Global Risk Events Require Global Risk Assessments – Virus Pandemic & Climate Change

The current COVID-19 pandemic is a powerful reminder that our world is riddled with abundant uncertainties and risks.

In an uncertain world, without the help of hindsight (or a clairvoyant crystal ball), our policy decisions can at best be based on our assessments of the risks. That means probabilities, averages, variations, distributions, ranges, etc. By definition, risk assessments carry uncertainties themselves. So, we will never know for sure whether our decisions made according to the risk assessments are the right ones. But, that’s the best we can do!

For global risk events, such as virus outbreaks, climate changes, or even financial crises, which can have far-reaching global ramifications, risk assessments on a global scale are necessary for optimal policy decisions and responses. Assessments limited to local perspectives will not be enough. This can be clearly seen in the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of today (4/14/2020), US has reported over 600k infections nationwide, and more than 25k lives lost. We will never know for sure whether we could have responded to the virus outbreak better, or worse. It has become clear, however, that information and data about the virus from other regions, countries, states, and cities can greatly help to improve our own risk assessments and responses. Be it the virus genome codes, strain variations, mortality rates, spreading rates, spreading mechanisms, human-to-human transmission paths, incubation periods, asymptomatic transmission, known effective treatments, known effective policies, potential vaccines, supply chain managements, governmental coordination, economic preparations, …, etc. All these information and data have proven instrumental, if not critical, in assessing the risks associated with the virus. Because the virus spreads without regard to political boarders (nations, territories, states, provinces, prefectures, counties, cities, towns, …), collecting the information and data globally can help to maximize the data collected and minimize the time required.

This need for global risk assessments, i.e., assessing the risks by examining global data, not limited to local data, similarly applies to climate changes. The weather or temperature patterns in New York or Texas or California, for example, will most likely be insufficient to assess the risks associated with global climate changes. – I have made the mistake numerous times of concluding it was global warming / cooling because of an abnormally warm / cool day in New York. (To be critical, one photo of a skinny polar bear on a floating ice may not be conclusive either, by itself.)

Even with real-time access to extensive global data, it may still be difficult to assess the risks and determine the responses. Rather, different people can assess the risks differently, sometimes substantially, and reach different decisions. (Witness the spars between New York governor, New York City mayor, and US president on re-opening of the economies, even after months of global data exchanges and collections on the COVID-19 virus.) Additionally, in reality, it is unlikely decision-makers will have at their disposal a complete set of global risk data at any particular time.

Therefore, given the complexities of the earth’s weather systems, I do not expect a uniform policy response to climate change in the foreseeable future, unless imminent dangers due to climate changes becomes clear and present, such as the case for the COVID-19 virus.

The stakes associated with climate change, or other global risk events, however, can be high, and the potential losses of lives, properties, or welfare can be tremendous. Recognizing the potential shortfalls and uncertainties in the risk assessments of global risk events, we should strive to make sure our best scientists and professionals, trained to objectively study and analyze risk events, receive the fullest attention possible in the public discourse and debates of such global risk events, undisturbed by politics and other subjective factors. That way, even if there are uncertainties associated with the risk assessments, we can claim to have done our best.

It is my hope that the need for global open information sharing regarding global risk events will lead to greater opening of authoritarian regimes, particularly those who desire to further integrate themselves into the global economy. If the global economy slows, however, I am also wary of the possibility that these authoritarian regimes may instead resort to even harsher surveillance and oppression to retain domestic control and powers, and inflame populist nationalism in and conflicts with foreign players. Even in more open societies, surveillance and centralized control may also intensify, in the name of public security and safety. But, that’s another story!

LIBOR Replacement – Analyzing & Assessing Alternative Rates

NYDFS requirements

In December last year, the NYDFS (New York Department of Financial Services) required each of the regulated financial institutions supervised by NYDFS to submit a plan for addressing the LIBOR cessation and transition risks. Reflecting the urgency of the regulator’s concerns, the institutions were required to submit the plan within less than 2 months, by early February this year. (The deadline was later postponed by 45 days to late March.)

Specifically, NYDFS required the plan to include the following 5 items, without providing further details:

  1. Programs that would identify, measure, monitor and manage all financial and non-financial risks of transition;
  2. Processes for analyzing and assessing alternative rates, and the potential associated benefits and risks of such rates both for the institution and its customers and counterparties;
  3. Processes for communications with customers and counterparties;
  4. A process and plan for operational readiness, including related accounting, tax and reporting aspects of such transition; and
  5. The governance framework, including oversight by the board of directors, or the equivalent governing authority, of the regulated institutions.

