ESMA LIBRARY

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23
DOCUMENTS
Date Ref. Title Section Type Download Info Summary Related Documents Translated versions
06/11/2017 ESMA50-165-416 Report on Trends, Risks and Vulnerabilities No.2 2017- correction Final Report PDF
2.89 MB

ERRATUM - In TRV 2 2017,  p.39 table V.3, the values in the last four rows of column five were accidentally misreported. For this reason, ESMA now provides a corrected version, including the corrected values and a footnote pointing to the initial mistake.

12/09/2017 ESMA71-99-577 ESMA sees valuation risk at highest levels due to financial weakness and geopolitical uncertainty , Press Release PDF
131.39 KB

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA)’s latest report on Trends, Risks and Vulnerabilities No. 2, 2017 (TRV) identifies high asset price valuations as the major risk for European financial markets in the second half of 2017. The main risk drivers are uncertainties around geo-political developments, the resilience of economic growth as well as debt sustainability. Market and credit risks, as a result of geopolitical, growth and debt concerns, continued to be very high, while liquidity and contagion risks remained stable but high. Operational risk remains elevated but the outlook is now negative due to heightened concerns around cyber security. Overall, ESMA’s risk assessment for the second half of 2017 remains unchanged from 1H17.

20/03/2017 ESMA50-165-279 Report on Trends, Risks and Vulnerabilities No.1, 2017 Final Report PDF
2.73 MB
11/10/2016 2016/1458 ESMA to focus on supervisory convergence issues in 2017 , , , Press Release PDF
230.38 KB

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published its 2017 Work Programme which sets out its priorities and areas of focus for 2017 in support of its mission to enhance investor protection and promote stable and orderly financial markets.

The programme reflects the shift in focus of ESMA’s work, from building the single rulebook, towards ensuring its consistent application across the European Union (EU), as outlined in its 2016-2020 Strategic Orientation. The key areas of focus under ESMA’s activities of supervisory convergence, assessing risks, single rulebook and direct supervision will be:

  • Converging supervisory practices on the implementation of MiFIDII/MiFIR ;
  • Focusing on data quality;
  • Level 2 work on the Benchmarks Regulation and on various initiatives under the umbrella of the Capital Markets Union; and
  • Directly supervising credit rating agencies (CRA) and trade repositories (TR), with a particular focus on their ancillary activities given the trend of combining ancillary and core services.
30/08/2016 2016/1283 ESMA sees risk outlook deteriorate for EU securities markets , Press Release PDF
146.14 KB
30/08/2016 2016/1234 Report on Trends, Risks and Vulnerabilities No.2, 2016 Final Report PDF
3.07 MB
17/03/2016 2016/348 Report on Trends, Risks and Vulnerabilities No.1, 2016 Final Report PDF
3.13 MB
11/01/2016 2016/28 Emergency measure by the Greek HCMC under Section 1 of Chapter V of Regulation (EU) No 236/2012 on short selling and certain aspects of credit default swaps , Opinion PDF
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OPINION

Emergency measure by the Greek HCMC under Section 1 of Chapter V of Regulation (EU) No 236/2012 on short selling and certain aspects of credit default swaps

 

I.Legal basis

  1. According to Article 27(2) of Regulation (EU) No 236/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 March 2012 on short selling and certain aspects of credit default swaps (the Regulation), the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) shall within 24 hours of the notification having been made by a competent authority under Article 26 of the Regulation issue an opinion on whether it considers the measure or proposed measure necessary to address exceptional circumstances.
  2. ESMA’s competence to deliver an opinion is based on Article 29(1)(a) of Regulation (EC) No 1095/2010 (ESMA Regulation). In accordance with Article 44(1) of the ESMA Regulation the Board of Supervisors has adopted this opinion.

