 
while other entities may begin conducting such an analysis.
    Based on the available data, the Commission estimates that if the 
AGNA threshold were set at $3 billion, approximately 22 currently 
unregistered entities would need to conduct an initial analysis of 
whether they would be above the threshold.\279\ The Commission 
estimates that the potential total direct cost of conducting the 
initial analysis for the 22 entities would average approximately 
$79,000 per entity, or approximately $1.7 million in the 
aggregate.\280\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \279\ Commission staff analyzed the swaps activity of market 
participants over a one-year period to develop this estimate. The 
estimate includes 22 In-Scope Entities that had 10 or more 
counterparties and between $1 billion and $5 billion in AGNA of 
swaps activity in IRS, CDS, FX swaps, and equity swaps. Entities 
that were already registered SDs were excluded. The estimate does 
not account for entities that primarily are entering into NFC swaps 
because notional amount information was not available for that asset 
class. See 83 FR 27474 n.191.
    \280\ This estimate is based on the following staff requirements 
for this determination: 25 hours for an OTC principal trader at 
$695/hour, 40 hours for a compliance attorney at $335/hour, 35 hours 
for a chief compliance officer at $556/hour, 80 hours for an 
operations manager at $290/hour, and 20 hours for a business analyst 
at $273/hour. These individuals would be responsible for 
identifying, analyzing, and aggregating the swap dealing activity of 
a firm and its affiliates. The estimates of the number of personnel 
hours required have been updated from the SD Definition Adopting 
Release in light of the Commission's experience in implementing the 
SD Definition.
    The estimates of the hourly costs for these personnel are from 
SIFMA's Management & Professional Earnings in the Securities 
Industry 2013 survey, modified to account for an 1800-hour work-year 
and multiplied by 5.35 to account for firm size, employee benefits, 
and overhead, which is the same multiplier that was used when the SD 
Definition was adopted. See 77 FR 30712 n.1347.
    The Commission recognizes that particular entities may, based on 
their circumstances, incur costs substantially greater or less than 
the estimated averages. See 83 FR 27474 n.192.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Certain of those entities with ongoing swap dealing activity that 
is near a $3 billion threshold may also need to conduct periodic de 
minimis calculation analyses to assess whether they qualify for the 
exception. The Commission estimates that approximately 11 entities may 
need to conduct such analyses.\281\ Further, the Commission estimates 
that the potential annual direct cost of conducting these ongoing 
analyses for those 11 entities would be approximately $40,000 per 
entity, or $440,000 in the aggregate.\282\ The projected 11 entities 
that may conduct periodic de minimis calculations represents a net 
figure, as some entities may need to conduct a periodic de minimis 
calculation, while on the other hand, some entities with AGNA near $8 
billion might be able to avoid periodic de minimis calculation costs 
because they will be certain that their AGNA exceeds the $3 billion 
threshold.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \281\ The estimate of 11 entities is approximately 50 percent of 
the 22 entities that would need to undertake an initial analysis. 
This estimate assumes that many entities would, following the 
initial analysis, determine that they would either need to register 
or choose not to engage in enough dealing activity to require 
ongoing monitoring. See 83 FR 27474 n.193.
    \282\ The Commission estimates that the ongoing analysis would 
be streamlined as a result of the initial analysis, and therefore 
would be less costly. For purposes of this calculation, the 
Commission estimates that the cost of the ongoing analysis would be 
approximately 50 percent of the cost of the initial analysis. See 83 
FR 27474 n.194.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Conversely, the Commission assumes that a higher threshold would 
permit certain entities to no longer incur ongoing costs of assessing 
whether they are above the threshold. The Commission estimates the 
savings that would result from a higher AGNA threshold of $20 billion. 
Based on the available data, the Commission estimates that if the 
threshold were set at $20 billion, approximately 29 entities would no 
longer need to conduct an ongoing analysis of whether they would be 
above the new threshold, while 4 entities may begin conducting such an 
analysis.\283\ The Commission estimates that the ongoing cost savings 
for the net 25 entities that would no longer be conducting periodic de 
minimis threshold analyses would average approximately $40,000 per 
entity, or $1 million in the aggregate per year.\284\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \283\ Commission staff analyzed the swaps activity of market 
participants over a one-year period to develop this estimate. The 
estimate includes 29 In-Scope Entities that had between $3 billion 
and $15 billion, and 4 In-Scope Entities that had between $15 
billion and $25 billion, in AGNA of swaps activity in IRS, CDS, FX 
swaps, and equity swaps, and at least 10 counterparties. The 
estimate does not account for entities that primarily are entering 
into NFC swaps because notional amount information was not available 
for that asset class. See 83 FR 27474 n.195.
    \284\ See supra note 282.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Commission notes that ABA submitted a study that evaluated the 
costs and benefits of SD registration for member banks at various AGNA 
thresholds, prepared by NERA Economic Consulting (``NERA'').\285\ 
NERA's study provided cost estimates for initial and ongoing testing of 
whether a bank holding company has exceeded the AGNA threshold, under 
various scenarios.\286\ To arrive at aggregate estimates, NERA 
estimated the per entity costs of initial and ongoing SD registration 
determination analyses, and also provided its estimates of the number 
of registrants at various AGNA thresholds, which Commission staff used 
to estimate the additional costs or cost savings at different AGNA 
thresholds, as compared to an $8 billion threshold.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \285\ See ABA comment letter (attaching NERA study).
    \286\ Although addressed by the NERA study, the costs associated 
with SD regulatory requirements (e.g., margin, reporting, 
technology, etc.) are not considered in this analysis. Costs 
associated with regulatory requirements applicable to SDs result 
from other rulemakings and are outside the scope of rulemakings 
related to the De Minimis Exception.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    First, to estimate initial and ongoing SD registration 
determination costs, NERA sent a survey to 22 bank holding companies 
that participate in the swap market and received eight responses.\287\ 
Based on these responses, NERA estimated average, one-time, upfront SD 
determination costs of $657,696 per entity \288\ (as compared to the 
Commission's estimate of approximately $79,000 per entity on average). 
Further, NERA estimated average, ongoing, SD determination costs of 
$89,209 per entity \289\ (as compared to the Commission's estimate of 
approximately $40,000 per entity on average).\290\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \287\ See ABA comment letter (attaching NERA study). To estimate 
activity, NERA applied a 1.5 assumed turnover ratio to swap position 
data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago's ``Holding Company 
Data'' for bank holding companies with greater than $10 billion in 
assets on a consolidated basis. The 1.5 adjustment factor was based 
on NERA's estimate of the typical turnover/notional holdings ratio 
to convert periodic position data into an annualized estimate of 
AGNA transaction volume.
    \288\ NERA estimated median, one-time, upfront SD determination 
costs of $188,095 per entity, significantly lower than the average 
cost of $657,696. NERA noted that initial SD determination costs 
were distributed widely, but the variation did not appear related to 
institution size or magnitude of annual swaps activity.
    \289\ NERA estimated median, ongoing, SD determination costs of 
$83,430 per entity.
    \290\ NERA also calculated a 10 year net present value estimate 
of the ongoing monitoring costs. NERA estimated the present value of 
ongoing determination costs to be $723,562 per bank holding company 
using the average estimate. Additionally, NERA's analysis included 
10 year net present value estimates of business conduct and margin 
costs, which was outside of the scope of the CFTC's analysis.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    NERA's survey of banking entities indicates significantly higher 
initial and ongoing SD determination monitoring costs than the 
Commission's cost estimates on a per entity annualized basis. NERA's 
per entity cost estimates were based on the eight responses to their 
survey, while the Commission's estimates were based on: (1) Estimates

