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CFTC Appeal to Overturn Limiting Speculation
CFTC Appeal to Overturn Limiting Speculation

According to a Commodity Futures Trading Commission official, the CFTC staff have recommended the agency appeal a federal court decision to overturn a rule limiting speculation in commodity markets. The CFTC general counsel is circulating a memo on the decision, asking the five commissioners to vote on an appeal, according to the CFTC official. On September 28, a federal court tossed out the rule, ruling in favor of two Wall Street trade groups that had presented the challenge. U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins tossed out the limits, which would have gone into effect Friday September 12, saying they were not properly justified by the agency. CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler said he was disappointed by the decision and that his agency was reviewing how to proceed. CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton said last week that the commission should appeal. The CFTC, which regulates trading in commodity futures, options and other financial derivatives, could rewrite the rule and strengthen its justification for the new regulation. The commission argued that the limits were mandated by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulation law, but the court ruled that the law was ambiguous. The rule aimed to cap the size of trading positions that firms could take in certain commodity contracts, including a variety of energy and precious-metals commodities, to curb any one trader's influence. It additionally extended restrictions to custom derivatives trades, or swaps. The limits gained traction following a spike in oil prices during 2008, which some attributed to excessive speculation by short-term traders. The decision does not affect position limits designed to protect agricultural and livestock commodities that were in place before Dodd-Frank was enacted

The New York-based private research group - Conference Board reported Tuesday that a gauge of employment trends decreased during September for a third decline in four months which signals that employment growth may weaken in Q4. The employment-trends index decreased 0.34% in September and is designed to forecast turning points in employment. "The U.S. economy entered a soft patch in the spring and the result has been lackluster job growth, which is likely to continue through the first half of 2013," said Gad Levanon, macroeconomic research director. The employment-trends index is made up of eight labor-market indicators, five of which made negative contributions during September, led by a ratio of involuntarily part-time to all part-time workers. September's index level is up 5.4% from 2011 and the index reached 107.86 in September, compared with 100 in 1996.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara filed a civil lawsuit against Wells Fargo Bank NA (WFC) for millions of dollars in damages for mortgage fraud. "As the complaint alleges, yet another major bank has engaged in a longstanding and reckless trifecta of deficient training, deficient underwriting and deficient disclosure, all while relying on the convenient backstop of government insurance," said Bharara. The lawsuit alleges that the bank's bonus program which rewarded employees based on the number of loans approved, contributed to the "fire already burning, as quality repeatedly took a back seat to quantity." Shares of Wells Fargo were off by 2% into late afternoon trading on Tuesday.

The International Monetary Fund said Tuesday that France, Spain and several other euro-zone governments will not hit budget deficit targets agreed with European authorities. The move sets the stage for a contentious debate over whether the governments should pursue more cuts or allow the targets to slip. Governments across the European Union have been raising taxes and slashing spending to bring their deficits back in line with the bloc's budget rules which call for deficits to remain under 3% of gross domestic product. Weak growth along with the recession - partially due to previous rounds of austerity - have made the deficit targets difficult to hit and sparked growing political discontent in many of the EU's 27 member states. In its semi-annual economic, the IMF said they expect France's deficit to be 4.7% of GDP for 2012 and 3.5% of GDP by the end of 2013. France has pledged to cut its deficit to 3% of GDP in 2013. To hit the target, the Socialist government of President Francois Hollande unveiled a package of austerity measures in September which includes a 75% tax on incomes over 1 million Euros. The IMF said in 2013, Spain's deficit is expected to hit 5.7% of GDP which is well above the target of 4.5% of GDP. Earlier this year, EU authorities and finance ministers already relaxed Spain's target in the face of a recession that has pushed the country's unemployment rate to over 25%. Italy too is set to miss its deficit target of 0.5% of GDP next year, even though they have been complying with the 3% budget rule. The IMF sees Italy's deficit for 2012 at 1.8% of GDP. Pursuing more cuts to hit next year's deficit targets would further roil Europe's political waters and test the powers of these governments to push more austerity through restive national parliaments. The EU's executive arm, the European Commission, is set in the coming weeks to review national austerity programs, making its own determination about whether the programs will hit the budget targets. If the EU commission believes the numbers don't add up, it will discuss with other EU governments in the coming months whether to seek further cuts or relax the 2013 targets for the governments in question. New rules give the commission the power to fine euro-zone governments that do not comply with its recommendations. Amid the country's sharply deteriorating economic conditions, government debt in Greece is accumulating much faster than expected. The IMF said Greece's total debt is expected to reach 171% of GDP for 2012 and 182% at the end of 2013. In the spring of 2012, the IMF projected outlook for Greek debt to hit 153% of GDP at the end of 2012 and 161% for 2013. "A deeper-than-expected recession and slippages in the implementation of fiscal measures will once again complicate attainment of the ambitious deficit reduction targets," the IMF said. Euro zone officials and the IMF are negotiating whether Greece's debt should be restructured again but this time, with the government's official creditors taking losses on their Greek debt holdings. According to the IMF's projections, Ireland's deficit is largely on track to meet the terms of its bailout program. If economic growth falls considerably below forecast in coming months, the IMF repeated its warning that the U.K. should slow the pace of its austerity measures. The IMF said weaker growth estimates since its last report in April will likely slow the country's progress in cutting its budget deficit. The U.K.'s deficit is now forecast to be 8.2% of GDP in 2012 and 7.3% of GDP in 2013. The IMF previously forecast U.K. deficits of 7.9% and 6.7% in 2012 and 2013. One of the leading proponents of austerity, U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has vowed to stay the course with the government's aggressive spending cuts despite the economy contracting for three consecutive quarters.


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Oct 9, 2012


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