While the legislation passed by the Senate Agriculture Committee last week would make some big changes in the derivatives market, it allows non-financial corporations that hedge their risks with derivatives to continue using customized over-the-counter instruments. Corporate end users still have problems with the Agriculture version of derivatives reform, though, including its cloudiness about the definition of an end user.

While the Agriculture Committee bill, sponsored by committee chairwoman Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), recognizes the needs of corporate users of derivatives, "the legislation still does fall short and picks some winners and losers in the corporate world," says Cady North, manager of government affairs for Financial Executives International (FEI).

In the wake of the financial crisis, legislators have been working on ways to get more derivatives activity onto exchanges, where it would be more transparent. Corporate users argue that the standardized derivatives on exchanges would be less useful to them than customized OTC instruments, and also more expensive.

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Susan Kelly

Susan Kelly is a business journalist who has written for Treasury & Risk, FierceCFO, Global Finance, Financial Week, Bridge News and The Bond Buyer.