[[Page 56687]]

of the number of personnel hours required in light of the Commission's 
experience in implementing the SD Definition; and (2) modified costs 
from SIFMA's Management & Professional Earnings in the Securities 
Industry 2013 survey.\291\ Additionally, NERA's analysis evaluated bank 
holding companies on a consolidated basis, while the Commission's 
analysis included subsidiaries of banks prior to consolidation and 
firms unrelated to banks.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \291\ See supra note 280.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Second, to estimate the number of entities that would be required 
to register at different AGNA thresholds, NERA evaluated four different 
scenarios, including various combinations of an AGNA threshold, a risk-
based threshold, and amendments to date restrictions related to the IDI 
Swap Dealing Exclusion. At various AGNA thresholds--including $3 
billion, $8 billion, and $15 billion--NERA estimated the number of bank 
holding companies expected to register as SDs for each scenario it 
evaluated. To allow for a more direct comparison with the Commission's 
estimates, the Commission made an assumption that the difference in the 
number of entities required to register at $3 billion and $15 billion 
thresholds, as compared to an $8 billion threshold, would also be the 
number of entities that would incur ongoing costs or cost savings 
related to assessing whether they would be required to register as SDs. 
Depending on the scenario evaluated, the Commission believes that NERA 
estimated that 13 to 17 additional bank holding companies would conduct 
ongoing SD registration-related analyses at the $3 billion threshold as 
compared to the $8 billion threshold.\292\ Conversely, depending on the 
scenario, the Commission believes that NERA estimated that 7 to 10 bank 
holding companies would no longer incur ongoing monitoring costs at a 
$15 billion threshold compared to an $8 billion threshold.\293\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \292\ This is based on NERA's ``Number of Banks Required To 
Register As Swap Dealer'' estimates at $3 billion compared to $8 
billion under the various scenarios. NERA did not explicitly 
calculate the number of entities that may yet incur initial 
determination costs, but instead estimated the number of entities 
that would be required to register at various thresholds.
    \293\ This is based on NERA's ``Number of Banks Required To 
Register As Swap Dealer'' estimates at $15 billion compared to $8 
billion under the various scenarios. Note that NERA did not provide 
estimates at a $20 billion threshold, and its estimates at the $15 
billion threshold are the closest for relevant comparison with 
Commission estimates at $20 billion.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In general, the Commission believes that its per entity estimated 
costs reflect the broader nature of the types of entities that would 
need to conduct such an analysis. For example, NERA's analysis focused 
on survey responses from consolidated bank holding companies, whereas 
the Commission's estimates also account for smaller financial 
institutions and non-financial entities that may have less operational 
complexity and therefore may incur lower costs in making 
determinations. Additionally, the Commission's estimates of the number 
of entities that would incur costs related to SD registration analyses 
are based on non-public SDR data on AGNA activity, while NERA's implied 
estimates are based on publicly available swap position data from the 
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago's ``Holding Company Data'' for bank 
holding companies with greater than $10 billion in assets on a 
consolidated basis.
    However, given the different methods and sources of information 
utilized, the Commission is providing a range of estimated costs or 
cost savings that combine the per entity costs and the counts of the 
number of entities required to conduct SD registration analyses, as 
estimated by the Commission and NERA. The tables below summarize the 
estimates for initial and ongoing SD determination costs. Since NERA 
conducted estimates using four different scenarios, the tables below 
include information based on the highest and lowest number of entities 
estimated by NERA at given thresholds.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \294\ For Tables 1 through 3, aggregate cost or cost savings 
estimates are calculated using a given scenario's per entity average 
cost estimate multiplied by the relevant entity count. For example, 
in Table 1, $79,000 multiplied by 22 entities equals $1,738,000.
    \295\ As discussed, the Commission considered a higher threshold 
of $20 billion, while NERA considered a higher threshold of $15 
billion.

              Table 1--Estimate of Additional Costs Incurred for Initial SD Determination Analyses
                                          [$3 Billion threshold] \294\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                   NERA high
            Per entity average cost estimate                  CFTC (22      NERA low estimate     estimate (17
                                                             entities)        (13 entities)        entities)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
CFTC--$79,000..........................................         $1,738,000         $1,027,000         $1,343,000
NERA--$657,696.........................................         14,469,312          8,550,048         11,180,832
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


              Table 2--Estimate of Additional Costs Incurred for Ongoing SD Determination Analyses
                                             [$3 Billion threshold]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                   NERA high
            Per entity average cost estimate                  CFTC (11      NERA low estimate     estimate (17
                                                             entities)        (13 entities)        entities)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
CFTC--$40,000..........................................           $440,000           $520,000           $680,000
NERA--89,209...........................................            981,299          1,159,717          1,516,553
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