II.Previous measures adopted by the Hellenic Capital Market Commission (HCMC)

  1. On the 29th of June 2015, ESMA issued an opinion on an emergency measure proposed by the HCMC under Article 20 of the Regulation. The measure consisted of a temporary prohibition of transactions in any financial instrument that create, or increase, a net short position on any of the shares admitted to trading on the Athens Exchange and the Multilateral Trading Facility of “EN.A” (Alternative Market of the Athens Exchange) of which the relevant Competent Authority is HCMC and was applied from 30th June 2015 at 00.00.01 CET to the 6th July 2015 at 24:00:00 (CET).
  2. The HCMC indicated that the measure was a complementary action to the ones already established on the 29th of June 2015 by the Greek Authorities in order to tackle the broader Greek financial system crisis.
  3. On the 6th, the 13th, the 20th and the 27th of July and on the 3rd of August 2015, some of the measures adopted by the Greek authorities were renewed until the 30th of August 2015.
  4. On the 31st of August 2015, in accordance with Article 26 of the Regulation, the HCMC introduced a new emergency measure under Article 20 of the Regulation consisting in a ban on short selling of shares and units of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) admitted to trading on the Athens Exchange and the Multilateral Trading Facility of “EN.A” (Alternative Market of the Athens Exchange) of which the relevant Competent Authority is the HCMC. It also concerned all depository receipts (ADRs, GDRs) representing shares admitted to trading on the Athens Exchange and the Multilateral Trading Facility of “EN.A” (Alternative Market of the Athens Exchange). The short selling measure applied to any natural or legal person, irrespective of their country of residence, but contained the exemption for market making activities, provided that short selling transactions were conducted for hedging purposes. The emergency measure adopted on August 31st expired at 24:00:00 (CET) on the 30th of September 2015.
  5. In respect of all the above cases, the HCMC notified ESMA and other competent authorities of its intention to impose/renew the relevant short selling measures in accordance with Article 26 of the Regulation and ESMA issued in all cases a positive opinion concerning the imposition/renewal of the relevant short selling measure pursuant to Article 27(2) of the Regulation.

