OPINION: Too Big Data 

Terry Flanagan

At the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, a crate containing the Ark of the Covenant is hidden in a huge warehouse in the middle of hundreds of other boxes, making it impossible for anyone to ever find it again. That image springs to mind when thinking about European trade reporting.

Since February last year the European Union has required both sides of a derivative trade to be reported to an authorised trade repository. Last August collateral and valuation reporting also went live requiring submission of daily mark-to market or mark-to-model data.

The European Securities and Markets Authority said this week that, since reporting began, almost 10 billion reports have been received and processed by the six authorised repositories. Since the beginning of this year around 300 million trade reports are being submitted every week.

The numbers sound impressive but all this data does not seem to be proving very useful.

The main purpose of trade reporting is to allow both Esma and national regulators to support financial stability through increased transparency into the derivatives market. However Esma said there have been many queries by national regulators and potential claims that they may not be getting access to the extent and nature of the data that they need to meet their mandates.

The poor quality of the data is becoming more urgent as Esma has to finalise the regulations on how to implement MiFID II before the summer. It would be nice if they had decent data to use when deciding on these new rules.

Maybe we should not give up hope. At the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, against all the odds, Indiana Jones has managed to get the Ark away from the Nazis.

Last November Esma did begin to address the problems they had identified by launching a consultation paper on clarifying the formats of some of the many data fields that have to be reported.

It would be nice if trade reporting eventually has a happy Hollywood ending.

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