             Table 3--Estimate of Cost Savings for Not Conducting Ongoing SD Determination Analyses
                                  [$15 Billion or $20 billion threshold] \295\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                   NERA high
                                                             CFTC ($20      NERA low estimate    estimate ($15
            Per entity average cost estimate                billion) (25     ($15 billion) (7     billion) (10
                                                             entities)          entities)          entities)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
CFTC--$40,000..........................................         $1,000,000           $280,000           $400,000

[[Page 56688]]

 
NERA--89,209...........................................          2,230,225            624,463            892,090
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Based on its analysis, and incorporating information provided by 
NERA, the Commission estimates that for the 13 to 22 entities at a $3 
billion AGNA threshold that may need to conduct an initial SD 
registration analyses, at per entity average costs of $79,000 to 
$657,696, the estimated aggregate initial determination cost ranges 
from $1,027,000 to $14,469,312, as indicated in Table 1.\296\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \296\ Using a different methodology, NERA estimated $2,623,925 
(median estimate) to $9,174,855 (average estimate) in remaining 
aggregate initial determination costs. The Commission notes that 
this estimate is within the $1,027,000 to $14,469,312 range 
calculated above.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Additionally, for the 11 to 17 entities at a $3 billion AGNA 
threshold that may need to conduct ongoing SD registration analyses, at 
per entity average costs of $40,000 to $89,209, the estimated aggregate 
annual ongoing monitoring cost ranges from $440,000 to $1,516,553, as 
indicated in Table 2.
    Lastly, for the 7 to 25 entities at a $15 billion or $20 billion 
AGNA threshold that would no longer need to conduct ongoing SD 
registration analyses, at per entity average cost savings of $40,000 to 
$89,209, the estimated aggregate annual ongoing monitoring cost savings 
ranges from $280,000 to $2,230,225, as indicated in Table 3.
    The Commission notes that the aggregate estimates of initial and 
ongoing SD determination and monitoring costs, based on either the 
Commission or NERA's per entity cost estimates or marginal entity count 
estimates, buttress the Commission's decision to adopt an $8 billion 
threshold and not let it decrease to $3 billion. Additionally, the 
Commission is of the view that the cost savings at $15 billion or $20 
billion thresholds would not sway its decision to maintain the 
threshold at $8 billion given the general costs and benefits discussed 
above. Lastly, in light of all the considerations, the Commission would 
come to the same conclusion, regardless of where the most accurate cost 
falls in the range of potential initial and ongoing costs.
3. Section 15(a)
    Section 15(a) of the CEA requires the Commission to consider the 
effects of its actions in light of the following five factors:
(i) Protection of Market Participants and the Public
    Providing regulatory protections for swap counterparties who may be 
less experienced or knowledgeable about the swap products offered by 
SDs (particularly end-users who use swaps for hedging or investment 
purposes) is a fundamental benefit advanced by registration of SDs. For 
example, registered SDs are required to provide mid-mark quotes and 
perform scenario analyses. However, these requirements are not in 
standard ISDA agreements and are not required of entities that deal a 
de minimis amount of swaps.
    The Commission is maintaining the current de minimis phase-in 
threshold of $8 billion in AGNA of swap dealing activity. As discussed 
above, the Commission recognizes that a $3 billion threshold may result 
in more entities being required to register as SDs compared to the 
proposed (and currently in-effect) $8 billion threshold, thereby 
extending counterparty protections to a greater number of market 
participants. However, this benefit is relatively small because, at the 
current $8 billion phase-in threshold, the substantial majority of 
transactions are already covered by SD regulation--and related 
counterparty protection requirements--since they include at least one 
registered SD as a counterparty.\297\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \297\ As discussed in section II.C.1.i, the 2017 Transaction 
Coverage ratio was approximately 98 percent.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    On the other hand, as noted above, a threshold above $8 billion may 
result in fewer entities being required to register as SDs, thus 
extending counterparty protections to a fewer number of market 
participants. Although the Estimated Transaction Coverage and Estimated 
AGNA Coverage would not decrease much at higher thresholds of up to 
$100 billion, the decrease in Estimated Counterparty Coverage is more 
pronounced at higher AGNA thresholds, potentially indicating that the 
benefit of SD counterparty protections requirements could be reduced at 
higher thresholds.
    SD registration is also intended to reduce systemic risk in the 
swap market. Pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act, the Commission has 
proposed or adopted regulations for SDs, including margin and risk 
management requirements, designed to mitigate the potential systemic 
risk inherent in the swap market. Therefore, the Commission recognizes 
that a lower threshold may result in more entities being required to 
register as SDs, thereby potentially further reducing systemic risk. 
Conversely, a higher threshold may result in fewer entities being 
required to register an SD and, thus, possibly increase systemic risk.
    However, the data appears to indicate that the additional entities 
that would need to register at the $3 billion threshold are engaged in 
a comparatively smaller amount of swap dealing activity. Many of these 
entities might be expected to have fewer counterparties and smaller 
overall risk exposures as compared to the SDs that engage in swap 
dealing in excess of the $8 billion level. Accordingly, the Commission 
believes that that the incremental reduction in systemic risk that may 
be achieved by registering dealers that engage in dealing between the 
$3 billion and $8 billion thresholds is limited.
    The data also indicates that at higher thresholds of $20 billion, 
$50 billion, or $100 billion, fewer entities would be required to 
register as SDs, though the change in regulatory coverage as measured 
by Estimated AGNA Coverage and Estimated Transaction Coverage would be 
small. Thus, the Commission believes that the increase in systemic risk 
that may occur due to a higher threshold would not be significant. 
However, depending on how the market adapts to a higher threshold, the 
level of regulatory coverage could potentially decrease more than the 
data indicates.
    The Commission believes that setting the AGNA threshold at $8 
billion will not substantially diminish the protection of market 
participants and the public as compared to a $3 billion threshold. 
Further, as discussed, the Commission does not expect that an increase 
in the threshold would