III.Present measure

  1. On the 30th of September 2015, in accordance with Article 26 of the Regulation, the HCMC notified ESMA and other competent authorities of its intention to make use of its powers of intervention in exceptional circumstances and to introduce a new emergency measure under Article 20 of the Regulation.
  2. The measure consisted in a ban on short selling of shares of five credit institutions admitted to trading on the Athens Exchange and comprising the FTSE/Athex Banks Index, irrespective of the venue where the transaction was executed. The temporary prohibition included sales of shares covered by subsequent intraday purchases. The temporary prohibition of short selling applied to all depository receipts (ADRs, GDRs) and warrants representing shares of such credit institutions admitted to trading on the Athens Exchange and comprising the FTSE/Athex Banks Index.
  3. The above mentioned credit institutions were:
  • Alpha Bank A.E. (ISIN GRS015013006)
  • Attica Bank S.A. (ISIN GRS001003003)
  • National Bank of Greece S.A. (ISIN GRS003003019)
  • Eurobank Ergasias S.A. (ISIN GRS323003004)
  • Piraeus Bank S.A. (ISIN GRS014003008)
  1. In the notification, the HCMC explained the reason for the measure was that in July 2015 the Eurogroup agreed on a specific package of measures regarding the development of the Greek Economy, the most important element of the Eurogroup agreement being that 25 billion euros would be earmarked for the re-capitalisation needs of the Greek Banking system. Nevertheless, the amount of funds needed to secure the capital adequacy of the Greek banks, and most importantly, the legal framework that would apply in relation to such re-capitalisation, including whether some incentives for private shareholders will be provided or not, had not been officially disclosed at the time.
  2. On the 30th of September 2015, ESMA issued a positive opinion (ESMA/2015/1489) regarding this new emergency measure. The measure entered into force as of 00:00:01 hours (CET) on the 1st of October 2015 and the original expiring date was the 9th of November 2014 24:00:00 hours (CET).
  3. On the 9th of November 2015 and on 7th of December 2015, the HCMC notified ESMA and other competent authorities of its intention to make use of its powers of intervention in exceptional circumstances and to renew the emergency measure originally introduced on the 30th of September 2015. On the same days ESMA issued positive opinions regarding these renewals (ESMA/2015/1638 and ESMA/2015/1854), which expired on the 21st of December 2015 at 24:00:00 (CET).
  4. The proposed renewals in November and December 2015 concerned exactly the same instruments as the original measure (see paragraph 9 and 10), foreseeing an exemption for market making activities in the affected financial instruments.
  5. In the notifications for the renewals, the HCMC considered that adverse circumstances were persisting in the Greek capital market, including also the existence of capital controls in respect of stock exchange transactions, but mainly in connection with the re-capitalisation of the systemic credit institutions that was not finalised yet, resulting in persistent market uncertainty that posed threats to the financial stability and the general level of market confidence
  6. The HCMC explained that the re-capitalisation of the Greek Banking System, that the law voted by the Greek Parliament on October 31st 2015 provides for, was actually in progress and had not been yet concluded for all credit institutions. Moreover, considering that the trading in the new shares issued from the relevant capital raising had not yet been started in all cases, the HCMC argued that, the lifting of the ban on short sales would tend to increase price volatility on listed credit institutions and would increase market uncertainty.  
  7.  Taking into consideration that the market behaviour of banking sector securities has traditionally played a very important role in driving overall market valuations, concerns remained as regards unexpected sudden and significant swings in market confidence and therefore in relevant asset prices. The HCMC added that the successful conclusion of the aforementioned bank re-capitalisation and restructuring process as well as the commencement of trading of the new shares of all credit institutions were thus absolutely necessary, in order to safeguard the stability of the financial system and of the Greek capital market.
  8. On the 21st December 2015, the HCMC notified ESMA and other competent authorities of its intention to make use of its powers of intervention in exceptional circumstances and to renew the current emergency measure introduced on the 30th of September 2015 once more, but this time with a limited scope.
  9. The renewed measure consisted of a ban on short selling limited only to the shares of Attica Bank S.A. (ISIN GRS001003011) admitted to trading on the Athens Exchange, irrespective of the venue where the transaction is executed. The temporary prohibition included sales of shares covered by subsequent intraday purchases. The temporary prohibition of short selling applied to all depository receipts (ADRs, GDRs) and warrants representing shares of Attica Bank S.A. (ISIN GRS001003011) admitted to trading on the Athens Exchange. As for previous bans, an exemption for market making activities in the affected financial instruments would be foreseen.
  10. In the notification for the partial renewal, the HCMC explained that the re-capitalisation of the Greek Banking System, based on the law 4340/2015 voted by the Greek Parliament on October 31st 2015, was still not fully concluded. Re-capitalisation of Attica Bank was still on-going. HCMC indicated that the capital increase was to be concluded at the latest by the 31st of December 2015 and that, subject to the successful completion of the issue, the trading of the new shares of Attica Bank was expected early January 2016, and thus the effect on the share price of this credit institution and on the volatility this trading might impose, had not yet been fully evaluated by market participants.
  11. The HCMC considered that the lifting of the ban on short sales on Attica Bank shares would tend to increase price volatility on the institution and would increase market uncertainty. Within this context, the HCMC argued that, as done previously for the other banks for which the short selling ban applied during the re-capitalisation process and also covered a few trading days of the new shares, the proposed renewal should be limited to Attica Bank and should expire on the 11th of January 2016.
  12. In the notification, the HCMC also explained that the proposed limited temporary ban of short-selling concerning shares of Attica Bank admitted to trading on the Athens Exchange was not expected to significantly impair price discovery and therefore market efficiency. Given that the main liquidity and trading activity on those instruments normally is located within Greece, the HCMC believed the proposed renewal would not create disproportionate negative effects, since it would affect a fairly small part of the EU overall market.
  13. On the 21st of December 2015, ESMA issued a positive opinion regarding the renewal of the emergency measure (ESMA/2015/1900), which is expiring on the 11st of January 2016 at 24:00:00 (CET).
  14. On the 11th January 2016, the HCMC notified ESMA and other competent authorities of its intention to make use of its powers of intervention in exceptional circumstances and to renew the emergency measure introduced on the 21st of December renewal as described in paragraph 19 above, namely Attica Bank.
  15. In the notification of renewal of the measure for Attica Bank, the HCMC indicated that the re-capitalisation of the Greek banking system is not yet fully completed, the one of Attica Bank still being in progress. Even though the capital increase of Attica Bank was finalised since the end of December 2015, the trading of the new shares has not started yet. Both the dates of the delivery of the new shares to the beneficiaries of the capital increase and of their admission to trading remain to be announced by Attica Bank and the Stock Market operator. The HCMC expects this will take place within the next week following the relevant decision of the Athens Exchange.
  16. Within this context, the HCMC argues that the short selling ban on Attica Bank should be extended to also cover a few trading days of the new shares to ensure equal treatment with the banks that had undertaken and concluded the re-capitalisation process before. Furthermore, the HCMC considers that such an extension would mitigate any possible risk of market volatility of the shares of Attica Bank and respond to any possibility of market uncertainty.
  17. In the notification, the HCMC also explained that the proposed limited temporary ban of short-selling concerning shares of Attica Bank admitted to trading on the Athens Exchange was not expected to significantly impair price discovery and therefore market efficiency. The proposed renewal of the emergency measure should be in force as of 00:00:01 hours (CET) on the 11th January 2016 until 24:00:00 (CET) on the 25 January 2016.

