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Bill Radke: President Obama’s agenda for reforming financial markets took a little step forward yesterday. The House Financial Services Committee approved a bill aimed at taming the wild market for over-the-counter derivatives. Our own Steve Henn explains.
Steve Henn: Companies use derivatives as a way to hedge against risk. If you run an airline you can lock in your fuel prices — if your investing billions overseas you can lock in an exchange rate. But big financial firms use this market as a way to speculate and profit from swings in interest rates, spikes in fuel prices, even some types of debt defaulting.
One big problem for regulators has been some of this trading occurs out of sight. The new bill would force many derivative trades onto exchanges, where transactions could be tracked. And risks to the economy monitored.
Next on the House’s agenda is a vote on the Consumer Financial Products Agency. It mission would be to protect borrows from abusive loans. These bills will eventually be rolled together into one large reform package. A full House vote on that is expected on that sometime next month.
I’m Steve Henn for Marketplace