[[Page 56689]]

substantially increase the protection of market participants and the 
public.
(ii) Efficiency, Competitiveness, and Financial Integrity of Markets
    Another goal of SD registration is swap market efficiency, 
orderliness, and transparency. These market benefits are achieved 
through regulations regarding, for example, recordkeeping, reporting, 
disclosure, and risk management.
    As compared to a $3 billion threshold, an $8 billion threshold may 
have a negative effect on the efficiency and integrity of the markets 
as fewer entities are required to register as SDs and fewer 
transactions become subject to SD-related regulations. However, the 
Commission also recognizes that the efficiency and competitiveness of 
the swap market may be negatively impacted if the AGNA threshold is set 
too low, by potentially increasing barriers to entry that may stifle 
competition and reduce swap market efficiency. For example, if entities 
choose to reduce or cease their swap dealing activities in response to 
the $3 billion threshold, the number or availability of market makers 
for swaps may be reduced, which could lead to increased costs for 
potential counterparties and end-users. Conversely, a higher threshold 
may increase market liquidity, efficiency, and competition as more 
entities engage in swap dealing without SD registration as a barrier to 
entry. However, a higher threshold may also result in fewer swaps being 
subject to SD-related regulations, potentially reducing the financial 
integrity of markets.
    Considering these countervailing factors, the Commission believes 
that setting the AGNA threshold at $8 billion will not significantly 
diminish the efficiency, competitiveness, and financial integrity of 
markets as compared to a $3 billion threshold. Further, as discussed, 
an increase in the threshold would potentially have both positive and 
negative effects to the efficiency, competitiveness, and financial 
integrity of the markets.
(iii) Price Discovery
    All else being equal, the Commission believes that price discovery 
will not be harmed and might be improved if there are more entities 
engaging in ancillary dealing due to increased competitiveness among 
swap counterparties. The Commission is of the view that, as compared to 
a $3 billion threshold, an $8 billion threshold would encourage 
participation of new swap dealing businesses and promote ancillary 
dealing because those entities engaged in swap dealing activities below 
the threshold would not need to incur the direct costs of registration 
until they exceeded a higher threshold.
    Similarly, raising the threshold above $8 billion could lead to 
even more entities engaging in ancillary dealing.
    The Commission notes that some counterparties might be more likely 
to transact at off-market prices if they trade with an entity that does 
not provide mid-market quotes or scenario analyses, as would be 
required if the entity were a registered SD. If so, such transactions 
might harm post-trade price discovery since these transactions would 
occur at off-market prices.
(iv) Sound Risk Management
    The Commission notes that a higher AGNA threshold could lead to 
impaired risk management practices because a lower number of entities 
would be required by regulation to: (1) Develop and implement detailed 
risk management programs; (2) adhere to business conduct standards that 
reduce operational and other risks; and (3) satisfy margin requirements 
for uncleared swaps. For the same reason, a lower threshold could 
positively impact risk management since more entities would be required 
to comply with the above mentioned risk-related SD regulations. The 
Commission also notes that to the extent an entity that is not required 
to register as an SD at a higher threshold is a prudentially regulated 
bank, that entity would be subject to the risk management requirements 
of its prudential regulator.
(v) Other Public Interest Considerations
    The Commission has not identified any other public interest 
considerations with respect to setting the AGNA threshold at $8 billion 
in swap dealing activity.

D. Antitrust Considerations

    Section 15(b) of the CEA requires the Commission to take into 
consideration the public interest to be protected by the antitrust laws 
and endeavor to take the least anticompetitive means of achieving the 
purposes of the CEA, in issuing any order or adopting any Commission 
rule or regulation (including any exemption under section 4(c) or 
4c(b)), or in requiring or approving any bylaw, rule, or regulation of 
a contract market or registered futures association established 
pursuant to section 17 of the CEA.\298\ The Commission believes that 
the public interest to be protected by the antitrust laws is generally 
to protect competition.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \298\ 7 U.S.C. 19(b).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Commission has considered this final rule to determine whether 
it is anti-competitive and has identified no anti-competitive effects. 
Because the Commission has determined that the final rulemaking is not 
anti-competitive and has no anti-competitive effects, the Commission 
has not identified any less anti-competitive means of achieving the 
purposes of the CEA.

List of Subjects in 17 CFR Part 1

    Commodity futures, Definitions, De minimis exception, Insured 
depository institutions, Swaps, Swap dealers.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, the Commodity Futures 
Trading Commission amends 17 CFR part 1 as follows:

PART 1--GENERAL REGULATIONS UNDER THE COMMODITY EXCHANGE ACT

0
1. The authority citation for part 1 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 1a, 2, 5, 6, 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d, 6e, 6f, 6g, 6h, 
6i, 6k, 6l, 6m, 6n, 6o, 6p, 6r, 6s, 7, 7a-1, 7a-2, 7b, 7b-3, 8, 9, 
10a, 12, 12a, 12c, 13a, 13a-1, 16, 16a, 19, 21, 23, and 24 (2012).


0
2. In Sec.  1.3, amend the definition of the term ``Swap dealer'' by 
revising paragraph (4)(i)(A) and removing and reserving paragraph 
(4)(ii).
    The revision reads as follows:


Sec.  1.3  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Swap Dealer. * * *
    (4) De minimis exception--(i)(A) In general. Except as provided in 
paragraph (4)(vi) of this definition, a person that is not currently 
registered as a swap dealer shall be deemed not to be a swap dealer as 
a result of its swap dealing activity involving counterparties, so long 
as the swaps connected with those dealing activities into which the 
person--or any other entity controlling, controlled by or under common 
control with the person--enters over the course of the immediately 
preceding 12 months have an aggregate gross notional amount of no more 
than $8 billion, and an aggregate gross notional amount of no more than 
$25 million with regard to swaps in which the counterparty is a 
``special entity'' (as that term is defined in section 4s(h)(2)(C) of 
the Act, 7 U.S.C. 6s(h)(2)(C), and Sec.  23.401(c) of this chapter), 
except as provided in paragraph (4)(i)(B) of this definition. For 
purposes of this definition, if the stated notional amount of a swap is 
leveraged or enhanced by the structure of the

[[Page 56690]]

swap, the calculation shall be based on the effective notional amount 
of the swap rather than on the stated notional amount.
* * * * *

    Issued in Washington, DC, on November 6, 2018, by the 
Commission.
Robert Sidman,
Deputy Secretary of the Commission.

    Note: The following appendicies will not appear in the Code of 
Federal Regulations.