IV.Opinion

  1. ESMA is adopting the following opinion on the measure notified on the 11 January  2016, on the basis of Article 27(2) of the Regulation:

On the adverse events or developments

ESMA considers that adverse developments which constitute a serious threat to market confidence in Greece could be understood as having considerably decreased with the successful completion of the share capital increase of Attica bank as announced by that bank on the 30th December 2015. Attica Bank has been the last of the five banks to undertake the re-capitalisation process envisaged under Greek law. It represented less than 1 % of the total market capitalisation of the 5 re-capitalised banks before the Attica capital increase and less than 7% after the increase. It also stands for a very small fraction of the Greek banking sector. Not surprisingly, and unlike the other banks mentioned in paragraph 10 above, Attica Bank is not a significant supervised entity under the direct supervision of the ECB.

Although acknowledging that the successful and full conclusion of all the Greek banks’ re-capitalisation is important in order to safeguard the stability of the financial system as a whole and of the Greek capital market, as well as the protection of investors, ESMA considers that given that the capital increase of Attica Bank is agreed, priced, subscribed and publicly announced on the 30th of December 2015, the threat to the financial stability of the bank, and more widely to the financial stability of the Greek financial market, is much less acute than in December 2015.

ESMA notes that the trading of the newly issued shares further to the completed capital increase has not started yet and thus there is a risk of increased volatility in the relevant market and that the confidence in the concerned bank could be affected if price movements were extreme. However, the evolution of the stock price of Attica Bank during the last month does not point towards, on average, a significant downward pressure on the prices. The volatility observed on Attica Bank is relative to the currently volatile stock markets in the EU.

In the trading figures of Attica Bank shares since late November 2015, it is evident that the trading volumes have reduced progressively but the price of the stock has not suffered from a downward price spiral. Only in one occasion (10 December2015) the stock price fell more than 10% in a single session. In general, looking at the last 30 trading sessions, the price has increased by 37%. In the last 10 trading sessions, the price has moved in an overall range (counting intraday minimum and maximum values) of 13% around the average closing price of the period. In terms of closing prices, the maximum fluctuation has been -3,97% since 22 December (observed on January 7 2016). Putting these moves in the context of quite volatile EU stock markets, linked to the international market trends, it is questionable whether the volatility of the stock price of Attica Bank could be qualified as extreme or even high. Obviously, one could argue that the price has found a support thanks, among other things, to the existing ban on short sales. While it is extremely difficult to isolate the price effect of the short selling ban with current data, it is ESMA’s view that, all in all, the pricing history of the stock does not give the impression of a highly fragile situation.

The main risk related with extreme volatility in a re-capitalisation exercise arises when the issuance price of the new shares and the allotment of the volume to be subscribed is not yet complete. In that scenario, significant (downward) price movements can dis-incentivise the investors that were considering to subscribe to new shares or can affect the issuance price in a manner that the re-capitalisation (in terms of the effective amount of funds to be received by the bank) can be put at risk. Once the pricing and the subscription are firm, price moves have a much lower impact on the success prospects of a re-capitalisation. They mainly affect the willingness of the new investors to hold their new shares or to sell them when the new shares start to trade. But the effects of this process on the financial stability of the entity are much less direct than when the volatility scenario precedes the establishment of the price and of the allotment of the capital increase. The latter was the prevalent scenario in most of the other occasions in which the measures of the HCMC was extended and on which ESMA issued positive opinions in the past. In ESMA’s opinion, such scenarios should be distinguished from the case at hand.

