Recently, Mr. Xiao Gang, former chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, was interviewed on Securities Law by media including Sohu Finance at a conference organized by Tsinghua University and University of Chicago in Beijing. The Macroeconomy and Finance in China Conference was held by the Macro Finance Research Program at the University of Chicago’s Becker Friedman Institute for Economics and Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management.
Xiao Gang said that the derivatives market can play a role in hedging against risks and the economic downturn. Regardless of whether it is abroad or China, the period of economic downturn is often a time when the volume of derivative transactions increases rapidly. But most Chinese companies are not involved in derivatives trading.
Xiao Gang believes that to improve the authority and international influence of China’s derivatives market in the future, it is necessary to proceed from two aspects: one is to enrich the product types and tools of derivatives, and the other is to expand the opening-up of the derivatives market. We can have the discourse power and the ability of pricing only when the market is opened up and global investors are allowed to enter.
Xiao Gang also commented on the Securities Law. He said that its revision has made great progress based on the original draft, and made a relatively comprehensive revision from many aspects, such as investor protection and the reform of issuance system, etc.
Xiao Gang also said that China does not have a Class Action System at present. To protect the interests of investors, the Securities Law should incorporate a Class Action System. However, it is necessary to make regulations in line with China’s actual conditions on the scope of the Class Action cases, the qualifications of the litigants and the courts in charge of the cases, etc., to prevent the occurrence of excessive litigation.
The following are highlights of the interview:
Sohu Finance: How do you view the current regulatory model of China’s derivatives market?
Xiao Gang: There are some unique aspects of China’s regulatory model for derivatives that I think are effective.
First, the regulatory authorities have a very strict process for the development and launch of derivatives, with the purpose of serving the real economy, and every product has been rigorously and adequately demonstrated.
Since we believe that each product represents an industry, such as iron ore, rubber and so on, the launch of product futures is not decided by the CSRC but should be fully and repeatedly discussed with relevant industry enterprises and competent authorities.
Second, a complete market supervision system including a margin system has been established to control the risks of futures trading.
Third, China’s supervision is “penetrating supervision”. The supervisory authority can get every investor’s account information, which foreign countries cannot do. This is a unique and effective part of China’s supervision.
Sohu Finance: How to improve pricing ability and international influence in the derivatives market?
Xiao Gang: First, we must enrich our products and tools. Now there are 70 varieties of futures products, which should be further enriched. At the same time, options and swap tools should be appropriately added to hedge industrial investors and provide risk hedging services.
Second, it is a crucial step to expand the opening up of the derivatives market. We can have the discourse power and the ability of pricing only when the market is opened up and global investors are allowed to enter.
Sohu Finance: During the economic downturn, what role can the derivatives market play in resisting financial risks?
Xiao Gang: The derivatives market can play a better role in hedging the downside risks of the economy. According to the empirical analysis of countries around the world, whether in the United States, Japan, or China, the period of economic downturn is often a time when the volume of derivative transactions increases rapidly.
Because whether it is a business entity or a financial institution, it is necessary to hedge against future risks, including the risk of price fluctuations, capital costs, and so on.
For example, China is a big importer of iron ore. From January to November this year, China imported 970 million tons of iron ore, a slight decrease of 0.7% from last year, but the money spent on imports increased by 33%, which meant we are paying 33% more for the same thing.
Iron ore is mainly imported by iron and steel enterprises. During the same period, the profits of China’s iron and steel enterprises fell by 30%. Although this number is a coincidence, it shows that quite a few companies have not done risk management. Since only 8% of companies participate in derivatives transactions, which is far lower than developed countries such as the United States, this highlights the urgency and importance of the use of derivatives for hedging risks by business entities.
Journalist: Is it because the large state-owned enterprises don’t care?
Xiao Gang: Not exactly. There are historical reasons for this. In the past, state-owned enterprises had in deficit when they made derivatives. Therefore, we must summarize experience correctly, not to deny it, but use the derivatives market to hedge risks under the premise of standardized management.
We talk about the opening up of crude and iron ore futures and allowing foreign invest in the domestic crude futures market now. China’s crude futures price have become the third price except the United States and Europe. Companies that using oil will compare the prices of three places, thus the influence of this price will begin to appear.
I believe that after a few more years, the influence will be even greater. In addition, for foreign investors, the funds they invest in crude futures can be easily moved in and out at any time.
Journalist: How do you view China’s progress in opening up the capital account? Is the opening up of capital markets in the short-term still one of the first things economic policymakers would do?
Xiao Gang: China does not currently have a capital account open, but we can create a new model to allow foreign investors free access to China’s A-share market.
China has a long way to go to open its capital account, and we need to achieve it gradually. In this process, we can gradually open our financial trading account. For example, Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect is part of it. In the future, we need to follow this new model to open financial trading accounts and capital accounts.
Journalist: How do you view the progress of the current amendment of the Securities Law? When do you think the Securities Law may take effect?
Xiao Gang: It depends on the legislature. Now that it is the third explanation, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress has recently conducted its fourth review in accordance with the procedures of the Legislative Council. We can focus on the published agenda later.
Journalist: From the national significance of the Securities Law amendment, how do you think its development in the capital market?
Xiao Gang: I think it is very useful. Because this amendment is a big step forward from the original law. It has absorbed opinions from various aspects and made a relatively comprehensive amendment such as investor protection and reform of the issuance system. To promote the healthy development of the market, improving the rule of law in the market will definitely have a good impact.
Journalist: Once the amended version of the Securities Law is officially passed, what can we expect to further improve the legal system that is closely related to the interests of investors? Will the securities class action system with Chinese characteristics be included?
Xiao Gang: I think the Class Action System should be included. This is an important weapon for investor protection. To implement this system smoothly, legislation should be made clear first, because China does not have a Class Action System.
Journalist: What are the specific characteristics of the Securities Class Action System with Chinese characteristics?
Xiao Gang: It is worth studying. It is characterized by the need to protect the rights and interests of individual investors, and to prevent excessive litigation. Therefore, it is necessary to make regulations in line with China’s actual conditions on the scope of the Class Action cases, the qualifications of the litigants and the courts in charge of the cases.