Over-the-counter (OTC) credit derivatives are privately negotiated contracts that allow a party to transfer the risk of default on a bond or loan to another party without transferring ownership. After trading in these products grew dramatically in recent years, backlogs of thousands of trades developed for which dealers had yet to formally confirm the trade terms with end-users--such as hedge funds, pension funds, and insurance companies--and other dealers. Not confirming these trades raised the risk that losses could arise. GAO was asked to review (1) what caused the trade confirmation backlogs and how they were being addressed and (2) how U.S. financial regulators were overseeing dealers' credit derivative operations, including the security and resiliency of the information technology systems used for these products. GAO analyzed data on credit derivatives operations that dealers submitted to regulators, reviewed regulatory examination reports and work papers, and interviewed regulators, dealers, end-users, and industry organizations.
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