The question of whether the risk of falling prices on Attica Bank shares (which has not yet been observed) would endanger the orderly functioning of the whole Greek financial market and its integrity is not evident to ESMA, due to the small size of this particular institution and to the fact that the only pending element is the formal admission to trading of the new shares.

On the appropriateness and proportionality of the proposed measure

ESMA considers that the renewal of the emergency measure limited to the shares of Attica Bank is not appropriate and proportionate to address the above mentioned potential threat stemming from the volatility of the price of the market of Attica Bank shares. Given that the share capital increase of Attica Bank is firm and definitive as well as publicly known, ESMA considers that the prohibition of short sales in the shares of Attica Bank admitted to trading on the Athens Exchange will only serve the purpose of assisting in reducing market volatility until the final admission of the new shares and the first days of their trading. While this may be a positive goal, ESMA notes that the situation of Attica Bank is very different from the ones of the other Greek banks both in terms of quantitative significance with respect to financial stability (much smaller in the case of Attica Bank) and in terms of the timing in the process of re-capitalisation (given that only the final listing of the new shares is pending, as opposed to the fixing of the issuance price and the allotment of the subscriptions).

ESMA is thus of the view that there are alternative tools and measures, including those provided by Article 23 of the Short Selling Regulation consisting in a short term restriction of short selling in case of a significant fall in price, to address extreme market volatility concerns, should this volatility materialise in the coming days and more specifically risks of a downward spiral of the price of Attica shares. Those measures would be in ESMA’s opinion more appropriate and proportionate to address the risks that would arise from that situation than a total ban on short sales.

On the duration of the proposed measure

Considering the above negative opinion on the appropriateness and proportionality of the measure, ESMA is not further assessing the duration of the proposed renewal.

 

22/12/2015 2015/WP/2015/2 Working Paper No.2, 2015 “Monitoring systemic risk in the hedge fund sector” Final Report PDF
872.37 KB

The working paper proposes new measures for systemic risk in the hedge fund sector. These measures are based on the ability of hedge funds to influence (be influenced by) the performance trend of the entire hedge fund sector. The proposed measures display a high ability to identify periods of financial distress, are robust to modifications in the underlying econometric model and deliver an innovation in the monitoring of systemic risks in the fund industry.