Appendicies to De Minimis Exception to the Swap Dealer Definition--
Commission Voting Summary, Chairman's Statement, and Commissioners' 
Statements

Appendix 1--Commission Voting Summary

    On this matter, Chairman Giancarlo, and Commissioners Quintenz, 
Behnam, Stump, and Berkovitz voted in the affirmative. No 
Commissioner voted in the negative.

Appendix 2--Statement of Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo

    Today's final rule on the numeric threshold for swap dealer de 
minimis will provide the market with certainty that the threshold 
will not fall from $8 billion to $3 billion. I fully support the 
proposed final rule.
    The action before us is without prejudice to all other items in 
the Commission's June 2018 NPRM. That includes various proposed rule 
amendments and other topics for consideration. Those proposals and 
considerations are clearly of wide ranging interest as evidenced by 
the public comments received. They remain under staff consideration 
pending further Commission action.
    Indeed, I will direct CFTC staff to continue their analysis of 
the range of matters raised in the June 2018 NPRM and comments 
submitted by the public.
    I will specifically ask staff to conduct a study on possible 
alternative metrics for the calculation of the swap dealer de 
minimis threshold drawing upon proposals in the June 2018 NPRM, 
including the feasibility of: (i) Removing cleared swaps from the 
current de minimis calculation; (ii) haircutting cleared swaps 
included in the current de minimis calculation; (iii) adopting a 
new, bifurcated de minimis calculation that uses initial margin 
amounts for cleared swaps and entity-netted notional amounts for 
uncleared swaps; and (iv) applying other risk-based approaches that 
the staff may recommend. I will be asking the staff for specific 
deadlines and deliverables for this work. Once staff has reviewed 
and analyzed the data, I expect that the study will be made public 
for further discussion and possible Commission consideration.
    I deliberately decline at this time to express any view on the 
appropriateness of whether any of the proposals in the June 2018 
NPRM not before us today should be addressed by CFTC unilateral 
rulemaking or joint consideration with the U.S. Securities and 
Exchange Commission (SEC).
    Be assured that SEC Chairman Clayton and I--and our fellow CFTC 
and SEC Commissioners--are committed to working together on robust 
harmonization where appropriate and working jointly where necessary 
on these and other matters.
    With respect to IDIs, staff has informed me that they would 
consider no-action relief for IDIs pending formal Commission action 
should they receive a meritorious request.
    In sum, I am hopeful that we will today provide market certainty 
that the de minimis threshold will not fall below its current level.
    Surely, it has taken a while to reach this point. Yet, I am 
hopeful that we may achieve it with a good degree of consensus 
across the full Commission. Assuming so, then we have increased 
market certainty--a very good thing in trading markets.
    Sometimes it's worth the wait.

Appendix 3--Statement of Commissioner Brian D. Quintenz

    I support today's final rule to rescind the de minimis 
threshold's scheduled reduction to $3 billion of gross notional swap 
dealing activity. Every iteration of data analysis completed by CFTC 
staff on this issue, from the 2015 Preliminary Report,\1\ to the 
2016 Final Report,\2\ to the updated data and analysis in the 2018 
June proposed rule, and to the data presented in this final rule, 
clearly and unequivocally supported eliminating this ill-conceived 
reduction. I am pleased that today's action will remove a large 
source of negative regulatory uncertainty for market participants in 
managing their swaps business and serving their customers.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ See Swap Dealer De Minimis Exception Preliminary Report 
(``Preliminary Report''), http://www.cftc.gov/idc/groups/public/@swaps/documents/file/dfreport_sddeminis_1115.pdf.
    \2\ See Swap Dealer De Minimis Exception Final Report (``Final 
Report''), https://www.cftc.gov/sites/default/files/idc/groups/public/@swaps/documents/file/dfreport_sddeminis081516.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    However, this is just the first of many necessary steps toward 
correcting what I believe is a flawed swap dealer registration 
policy. Therefore, it is my hope that today's final rule should be 
viewed with finality only in this one regard.
    The Dodd-Frank Act advanced three main and substantial policy 
objectives for swap dealer registration: Systemic risk reduction, 
counterparty protection, and enhanced swap market transparency and 
efficiency. As I have emphasized on many prior occasions, given the 
significant costs of swap dealer regulation, it is critical that the 
de minimis exception be appropriately calibrated to ensure that the 
correct market group--those best situated to realize the 
corresponding policy goals of registration--shoulders the burdens of 
swap dealer regulations.
    As I have also said repeatedly in the past, notional value is a 
poor measure of activity, and it is a meaningless measure of risk. 
Therefore, by itself, notional value is an incredibly deficient 
metric by which to impose large costs and achieve substantial policy 
objectives. A one-size-fits-all notional value test for swap dealer 
registration captures entities that engage in low volume, low risk 
activity with high notional amounts, and places those firms under 
the same regulatory regime as the world's largest, most complex 
financial institutions that deal in trillions of dollars' worth of 
swaps.\3\ The end result is that smaller firms are disincentivized 
from engaging in lower risk activity when faced with justifying the 
cost of swap dealer registration.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ See Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, ``Quarterly 
Report on Bank Trading and Derivatives Activities, Second Quarter 
2018,'' available at: https://www.occ.gov/topics/capital-markets/financial-markets/derivatives/dq218.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I have heard anecdotally from certain small to mid-sized players 
in the swap markets that the breakeven point of the costs of swap 
dealer registration as measured by a level of notional swap dealing 
activity is much higher than the $8 billion level in this rule. If 
that is the case, the current $8 billion notional threshold 
effectively forces these smaller players to curtail their swap 
dealing business, thereby limiting competition and further 
concentrating swaps activity with their larger competitors.\4\
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    \4\ For further discussion, see comment letter to CFTC from 
Financial Services Roundtable dated January 19, 2016 (``We do not 
see a benefit to requiring an entity that enters into a small number 
of swaps with a large notional amount but little exposure to choose 
between exiting the market or registering as a swap dealer, nor 
should entities that are taking on very large exposures without 
crossing a notional threshold, or a trade or counterparty count 
metric, be unregulated because they have concentrated risk in a 
small number of trades.'').
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    In my view, an appropriately calibrated de minimis exception 
would better align the criteria of the de minimisthreshold with the 
costs of swap dealer regulation, particularly the largest costs tied 
to mitigating systemic risk, like capital and margin. A de minimis 
threshold based on metrics more closely correlated with the risk of 
the products traded, as opposed to the current risk-insensitive 
notional value metric, would better measure dealing activity and 
more appropriately capture the entities warranting Commission 
oversight.
    I am pleased the Chairman continues to recognize this and has 
directed staff to study many of the alternative risk-based 
registration metrics that were suggested in the proposed rule. The 
staff report will provide the Commission with additional data and 
insights into the impact that alternative approaches may have on 
swap dealer registration. For example, staff's analysis should show 
how removing or haircutting cleared swaps from the de minimis 
calculation would impact the number and composition of firms 
required to register as swap dealers. The report will also provide 
staff with an opportunity to consider, for the first time, how a 
registration threshold tied to initial margin for cleared swaps 
could better represent a de minimis quantity of swap dealing 
activity. For uncleared products, staff can examine the impact of 
using entity-netted notional amounts, a more accurate measure of a 
firm's risk and market size, as a metric of swap dealing activity. 
The results of the staff report will be critical to any future 
Commission consideration of a

