Capital Markets

Introduction

The oldest multi-governmental financial institution, the Basel-based Bank for International Settlements, publishes one of the most authoritative overviews of the financial system’s state of play in the form of its annual report. This year’s report was published in late June. Although the banking system remains central to its work, in view of the intertwining of bank and capital markets financing and trading, for some decades now the two components have grown ever more inseparable. Both now figure at length in the report.

Every June, the Bank for International Settlements (‘BIS’) publishes one of the most influential texts for finance, its annual report. It covers the bank’s own activities, to be sure; but critically for all other actors, it sets forth the content and direction of high-level, central bank thinking on their plans.

This year, two elements were pre-published, which is unusual. This may indicate a particular need felt to inform the market on both progress and planning for macroprudential regulation, mainly of banks, but not only; and to comment also on the crypto-currencies vogue, and the problems arising from them – not least environmental given the need for enormous computing power required of distributed ledgers.

A discussion of findings following the recent on-site operational review of the Polish securities market

After a multitude of articles on the policy objectives of MiFID II, the new obligations of the buy- and sell-side on research and trade reporting, and the new requirements for transparency in fixed-income markets, Thomas Murray finds itself in the position of having to see how trading begins to adapt as the Directive comes into effect at the start of the year. Specialising in post-trade infrastructures and services, its business lines are not in the immediate lines of fire of this reform – its clients are, but in other of their activities.

The authorities with whom we have spoken caution that the new shape of the EU capital markets will not take form immediately, judging from how long it took to see with any certainty recurring patterns in trading after the implementation of Regulation NMS in the US and MiFID I in the EU. We have been advised to expect a period of 12-18 months in which time the order flows and ways of execution will have settled under this new regime, assuming that this adaptation is not unduly thrown off course by world events, unforeseen technological changes, and of course economic and financial changes that would alter significantly today’s outlook on trading and investment conditions. This truly is a complex mix of variability, one which does not give even the keenest of observers a clear view ahead.

MiFID II is much discussed, and rightly so. It is a major capital markets Directive affecting a large chunk of the world’s financial system, with effects that will be felt across the world. How this will play out in a practical sense is one of the unknowns of these coming months and longer. Market professionals appreciate that its precursor, MiFID, came to have a major influence on the way capital markets trading takes place, notably in the fragmentation of Europe’s national equity markets.

And with just over three months before MiFID II comes into force at the start of January, there is indeed much hard preparatory work underway, head-scratching, confusion, repositioning of businesses, and human resources redeployment. Given the changes in trade reporting, the IT component is heavy – and it was difficulties with IT preparations that led to a one-year reprieve.

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