14/09/2015 2015/1290 Report on Trends, Risks and Vulnerabilities No.2, 2015 Final Report PDF
2.88 MB
11/03/2015 2015/526 Report on Trends, Risks and Vulnerabilities No 1 2015 Final Report PDF
2.59 MB
19/01/2015 2015/123 Remarks by Steven Maijoor at Opening Session of Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong, 19 January 2015 Speech PDF
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Introduction Let me first thank the Hong Kong authorities for inviting me to speak at this prestigious event about the important topic of long-term sustainable growth, which is very high on the agenda, both here in the East and in the West. It is good to be back in my birthplace. No, that is not a slip of the tongue. I was born in Hong Kong, about one mile from here in the area called Happy Valley. Consistent with that, I have always been an optimistic person, and that is a very valuable trait as a regulator. Although my family and I lived only shortly here in Hong Kong, I am proud of being born here, and I am sure that it gave me a good start in life. The core topic of this panel is long-term, sustainable growth in Asia. I am certainly not in a position to give a lecture on this topic as current Asian growth figures are on average higher than those in the European Union. Therefore I will listen carefully here today and take some lessons back home with me. Instead, I will share with you my current thinking on long-term growth from the perspective of an EU securities markets regulator. Let me first start with the regulatory response to the financial crisis and the frequently heard suggestion that this broad response is hampering economic recovery. The broad regulatory response was and is needed to prevent the recurrence of a crisis like the one we have experienced in the past seven years. The financial crisis has seriously destroyed economic growth. Since 2008, the EU has been on a systematically lower growth path, and is now more than 10% under the trend line as expected before the financial crisis started.
23/09/2014 2014/1164 Statement by Steven Maijoor, Chair, European Securities and Markets Authority at the ECON Committee, European Parliament 23 September 2014 Statement PDF
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Dear Members of the European Parliament, Ladies and gentlemen, First of all, I would like to congratulate you on your election or re-election as a Member of the European Parliament and as a member of this important committee. Call it a “Single Capital Market” or “Capital Market Union”, the financial regulatory reform in the European Union (EU) in the last five years has made solid progress and is a decisive step towards the aim of completing the single market in financial services. This is not only a necessity to tackle failures exposed by the financial crisis, it is also a crucial part of realising the overriding objective of securing economic recovery in the EU. However, it will only reach its full potential if the single rule book is applied consistently and supervised adequately so that all stakeholders can benefit from it in daily practice. ESMA plays a key role in achieving this objective, by enhancing investor protection and by promoting stable and orderly financial markets in the EU. Since its inception three and a half years ago, ESMA has contributed to the creation of an EU single rulebook by developing technical standards and guidelines, and by assisting the European Institutions, and the European Commission in particular, in providing technical advice on such areas as: over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives, hedge funds and private equity, short selling, high frequency trading, Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs), investment advice and financial information. In the last 12 months, ESMA finalised 22 technical standards and pieces of technical advice to the European Commission, as well as seven sets of guidelines, in order to complete the legal framework in areas such as Credit Rating Agencies, prospectuses, market infrastructures, European Social Entrepreneurship Funds and European Venture Capital Funds. We are currently translating the recently agreed MiFID II/MiFIR requirements into practically applicable rules. I will not run through all the work we have done on the single rulebook in that time as you can find an overview and some statistics in the Annex to my Statement which was distributed to you. I would like to stress that throughout the entire policy process we engage as much as possible with all relevant stakeholders – through hearings, direct meetings and consultations. We have – and will continue – to interact with many stakeholder associations representing consumers, investors and market participants - and solicit the views of ESMA’s Securities and Markets Stakeholders Group (SMSG). To mention two examples, right now we are assessing the almost 800 responses we have received to our MiFID II discussion and consultation papers and ESMA has received more than 1500 questions on the implementation of the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR). ESMA has successfully developed a regime of direct supervision at EU level. We supervise 23 credit rating agencies by conducting thematic investigations, on-site visits, analysing the information CRAs provide to the public and by monitoring the implementation of remedial action plans. In June this year, ESMA concluded its first enforcement action and issued a public notice censuring Standard & Poor’s Credit Market Services France SAS and Standard & Poor’s Credit Market Services Europe Limited (S&P) for failing to meet certain organisational requirements. EMIR brings more transparency to derivatives markets by introducing mandatory reporting to trade repositories (TRs). Since November 2013, six repositories have been registered and are now supervised by ESMA. Since reporting under EMIR went live, derivatives trade data has flowed into the repositories: as of 30 June 2014, more than 1 billion new trades have been reported to the TRs. Regulators now have access, or are in the process of establishing access, to derivatives data which should help in providing a clearer picture on the risks associated with those markets. On identifying risks to investor protection and stability, ESMA has substantially improved its data and intelligence gathering capabilities. Risks in securities markets are, for example regularly, identified and reported on in ESMA’s Trend, Risk and Vulnerabilities Report. Concerning the convergence