[[Page 56691]]

more risk-sensitive swap dealer registration threshold.
    In addition, many of the policy recommendations discussed in the 
proposed rule, such as better allowing insured depository 
institutions to assist their customers in hedging loan-related risks 
and excluding non-deliverable forwards from an entity's de minimis 
count--would advance the policy goals of the de minimis exception by 
encouraging greater participation and competition in the swap 
markets. I would eagerly anticipate the Commission's action on these 
important reforms. As the Commission's recent no-action letter to a 
Main Street bank this past August shows, the deficiencies of the 
current de minimis exception are beginning to squeeze firms' 
activity and constrain their ability to serve clients.\5\
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    \5\ CFTC No-Action Letter 18-20 (August 28, 2018), https://www.cftc.gov/PressRoom/PressReleases/7775-18.
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    Any de minimis threshold must always be put into context of the 
broader swaps market regulatory regime. The Commission is not 
establishing the de minimis exception in a vacuum. Since the swap 
dealer definition was adopted in 2012, a broad range of rigorous 
regulatory requirements have gone into effect which also advance the 
goals of swap dealer registration, such as mandatory clearing, SEF 
trading, swap data reporting, and margin requirements for uncleared 
swaps.
    The Commission's regulatory framework for the swap market has 
greatly evolved from its state six years ago; it is only common 
sense that the swap dealer registration threshold should evolve as 
well. It will be a great day when financial regulators, including 
the CFTC, finally move away from gross notional value as any sort of 
metric or test of derivatives exposure, activity, or risk. I look 
forward to that day, and I am committed to working with the 
Chairman, my fellow Commissioners, and our staff to make sure we get 
the swap dealer de minimis exception policy right.

Appendix 4--Concurring Statement of Commissioner Rostin Behnam

    Today, the Commission acts decisively to set the aggregate gross 
notional amount (``AGNA'') threshold for the de minimis exception at 
$8 billion in swap dealing activity entered into by a person over 
the preceding 12 months. I am comfortable supporting today's final 
rule because it is limited to establishing a clear and certain de 
minimis threshold. While I was unable to support the proposed rule--
which moved the Commission far beyond the task before it towards 
unilaterally redefining swap dealing activity absent meaningful, 
congressionally-required collaboration with the Securities and 
Exchange Commission (``SEC'')--I am gratified that the Commission is 
not moving forward with aspects of the Proposal which would have 
further complicated the distinction between dealing and non-dealing 
activities.\1\ Such action would have been detrimental to market 
participants. To the extent the Commission continues to consider 
addressing long standing concerns with the IDI Swap Dealing 
Exclusion,\2\ ambiguity regarding the treatment of swaps used for 
hedging, or relief applicable to swaps that result from multilateral 
portfolio compression exercises, it should do so jointly with the 
SEC.
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    \1\ De Minimis Exception to the Swap Dealer Definition, 83 FR 
27444, 27481-2 (proposed June 12, 2018).
    \2\ If the proposed IDI Minimis Provision truly better aligns 
the swap dealer regulatory framework with the risk mitigation 
demands of bank customers, as commenters suggested, then it would 
seem that there should be few hurdles in the way of the CFTC and SEC 
engaging to reconsider the parameters of the IDI Swap Dealing 
Exclusion.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

NFC Swap Data

    Today's decision to maintain the AGNA threshold at $8 billion 
follows a period of prolonged uncertainty during which Commission 
staff conducted more complete data analysis regarding the de minimis 
exception.\3\ While swap data repository (``SDR'') data quality has 
improved, AGNA data was unavailable for non-financial commodity 
(``NFC'') swaps.\4\ Nevertheless, Commission staff used counterparty 
and transaction counts and a series of assumptions to analyze likely 
swap dealing activity in the NFC swap market and concluded that 
reducing the $8 billion AGNA threshold could lead to reduced 
liquidity in NFC swaps, negatively impacting end-users and 
commercial entities who utilize NFC swaps for hedging.\5\ The 
Commission further relied upon findings and comments that the unique 
characteristics of the NFC swap market pose less systemic risk than 
financial swaps.\6\
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    \3\ 83 FR 27445-6.
    \4\ 83 FR 27445.
    \5\ 83 FR 27450, 27456-7.
    \6\ 83 FR 27457; Final Rule, De Minimis Exception to the Swap 
Dealer Definition, section II.C.1.ii (to be codified at 17 CFR pt. 
1).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    It is my hope that Commission staff will continue to examine and 
monitor data and activities in the NFC swap market to ensure that 
concentrated activity by unregistered NFC counterparties in segments 
of that swap market, such as in energy-related swaps, do not present 
outsized risk or harm to end-users, and most importantly, the 
general public.

Appendix 5--Statement of Commissioner Dan M. Berkovitz

    I support amending the swap dealer de minimis exception to set 
the threshold at $8 billion. This limited amendment relies on 
extensive data analysis to achieve a balance between the policy 
objectives of the de minimis exception and the registration of swap 
dealers.
    At the outset, I would like to acknowledge the leadership of 
Chairman Giancarlo and the efforts of my fellow Commissioners to 
achieve consensus on this rulemaking. I look forward to working 
together to continue to find areas of agreement where it makes sense 
for our markets and the American people.