Analyzing & assessing alternative rates – What is required?

Financial institutions subject to the requirements are likely scrambling to put together a LIBOR transition plan to meet the deadline. Toward this effort, the 2nd required item (“processes for analyzing & assessing alternative rates) seems to pose the lowest hurdle. After all, the ARRC (Alternative Reference Rates Committee), with the implicit approval & supports by the FRB, has chosen SOFR to replace LIBOR; more than $300b of cash instruments have been issued; the daily trading volumes of the SOFR futures contracts set a record, exceeding 80k contracts, recently; and LCH cleared more than $200b of SOFR swaps in January 2020. Moreover, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac announced on 2/5 that they would no longer accept ARMs based on LIBOR by the end of 2020, and that they planned to begin accepting ARMs based on SOFR later in 2020.

Choosing SOFR, therefore, seems to be a path of the least resistance, particularly for budget-constrained institutions. In that case, the descriptions for item #2 should be simple and straightforward.

However, it is not clear at this point what additional information NYDFS will require for item #2 even if an institution simply decides to choose SOFR to replace LIBOR, as recommended by ARRP. Does the plan need to describe how the institution reached the decision to choose SOFR? Does the plan need to compare, analyze and assess the benefits & risks of other alternative rates? Does the institution need to discuss with its customers and counterparties and incorporate their positions and preferences into the analyses & assessments? Does the plan need to analyze and assess compliance with the 19 IOSCO principles?

Regardless of what the regulator(s) will specifically require in the LIBOR transition plan regarding alternative rates, and notwithstanding the fact that ARRC has recommended SOFR, it should be recognized that one size may not fit all. SOFR may not be the most appropriate replacement for LIBOR for some institutions, such as community and regional banks that depend substantially on unsecured funding. Furthermore, the regulator(s) may require an institution to develop and describe an independent and complete process & framework for analyzing and assessing alternative rates, even if the institution chooses SOFR to replace LIBOR. The spike in the repo market volatility in mid-September last year exemplified some of the shortcomings of SOFR, and demonstrated the need to be abreast of the pros & cons of other alternative rates.

Other alternative rates

If an institution desires or is required to analyze and assess alternative rates, what would be the right approach? In April last year, the Federal Reserve gave a broad-stroke clue that a bank should “conduct at least as much due diligence on the reference rates that they use as they conduct on the creditworthiness of the borrowers”.

To get started on this due diligence process, the table below lists information associated with some of the alternative rates. The information may be helpful to form the basis for developing a due diligence process to analyze and assess the alternative rates for replacing LIBOR, as required by NYDFS & FRB. Other currently available alternative rates not listed in the table include OIS, Effective Fed Funds, PRIME, Certificate of Deposit, Cost of Savings Index, etc.

Click image to view the full-sized table.

US-HK Policy Act – A New Battleground in US-China Trade Wars

As US-China trade wars escalate, residents in Hong Kong have waged fierce battles against a proposed extradition law, which poses the horrendous specter of any person physically present in Hong Kong being seized and extradited to China and subject to its “capricious legal system” on trumped-up charges, without meaningful legislative or judicial reviews. (See, eg, here.) The battles in Hong Kong, however, may turn out to be more than merely domestic politics, but rather far-reaching extensions of the US-China trade war battlegrounds.

To circumvent the rising tariffs imposed on Chinese goods, one strategy for Chinese manufacturers and exporters is to label the Chinese goods as made in another country/region that is not subject to the high tariffs. One such country/region is Hong Kong. (See, eg, here.) Under the US-HK Policy Act of 1992 (22 USC §5701 et seq), Hong Kong is treated by US as a region “autonomous” from China with regard to commerce, among others, even after UK returned HK to Chinese control in 1997. Specifically, the Act provides:

“The United States should continue to […] treat Hong Kong as a territory which is fully autonomous from the People’s Republic of China with respect to economic and trade matters.”

22 USC 5713(3)

Therefore, currently, goods designated as made in Hong Kong are not subject to the increased tariffs imposed on Chinese goods. If Chinese goods are first shipped to HK and then re-labeled (if necessary) and re-shipped to US, potentially these goods could evade the higher tariffs. – As long as the US laws continue to grant HK the special treatment as an autonomous region.

