March 11, 2014 Articles

Enforcement Shifts Energy-Trading Strategies

Finding the sweet spot between maximizing profits and mitigating risks will be more challenging.

By Julie Carey, Cliff Hamal, and Ben Ullman – March 11, 2014

Since 2012, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) have levied hundreds of millions of dollars in fines against companies for violating commodity-market rules, including, most notably, each agency’s market-manipulation statutes. In most instances, the fines focused on market-participant behavior involving trading activities within both the physical and financial markets, such as financial-market trading activities that benefit positions in physical markets. The dramatic increase in enforcement actions is coupled with regulators hiring more staff and increasing the volume and type of data available for their review. These changes represent a shift toward more active oversight at the agencies and suggest greater enforcement risks for today’s complicated physical- and financial-market trading activities. Yet, even with identification of this new risk, the way in which trading will adapt to this heightened focus on manipulation remains to be seen.

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