Data-Driven Rulemaking

    Title VII of the Dodd-Frank Act directed the Commodity Futures 
Trading Commission (``Commission'') and the U.S. Securities and 
Exchange Commission (``SEC'') to jointly further define, among other 
things, the term ``swap dealer.'' \1\ At the same time, Congress 
enacted Section 1a(49)(D) of the Commodity Exchange Act (``CEA''), 
which directed the Commission to exempt from designation as a swap 
dealer entities that engage in a de minimis quantity of swap 
dealing.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, 
section 712(d)(1), Public Law 111-203, 124 Stat. 1376 (2010) (the 
``Dodd-Frank Act'').
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In 2012, the Commission--jointly with the SEC--adopted the 
further definition of the term swap dealer. In this rulemaking, the 
de minimis swap dealing threshold was set at $3 billion. However, 
recognizing that a lack of swap trading data made it difficult to 
set an appropriate threshold, the Commission implemented a long 
phase-in period during which the threshold was set at $8 billion.\2\ 
The regulation directed Commission staff to study the data on swap 
dealing activity that would be collected through swap data 
repositories (``SDRs'') and publish a report for public comment, 
enabling the Commission at a later time to make a data-based 
judgment regarding the de minimis quantity threshold.\3\
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    \2\ See 17 CFR 1.3, Swap dealer, paragraph (4)(i)(A); see also 
Further Definition of ``Swap Dealer,'' ``Security-Based Swap 
Dealer,'' ``Major Swap Participant,'' ``Major Security-Based Swap 
Participant'' and ``Eligible Contract Participant,'' 77 FR 30596, 
30633-34 (May 23, 2012) (``SD Adopting Release'').
    \3\ 17 CFR 1.3, Swap dealer, paragraph (4)(ii)(B).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    To this end, the staff built a comprehensive database to 
aggregate data from all four SDRs. Over several years, the staff 
developed and refined new techniques to sort and evaluate the data, 
published two reports on the de minimis exception, and continued to 
revise its analysis in response to public comments. This process was 
not without considerable challenges, but the staff worked diligently 
to produce meaningful, data-driven information to guide the 
Commission's decision-making regarding the appropriate de minimis 
threshold.
    This effort provided a highly significant data point: 
Approximately 98 percent of all swap transactions involved at least 
one registered swap dealer. We now know that at the $8 billion 
threshold, nearly all swap transactions benefit from swap dealer 
regulation.
    The staff's analysis also showed that reducing the threshold to 
$3 billion would have a minimal impact on the amount of swaps 
activity that would be subject to swap dealer regulation. Indeed, 
based on the analysis, reducing the threshold to $3 billion would 
only add swap dealer coverage to less than one-tenth of one percent 
of reported swaps. By the same token, the analysis demonstrated that 
increasing the threshold quantity above $8 billion would have almost 
no impact on the amount of swaps subject to dealer regulation until 
that threshold reaches a significantly higher level. At those 
levels, the effect on specific categories of swaps--notably non-
financial commodity swaps (``NFC'')--becomes much more significant.
    When considering amending a rule, the Commission should consider 
both the

[[Page 56692]]

benefits and costs from those rule changes. Here, data analysis has 
shown that the benefits of changing the current $8 billion threshold 
are relatively small because nearly all swap activity is already 
covered by dealer regulation.
    On the other hand, decreasing the threshold from its current 
level would impose tangible costs on market participants. If the 
threshold were lowered to $3 billion, unregistered dealers that are 
currently under the $8 billion level, but that could exceed the $3 
billion threshold, would have to re-evaluate whether swap dealing in 
excess of $3 billion would continue to make business sense. The de 
minimis rulemaking proposal \4\ noted that this issue is 
particularly important in the NFC swap market. The staff's data 
analysis showed that many of the smaller swap dealers for physical 
commodities are physical commodity producers, distributors, 
consumers, or merchandizers. Swap dealing is an ancillary business 
for them. Where the costs of registering as a swap dealer exceed 
anticipated benefits, it is likely that many of these entities would 
withdraw from providing swap dealing services to their customers. 
That would leave many end users looking to hedge their risks with 
either no dealers available, or very few dealers to provide 
competitive pricing.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ Notice of proposed rulemaking, De Minimis Exception to the 
Swap Dealer Definition, 83 FR 27444 (June 12, 2018).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Commission should seek to preserve and foster competition 
for swap dealer services. One of the fundamental purposes of the CEA 
is to ``promote . . . fair competition among boards of trade, other 
markets and market participants.'' \5\ American businesses 
throughout the country that need to use swaps to hedge their risks 
should not be forced to rely solely on large Wall Street banks. 
Retaining the de minimis threshold at $8 billion will help preserve 
competition and choice for American businesses for these swap 
dealing services.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \5\ 7 U.S.C. 5(b).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    It is important to note that this rulemaking represents one of 
the first times in which the Commission has relied on SDR data to 
set policy, and the staff that undertook this principled and 
thorough analysis should be commended for their efforts. Given the 
technological advancements in data collection and analysis, 
effective use of data to inform policy making is critical for the 
Commission to meet its policy objectives of fostering open, 
transparent, competitive, and financially sound markets.
    In sum, the data demonstrates that the current de minimis 
threshold level is largely accomplishing its intended purposes. 
Where the current regulations are working, regulatory stability also 
is an important objective. Accordingly, after considering the 
results of the swap data analysis, relevant policy implications, and 
limited benefits and potential costs of altering the de minimis 
threshold quantity, I believe that maintaining the threshold at $8 
billion is appropriate and sound public policy.

Physical Commodity Swaps

    The proposal noted that Commission staff encountered challenges 
in measuring the aggregate gross notional amount of NFC swaps. 
Instead, the staff used counterparty and transaction counts to 
approximate swap dealing activity for NFC swaps. The staff's 
analysis indicated that fewer NFC swap transactions--86 percent--
involved at least one registered swap dealer, as opposed to 99 
percent for other swap categories.
    The market participants who use physical commodity swaps to 
hedge their risks typically include farmers, ranchers, farm product 
processors, energy producers and consumers, manufacturers, and other 
end users. These consumer-facing businesses need a properly 
functioning physical commodity derivatives marketplace to maintain 
consistent prices for their customers. Ultimately, the American 
people benefit from stable prices on the products that these 
businesses produce and distribute.
    I am therefore calling on the Commission to continue to focus on 
improving our data collection and analysis for NFC swaps. More 
robust data collection will help us improve regulation in this 
space, including considering ways to balance the benefits of de 
minimis swap dealing in physical commodities with the need for 
customer protections and the other benefits of swap dealer 
registration.

