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Basel Committee consults on FX Transaction Settlement Risk

Since the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision’s Supervisory guidance for managing settlement risk in foreign exchange transactions (2000) was published, the foreign exchange market has made significant strides in reducing the risks associated with the settlement of FX transactions. Substantial FX settlement-related risks remain, however, not least because of the rapid growth in the FX trading.

The consultative document (issued by the BCBS) aims to review and update the last supervisory guidance in order to ensure that such risks are properly managed: it will provide a more comprehensive and detailed view on governance arrangements and the management of principal risk, replacement cost risk and all other FX settlement-related risks. In addition, it promotes the use of payment-versus-payment arrangements, where practicable, to reduce principal risk.

The guidance is organised into seven "guidelines" that address governance, principal risk, replacement cost risk, liquidity risk, operational risk, legal risk, and capital for FX transactions. The key recommendations emphasise the following:

  • A bank should ensure that all FX settlement-related risks are effectively managed and that its practices are consistent with those used for managing other counterparty exposures of similar size and duration. 
  • A bank should reduce its principal risk as much as practicable by settling FX transactions through the use of FMIs that provide PVP arrangements. Where PVP settlement is not practicable, a bank should properly identify, measure, control and reduce the size and duration of its remaining principal risk.
  • A bank should ensure that when analysing capital needs, all FX settlement-related risks should be considered, including principal risk and replacement cost risk and that sufficient capital is held against these potential exposures, as appropriate.

The Basel Committee welcomes comments on this consultative document. Comments should be submitted by 12 October 2012.

Although this does not affect corporates directly, the request for comments and the key recommendations do show that FX settlement risk has not gone away. Indeed, given how unstable many banks are at present, it has probably grown. Maybe it is time to consider joining CLS?

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