Securities and Exchange Commission: Oversight of U.S. Equities Market Clearing Agencies

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Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "An effective clearance and settlement process is vital to the functioning of equities markets. When investors agree to trade an equity security, the purchaser promises to deliver cash to the seller and the seller promises to deliver the security to the purchaser. The process by which the seller receives payment and the buyer, the securities, is known as clearance and settlement. In the United States equities market, a centralized clearance and settlement system was established to reduce risks and increase efficiency in the market. As part of this ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. February 26, 2009.

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Description

Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "An effective clearance and settlement process is vital to the functioning of equities markets. When investors agree to trade an equity security, the purchaser promises to deliver cash to the seller and the seller promises to deliver the security to the purchaser. The process by which the seller receives payment and the buyer, the securities, is known as clearance and settlement. In the United States equities market, a centralized clearance and settlement system was established to reduce risks and increase efficiency in the market. As part of this system, trades in equities and other securities are typically cleared and settled through clearing agencies--self-regulatory organizations (SRO) that are required to register with and are subject to oversight by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Virtually all equities securities trades in the United States are cleared and settled through the National Securities Clearing Corporation (NSCC) and the Depository Trust Company (DTC), clearing agency subsidiaries of the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC). According to DTCC, 99.9 percent of daily transactions by dollar value clear and settle within the standard 3-day settlement period. In the remaining transactions, the seller failed to deliver the securities on time, resulting in a fails to deliver (FTD). On December 31, 2007, the value of aggregated FTDs was $7.5 billion. According to SEC, many FTDs are caused by processing delays or mechanical errors, and are typically resolved within a few days. FTD can also result from naked short selling. While not defined in the federal securities laws or SRO rules, according to SEC, naked short selling generally refers to selling short without having borrowed the securities to make delivery; potentially resulting in a FTD. When FTDs persist for days or months, they can accumulate to a level that may affect the market for that security. In recent years, investors, publicly traded companies, and others have expressed concerns regarding the intentional failures to deliver by some investors. For example, FTDs may be indicative of an illegal trading strategy known as manipulative naked short selling, in which short sellers attempt to profit by using naked short selling to inundate the market with sales of a security and manipulate its price downward. FTDs may also deprive shareholders of the benefits of ownership, such as voting and lending. To facilitate and monitor industry compliance with these rules and emergency orders, NSCC electronically submits FTD data daily to SEC and the stock exchanges. Because the prompt and accurate settlement of trades is essential to the smooth functioning of the United States' equities markets, Congress asked us to provide a background briefing on: (1) NSCC and DTC processes for clearing and settling equities trades, including their process for identifying and addressing FTD; and (2) SEC's efforts to ensure the reliability and efficiency of the clearance and settlement system through its examination program for clearing agencies."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • February 26, 2009

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Securities and Exchange Commission: Oversight of U.S. Equities Market Clearing Agencies, text, February 26, 2009; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc300839/: accessed September 26, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.