Joint Rulemaking Required for Swap Dealer Definition

    I am voting today solely in favor of setting the de minimis 
exception threshold quantity at $8 billion because it is within the 
Commission's authority to do so. Looking forward, however, I will 
not support other amendments to the swap dealer definition without a 
joint rulemaking with the SEC, as required by the Dodd-Frank Act.
    In addition to setting the threshold level, the proposal sought 
to alter the swap dealer definition by excluding from counting 
toward that de minimis threshold: (1) Swaps entered into by an 
insured depository institution (``IDI'') in connection with 
originating loans; (2) swaps hedging financial or physical 
positions; and (3) swaps resulting from multilateral portfolio 
compression exercises. The proposal also asked questions about 
excluding from the threshold calculation swaps that are cleared and/
or exchange traded and non-deliverable forwards.
    Although the Commission is not adopting these provisions today, 
my view is that any such changes would effectively amount to an 
amendment of the swap dealer definition, not the de minimis 
exception. Doing so unilaterally and not as a joint rulemaking with 
the SEC would be contrary to the statutory language and inconsistent 
with Congressional intent.
    When Congress enacted Title VII of the Dodd-Frank Act, its 
intent was clear: ``[T]he [Commission] and the [SEC], in 
consultation with the Board of Governors, shall further define the 
term[] . . . `swap dealer,' '' among other terms.\6\ Congress 
clarified that the Commission must use the joint rulemaking process 
to make any other rules regarding these definitions that it and the 
SEC determine are necessary for the protection of investors.\7\ To 
underscore this point, Congress noted that rules prescribed jointly 
by the Commission and the SEC under Title VII must be ``comparable 
to the maximum extent possible,'' and that any interpretation of, or 
guidance regarding, a provision of the Dodd-Frank Act would be 
effective only if issued jointly by the Commission and the SEC.\8\ 
Pursuant to this statutory directive, the agencies adopted a joint 
rulemaking to define ``swap dealer'' and ``security-based swap 
dealer.''
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    \6\ Dodd-Frank Act, section 712(d)(1).
    \7\ Dodd-Frank Act, section 712(d)(2)(A).
    \8\ Dodd-Frank Act, section 712(d)(2)(D).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Congress created one exception to the joint rulemaking 
requirement. CEA subsection 1a(49)(D) authorizes ``the Commission'' 
to exempt from designation as a swap dealer ``an entity that engages 
in a de minimis quantity of swap dealing'' and ``to establish 
factors with respect to the making of this determination to 
exempt.'' \9\ The Commission included this de minimis exception in 
paragraph 4 of the swap dealer definition, notably separate from 
other provisions in the definition addressing the IDI exclusion 
(paragraph 5) and the physical hedging exclusion (paragraph 6).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \9\ 7 U.S.C. 1a(49)(D) (emphasis added).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    By its terms, the de minimis exception relates solely to 
exempting a numerical quantity of swap dealing activity. Under the 
statutory structure, the Commission and the SEC must jointly 
determine which activities are dealing activities and therefore must 
be counted toward the threshold; the Commission itself may set a 
numerical quantity of such dealing as a threshold for registration. 
Put simply, deciding ``which'' activity gets counted must be done 
jointly; deciding ``how much'' of that activity triggers the 
registration requirement may be done singly.
    The proposal framed these additional proposed changes to the 
swap dealer definition as ``factors'' in the de minimis threshold 
determination. In doing so, the proposal sought to use the 
Commission's unilateral authority to ``establish factors'' as 
provided in the second sentence in CEA subsection 1a(49)(D). 
However, that interpretation is a misreading of the statutory 
provision. The second sentence in CEA subsection 1a(49)(D) 
authorizes the Commission to promulgate regulations to ``establish 
factors with respect to the making of this determination to 
exempt.'' \10\ The words ``this determination'' clearly refer to the 
quantity determination in the first sentence of the subsection: 
``[t]he Commission shall exempt from designation as a swap dealer an 
entity that engages in a de minimis quantity of swap dealing in 
connection with transactions with or on behalf of its customers.'' 
\11\ In other words, the ``factors'' referred to in the second 
sentence relate to the numerical quantity determination in the first 
sentence; this sentence does not create a distinct directive 
authorizing the Commission to independently determine what 
constitutes swap dealing.\12\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \10\ Id.
    \11\ Id. (emphasis added).
    \12\ In the preamble of the SD Adopting Release, the Commission 
discussed the factors envisioned by Section 1a(49)(D). For example, 
the preamble provided that the Commission could consider whether the 
de minimis exception would ``lead[] to an undue amount of dealing 
activity to fall outside the ambit of Title VII regulatory 
framework, or lead[] to inappropriate reductions in counterparty 
protections (including protections for special entities).'' SD 
Adopting Release, 77 FR 30635.

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[[Page 56693]]

    This point is clear when we examine what would happen if each of 
the five categories of swap dealing activity identified in the 
proposal as ``factors'' (i.e., IDI, physical hedging, multilateral 
portfolio compression exercises, cleared and/or exchange traded, and 
non-deliverable forwards) were removed from the definition of swap 
dealing through this interpretation of the de minimis exception. 
Combined, these five categories of swaps likely total more than half 
of the notional amount traded. There would appear to be no limit to 
what dealing activity could be excluded from dealer regulation 
through the de minimis exception by framing whole categories of 
swaps to be excluded as ``factors.'' The Commission could 
effectively determine unilaterally what constitutes swap dealing. 
The de minimis exception would swallow the swap dealer definition. 
This result cannot be reconciled with the Dodd-Frank Act's joint 
rulemaking requirement.
    For these reasons, while I am amenable to considering further 
refinements to the swap dealer definition and what gets counted as 
dealing, I am of the view that this cannot be accomplished without 
joint rulemaking with the SEC.

[FR Doc. 2018-24579 Filed 11-9-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 6351-01-P