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Five years on: is Dodd-Frank a failure for corporate treasury?

President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act into federal law five years ago. Since then, significant progress has been made in implementing derivatives market reforms. But according to the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA), a number of outstanding issues need to be resolved.

Much of the framework contained in the Dodd-Frank Act is now in place but Scott O’Malia, ISDA’s CEO, noted that opinions about the law vary widely, which is not surprising given its scope and scale.

Progress has been made in implementing clearing mandates, trade execution requirements and reporting and transparency obligations.

The statement from ISDA also notes that some of the challenges ahead include a lack coordination and cooperation between global legislators and regulators. As a result of this, there are discrepancies in implementation schedules and in the substance of the regulation in different jurisdictions, leading to the fragmentation of global liquidity pools – which could have a serious impact on corporate cash management. According to ISDA's statement, “This reduces choice, increases costs, and could make it more challenging for derivatives users to enter into or unwind large transactions, particularly in stressed market conditions.” The association makes several recommendations for targeted amendments, which can be read here.

Moreover, the regulation has come in for strong criticism in some corners of the press. Tim Worstall, writing in Forbes, suggests that Dodd-Frank is actually making the system “more fragile, not more secure”. He also argues that the law's stance on loan syndication (requiring banks to retain a slice of mortgage-backed securities) is concentrating risk not decreasing it.

A piece in the Wall Street Journal by Jeb Hensarling, a Republican congressman from Texas and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, branded the Dodd-Frank Act “a failure”, saying: “Big banks are bigger, small banks are fewer, and the financial system is less stable.” While an article in the Telegraph blazes with the headline 'Regulators could be responsible for next financial crash'.

As a corporate treasurer, has the Dodd-Frank Act had an impact on your global cash management structure or your use of derivative instruments? Do you feel reassured that our banks are now more stable as a result of the regulation? How would you sum up the impact of this US regulation, five years after its introduction? Please let us know what you think in the comments box below.

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