Schapiro, a tough regulator, may leave her current post as head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for a top regulatory job at the National Association of Securities Dealers. Although she won praise for helping to contain the damage following the collapse of Barings PLC in February, Ms. Schapiro is criticized in some quarters for attempting to stretch the trade commission's authority. The critics blame her for uncertainty in the $5.5 trillion swaps markets, an area thus far exempt from the commission's regulation. "There has been a creeping expansion of ... jurisdiction under her leadership," said one consultant with expertise in the over the counter market. "She has used enforcement actions to effectively make new policy without going through the normal channels." In a Bloomberg Business Wire story on Monday, Ms. Schapiro confirmed reports that she had talked with the NASD about becoming chief of its new unit for regulating brokers. However, she said she had not reached a decision. So far, people in the industry are reluctant to comment publicly on what the regulator's departure might mean. "As far as we know, she's still the chairwoman - and we'll operate under that assumption until we know what her decision is," said a spokesman for the Chicago Board of Trade. Likewise, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, which represents many of the largest dealers in the over-the-counter derivatives markets, said it was taking a wait-and-see approach. "ISDA looks foward to working with Ms. Schapiro, or any other CFTC chairman, to reduce any of the unintended uncertainties about the legal status of certain privately negotiated derivatives," a spokesman for the group said. "It's in everyone's interest to strengthen the framework in which derivatives activities take place." If Ms. Schapiro does leave the Futures Commission, the President would have to appoint a replacement, something the administration has been slow to do even in higher-profile areas. One industry observer said it is unlikely the agency would have a new chairman appointed and approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee until after the 1996 election. Privately, though, some in the over-the-counter market would like to see a change at the top of the commission. Since her appointment in October 1994, Ms. Schapiro has alienated participants with what they see as aggressive efforts to expand the agency's authority into their market. Among the complaints: The agency's efforts to expand its jurisdiction into foreign exchange and cash-settled forward contracts, which are similar in nature to swaps contracts. Such efforts are seen in the over-the-counter derivatives markets as an effort to backtrack on the pledge of former trade commission chairmen to exempt the swaps markets from its regulatory review. Ms. Schapiro has publicly endorsed continuing the exemption. Earlier this year, Ms. Schapiro won praise for her efforts to calm futures markets following the Barings collapse. Her strong presence prevented the investment bank's collapse from spreading into other markets, say market analysts.
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