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Dodd-Frank Ups Probability in Increased Swap Margin Requirements for SWFs

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is now a U.S. federal statute and signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama.  Now that the law is in place, U.S. agencies such as the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Federal Reserve Board are drafting proposals under newly minted regulatory powers, especially in the area of swap margin requirements and classifying swap participants.  Counterparty risk cannot be understated and it furthered the slogan “too big to fail”.  The agencies are proposing to include sovereign funds as “financial end users” or “financial entities”.  If this proposal passes, this will increase their margin requirements, essentially mandating sovereign wealth funds to pledge their assets to back American financial institutions.   This brings further issues to light, since some sovereign funds may need legislative or committee action to enlarge the amount of pledged assets to meet margin calls.  There is also political risk that foreign governments might counteract by providing similar legislation against the U.S. government.

Under the proposal, they state:

“The Commission notes that these types of sovereign counterparties do not fit easily into the proposed rule’s categories of financial and nonfinancial entities. In comparing the characteristics of sovereign counterparties with those of financial and nonfinancial entities, the Commission preliminarily believes that the financial condition of a sovereign will tend to be closely linked with the financial condition of its domestic banking system, through common effects of the business cycle on both government finances and bank losses, as well as through the safety net that many sovereigns provide to banks.

Such a tight link with the health of its domestic banking system, and by extension with the broader global financial system, makes a sovereign counterparty similar to a financial entity both in the nature of the systemic risk and the risk to the safety and soundness of the covered swap entity. As a result, the Commission preliminarily believes that sovereign counterparties should be treated as financial entities for purposes of the proposed rule’s margin requirements.”

Source: U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission

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Institutional Investors Remain Skeptical as Bitcoin Continues to Rise

Bitcoin has continued to rally over the past month – hitting a record US$ 8,224 in the early hours of November 20 – and institutional investors are beginning to take notice of the cryptocurrency’s increasing popularity. With a market value of more than US$ 130 billion, the digital currency has seen unprecedented growth of over 700% over the past year. But Bitcoin’s rise has also been marked by a number of volatile slumps, leaving institutional investors divided over its durability as a long-term store of value and wondering whether to get in on the action. Despite these headwinds, more than 100 hedge funds have been formed to trade in digital currencies.

Split Consensus on Wall Street

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3 Reasons Why Other Sovereign Funds Will Not Dump Oil Stocks

Norges Bank informed the country’s ministry of finance to recommend the wealth fund to remove oil and gas listed equities from the fund’s benchmark index. The central bank came to the conclusion that Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) would be less vulnerable to a permanent drop in oil prices if the wealth fund was not invested in oil and gas listed equities. For some academics there are arguments that wealth funds should diversify away from their sources of wealth. Contradictory studies have demonstrated that wealth funds should support industries that enhance the country’s sources of wealth. For example, earlier on, Norway’s fossil fuel wealth was buoyed by increased capital investment to the oil sector to increase output, a pre-cursor to the wealth fund’s explosive growth.

1. Stock Performance
For some sovereign investors, investments in master limited partnership in oil and gas have been strong driver of returns, or even in smaller fossil fuel listed companies. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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GIC Financially Backs Innovation Precinct Project in Melbourne

Singapore’s GIC Private Limited acquired a majority interest in a joint project located in Melbourne, Australia. The joint project is between Sydney-based Lendlease, Australia-based Urbanest and GIC. In 2014, the project was labeled Carlton Connect Initiative with the goal of being an innovation hub.

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