of supervisory practices we have employed a range of instruments, including Q&As, opinions and peer reviews. Regarding peer reviews, we have strengthened our methodology, including the more frequent use of on-site visits. More generally, with the reform of financial markets moving from legislation to implementation, supervisory convergence will become a higher priority in ESMA’s activities and we will increase our resources allocated to this area. That brings me to the last topic I would like to raise, which I also brought to this Committee’s attention last year, the need for a stable budget. Today, our funding comes from a combination of the EU budget, levies on the financial market entities that we supervise directly, and the Member States’ national competent authorities. We are concerned that an increasing budget contribution from national competent authorities might pose undue difficulties to their functioning. This would run counter to the reinforcement of securities markets regulation and supervision at both EU and national level as envisaged in the regulatory reform programme. ESMA’s funding should guarantee its independence and not create potential undue influence. Therefore, we believe that the co-legislators should consider increasing the funding ESMA receives from financial market entities which require ESMA’s intervention and to increase the Union’s share in ESMA’s budget through an independent budget line directly adopted by the co-legislators. Thank you for your attention.
03/09/2014 2014/884 Report on Trends Risks Vulnerabilities No. 2, 2014 Final Report PDF
2.5 MB
12/03/2014 2014/258 ESMA sees improved securities market conditions, although risks remain elevated Press Release PDF
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ESMA sees improved securities market conditions, although risks remain elevated The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published its first Report on Trends, Risks and Vulnerabilities No. 1, 2014, and its Risk Dashboard for 4Q 2013. The report looks at the performance of EU securities markets, assessing both trends and risks in order to develop a comprehensive picture of systemic and macro-prudential risks in the EU that can serve both national and EU bodies in their risk assessments. Overall, ESMA’s report finds that EU securities markets and investment conditions in the EU improved in the second half of 2013, based on better macro-economic prospects, which also contributed to reduced systemic risk in that period. However, overall risks remained at high levels for EU securities markets as reflected in by the rapid propagation of uncertainty from emerging markets (EM) countries to EU markets early 2014. Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, said: Stress in EU securities markets has decreased, but key markets and investors continue to face substantive risks. As we remain vigilant about monitoring these vulnerabilities, global re-pricing risks as well as a better understanding conduct and operational risks will be a particular concern going forward. Key developments in EU securities markets, fund industry and infrastructures: Securities markets: securities markets performed positively in the second half of 2013, with volatility decreasing. However, sensitivities prevailed during the reporting period especially surrounding the global economic outlook and potential fragilities in EM markets. Investors: following a substantial decline in the second quarter of 2013, fund flows returned to positive levels at the end of the year. Fixed-income funds experienced outflows, whereas equity funds replicated the positive development of stock markets. Overall, mutual funds were hit harder than alternative funds. Market infrastructures: trading on EU venues remained in line with the first six months of 2013. The continuity of key financial benchmarks in the EU was a major concern for ESMA, even though the withdrawal of banks from interbank interest reference rate panels was largely halted during the reporting period. ESMA also monitors market developments which may present future vulnerabilities. The Report provides in-depth analyses on five topics: High-frequency-trading (HFT): the report examines HFT in EU equity markets, based on a sample of 100 stocks traded in nine EU countries, and finds that HFT activity accounted for around 22% of the value traded and for 60% of orders and is concentrated on Multilateral Trading Facilities. Overall, HFT seems to be positively related to volumes traded, fragmentation, prices and tick sizes and negatively related to volatility; Structural vulnerabilities due to low interest rates: the report looks into the impact of the current phase of low interest rates. It finds that it encourages investors to favour particular asset market segments such as fixed income products. In terms of risks, the reports identifies revaluation, liquidity and additional counterparty risks once the low interest rate environment comes to an end; First evidence from ESMA’s Central Rating Repository: ESMA analyses whether and how the financial crisis had an impact on the CRA industry and the structure of CRAs’ ratings portfolios. The report looks at the performance of the ratings, finding significant heterogeneity across asset classes, with corporate non-financial ratings appearing to perform much better than ratings of financial institutions and structured finance instruments; EU Central Securities Depositories (CSDs) – systemic considerations: this article concerns complex and extensive interdependencies between CSDs, financial market infrastructures, and the wider financial sector. This may support efficiency and financial stability in normal times, for example by promoting financial market integration and diversification. Subsequent rearrangements in business structures, however, can lead to a redistribution of risks and possibly change their nature, with potential implications for resilience and shock-propagation in times of crisis; and Stress-testing of investment portfolios: since the onset of the financial crisis, stress testing has become an integral part of the risk management of investment portfolios. A stress testing programme that has the input and buy-in not only of an investment company’s risk management team but also its portfolio managers and senior management is the one most likely to better position its portfolios for major market events. Next steps As part of its on-going market surveillance, ESMA will update its report semi-annually, complemented by its quarterly Risk Dashboard.
