Daily Archives: January 18, 2010

3 Comments

There's another firestorm sweeping its way through Forex circles. Last spring we had the NFA come down with restrictions against "hedging" and new FIFO accounting rules which forced changes in the way some traders and brokers in the US were operating and accounting for positions. That created a massive uproar, and not a little controversy as at least one broker was reportedly reprimanded for misrepresenting the NFA rules change as making stops and limit orders impossible. A lot of folks screamed and yelled about the not wanting regulators protecting them from themselves, and some folks took the opportunity to move their accounts to overseas jurisdictions.

Back in November a new NFA rule setting a cap of 100:1 as the maximum permissible leverage (for the majors and major crosses) went into effect. There was a lot less of a stink made about that move, most likely because the vast majority of experienced traders don't go anywhere near that kind of leverage most of the time anyway. It changed some margin requirements, but otherwise didn't really impact that many folks, so there was less squawking.

Now the US retail forex community has a new gripe. This time it is the prospect of the CFTC cutting the permissible leverage down to 10:1. This comes from a request for comment posted by the regulator on January 13th (the full document of the proposal can be found here.) The concern comes from the line "Leverage in retail forex customer accounts would be subject to a 10-to-1 limitation.” The cries of the end of retail Forex trading in the US are coming already, and in all likelihood a move like that by the CFTC would indeed cripple the industry.

That said, there's no need to panic and shift your account to a foreign broker.

First of all, with the NFA having only adopted the 100:1 leverage limit in November there hasn't been enough time for a real judgment on the impact of that rule change. It seems highly unlike the regulators will move without having collected sufficient data on the subject.

Second, this is only a request for opinion. You can be sure that the hue can cry from all participants against such a move will be very loud. The odds of that restriction being included in the final set of rules is very unlikely at this point, especially since it would actually make Forex leverage even less than that available in futures.

So everyone can relax. The odds of 10:1 leverage limits are extremely slim. By all means, though, take the opportunity to let the CFTC know what your thoughts are on the subject to make sure those odds remain low.

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