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Trading platforms: Papering over the cracks

With various trading platforms reporting record volumes, it would be easy to think that foreign exchange had emerged from the wider market turmoil in the rudest of health. But some market participants fear that serious fault lines have been discovered in derivatives.

Jonathan Butterfield, CLS Bank

"In order to help the industry cope with the high volumes, CLS allowed its members more time to submit these exceptional volumes and stayed open for an extended period during the weekend" Jonathan Butterfield, CLS Bank

Ostensibly, the foreign exchange market coped more than adequately with the surge in activity resulting from global risk aversion in August, and several platforms reported record levels of activity. Icap disclosed that $456 billion changed hands on its EBS spot platform on August 16, a near 50% increase on its previous record day of $306.8 billion set at the end of July. Given EBS’s leading position at the market’s hub, the activity on its platform serves as a relatively reliable barometer for what was also occurring on other trading systems. There are few reports of any major problems further along the deal chain. While it is true that CLS Bank extended its settlement period into the weekend starting August 17, this seems to have been done to ease the pressure on its member banks rather than because of any structural problems.

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