12/03/2014 2014/188 Trends, Risks, Vulnerabilities No. 1, 2014 Final Report PDF
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07/02/2014 2014/152 ESMA tells firms to improve their selling practices for complex financial products , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published an Opinion on practices to be observed by investment firms when selling complex financial products to investors. ESMA is issuing this opinion to remind national supervisors and investment firms about the importance of requirements governing selling practices under MiFID (Markets in Financial Instruments Directive).ESMA is issuing this Opinion as it is concerned that firms’ compliance with the MiFID selling practices when selling complex products may have fallen short of expected standards. The concerns relate mainly to the suitability and appropriateness of complex products that are increasingly within the grasp of retail investors. The Opinion sets out ESMA’s minimum expectations with respect to the conduct of firms when selling complex products to retail investors.Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, said: “Investment firms increasingly sell complex financial products such as warrants, different types of structured bonds, derivatives and asset-backed securities, which were previously accessible mainly to professional investors, to retail investors.“ESMA is concerned that this trend greatly increases the risk that customers do not understand the risks, costs and expected returns of the products they are buying. Therefore, we believe that it is crucial that investment firms act responsibly and in the best interest of their clients.“The level of concern regarding the risk posed by these products to investor protection when MiFID rules are not fully respected is such that we have also issued an EU-wide warning to investors in order to raise awareness about the risks arising from investing in these types of complex products.” The marketing and sale of complex financial products, in particular to retail investors, is an important investor protection area where ESMA wants to ensure a consistent approach to the application of the MiFID conduct business rules - thereby improving supervisory convergence.The areas covered by the Opinion relate to: firms’ organisation and internal controls; the assessment of the suitability or appropriateness of certain products; disclosures and communications in relation to products; and compliance monitoring of the sales functions.
20/09/2013 2013/1324 ESMA TRV: market conditions improve, as systemic risks persist Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) published today its Trends, Risks, Vulnerabilities (TRV) Report and a Risk Dashboard for the second quarter of 2013. The TRV examines the performance of securities markets in the first half of 2013, assessing both trends and risks in order to develop a comprehensive picture of systemic and macro-prudential risks in the EU, to assist both national and EU bodies in their risk assessments. ESMA’s TRV contributes to promoting financial stability and enhancing consumer protection by regularly looking into cross-border and cross-sector trends, risks and vulnerabilities, both at the wholesale and retail level. The TRV finds that EU securities markets and investment conditions in the EU have improved for a second quarter in a row since the 4th quarter of 2012, although systemic risk persisted at medium to high levels. Amongst other risk factors, uncertainty remained high due to concerns over funding sources, low interest rates and recent market fluctuations, resulting in increased market risk, while liquidity, credit and contagion risk continue to be significant. Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, said: “While the easing of stress in financial markets is a positive sign, systemic risks in the EU remain high and uncertainty in the international market environment has risen. Valuations in securities markets, volatility in fund flows, and continuity issues around financial benchmarks remain a matter of concern. Faced with these issues regulators and market participants should remain vigilant. “ESMA’s work on identifying those risks facing Europe’s securities markets is an important component in the European System of Financial Supervision’s efforts to foster recovery in its markets and promote financial stability.” The TRV identifies the following key trends for the first half of 2013 in EU securities markets: • Securities markets: market conditions improved moderately while issuance was subdued with equity prices declining and inter-bank lending increasing. The second quarter saw an increase in sovereign borrowing costs, and corporate bonds; covered bonds and securitised products were subdued; • Collective investments: asset managers benefited from improved market conditions, mainly driven by bond, equity or alternative funds whereas money market fund assets decreased. Overall, leverage remained moderate but capital inflows were volatile reflecting a decline in investor sentiment; and • Market infrastructures: trading on EU venues increased in early 2013. Central clearing of interest rate swaps continued to grow. Potential continuity issues around financial benchmarks give rise to concerns. Key risks identified in the Report, and published separately in the Risk Dashboard, include: • Liquidity risk: even though policy action helped to reduce liquidity risks in main market segments, others rose, leaving the overall liquidity risk at high levels; • Credit risk: securities markets in the EU saw a reduction in issuance volumes, mainly in asset classes with higher risk and longer maturities. Despite recent debt refinancing, overall credit risk remains high; • Market risk: equity and bond markets risks increased driven by rising concerns over the valuation of assets; and • Contagion risk: the risk of contagion between market segments remained unchanged, while the level of credit default swap exposures declined. In addition, the TRV presents in-depth analyses on four specific topics: • First evidence on the impact of the Short-Selling Regulation on securities markets; • Contagion risks and the network structure of EU CDS exposures; • Overview of the EU UCITS industry; and • Overview of bail-in and contingent capital securities. Next steps As part of its on-going market surveillance, ESMA publishes its TRV semi-annually, complemented by its quarterly risk dashboard.
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