The U.S. securities regulator is considering measures to boost transparency around “short-selling” and equity derivative bets and to rein-in retail “gamification” following January’s GameStop saga and the meltdown of Archegos Capital, its new chair planned to tell lawmakers.
Gary Gensler, sworn in last month as chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), will testify before the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee on Thursday.
Democratic progressives have pressured him to take a tough stance on Wall Street after January’s Reddit-fueled GameStop rally and last month’s collapse of New York investment fund Archegos exposed weaknesses in SEC rules.
They want the agency to crack down on private funds, especially hedge funds.
“Whenever there are major market events, it’s a good idea to consider what risks they might have placed on the entire financial system,” Gensler will tell lawmakers, according to prepared testimony published by the committee on Wednesday.
SEC staff are working on potential measures, Gensler will say, including greater disclosure of “short-selling,” a strategy hedge funds and other big investors use to bet a stock will fall; increasing transparency around securities lending, which underpins short-selling; and new reporting requirements for the complex “total return” equity swaps that felled Archegos Capital, a New York-based family office.
In addition, Gensler said he had asked staff to draft a request for public input into how trading apps entice retail customers to place trades using game-like features such as points, rewards, leaderboards, bonuses, and competitions.
Gensler did not elaborate on the timing for any new potential regulatory proposals.
“We need to ensure investors using apps with these types of features continue to be appropriately protected and consider how all of our rules apply in these situations,” he will say.
Shares of GameStop soared in January after retail investors trading on low-cost brokerage platforms bought shares in the video game retailer, causing big losses for hedge funds that had shorted the stock.
That short squeeze was followed in March by the collapse of Archegos, whose soured leveraged bets on media stocks left the fund and major banks that financed its trades nursing roughly $10 billion in losses.
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