That special treatment, however, may be subject to change, and may be used as a weapon and an extended battleground in the trade wars. Specifically, the Act allows the President of US to suspend the special treatment, in consultation with the Congress, if the President determines that HK is “not sufficiently autonomous”. (22 USC 5722(a)) Additionally, the Congress may enact new laws affecting adversely or eliminating altogether the special treatment.

Judging from recent news headlines (eg, “U.S. warns extradition law changes may jeopardize Hong Kong’s special status”, Reuters, 6/10/2019; “McConnell: Protesters in Hong Kong Should be Heard”, Youtube Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Channel, 6/11/2019; “Pelosi Vows to Review Hong Kong Trade Ties Over Extradition Bill”, Bloomberg, 6/12/2019), the battle of Hong Kong might have begun!

LIBOR Replacement – Determining Whether A Benchmark Is “Representative”

EU Benchmark Regulations “representative” requirement

In a speech on 7/12/2018, the head of the British financial regulator, FCA (Financial Conduct Authority), Andrew Bailey, declared that the regulator could prohibit LIBOR from continuing to be used for new businesses, if it determines that LIBOR no longer sufficiently “represents” the market. (EU Benchmark Regulations, Article 11(1)(a): “[T]he input data [of a benchmark] shall be sufficient to represent accurately and reliably the market or economic reality that the benchmark is intended to measure.”) Such a determination might not have been overly difficult, if LIBOR had remained a poll-based benchmark. As Mr. Bailey asserted in the same speech, “[LIBOR] relies on the so-called judgment of the panel banks. […] [T]o continue in the new regulated world of benchmarks, LIBOR has to be representative. I struggle to see the case for this judgment.”

LIBOR, however, has evolved.

Reformed LIBOR and permissible “waterfall” input data

ICE, the administrator of LIBOR, has reformed LIBOR to incorporate a “waterfall” of input data types, including transactions, transaction-derived data, and expert judgments. (See here.) Moreover, the EU Benchmark Regulations explicitly permit an interest rate benchmark to incorporate these hybrid types of input data. (See table below.)

Determining “representative”

Since the EUBMR explicitly permit an interest rate benchmark to incorporate such “hybrid” input data types, the Reformed LIBOR can satisfy the “representative” requirements even if it incorporates non-transactional data (e.g., judgments). The question then is: How does one determine whether the Reformed LIBOR is “representative”? According to what criteria? What are the parameters and factors to be used?

The EUBMR do not provide a clear answer to these questions. However, logically such a determination may depend on the following factors, among others:
• Total number of input data;
• Total number of transactional data;
• Total number of judgments;
• Percentage of transactional data;
• Percentage of judgments;
• Variations in the numbers & percentages;
• Etc.

Recognizing the shrinking unsecured interbank funding markets, the Reformed LIBOR broadens the sources of its transaction data to include certificates of deposit and commercial papers. Whether the expansion in data sources will be sufficient to satisfy the “representative” requirements, however, remains uncertain.

ICE Bank Yield Index

In a clear effort to further expand the sources of transactional data, ICE created the Bank Yield Index (BYI) to supplement LIBOR as a credit-sensitive interest rate benchmark. According to ICE, BYI is derived from two types of input data:

  1. Wholesale, primary market funding transactions executed by large, internationally active banks (e.g. inter-bank deposits, institutional certificates of deposit and commercial paper); and
  2. Secondary market transactions in wholesale, unsecured bonds issued by large, internationally active banking groups.

Below figure shows the average numbers and volumes of transactions underlying BYI. (See here.)

Will these expanded data satisfy the “representative” requirements? The answer remains blowing in the wind! The regulators will eventually need to step up to resolve the issue.

Libor Replacement – ICE Bank Yield Index & Benchmark Regulations

[Update 4/13/2019: Last Wed, Randal Quarles, Vice Chair for Supervision of the Federal Reserve and Chair of the Financial Stability Board (“FSB”), gave a speech at an FSB roundtable on reforming interest rate benchmarks. On the topic of choosing a replacement rate, Mr. Quarles did not foreclose the adoption of rates different from SOFR (or other risk-free rates). Instead, he established the principle that banks should “conduct at least as much due diligence on the reference rates that they use as they conduct on the creditworthiness of the borrowers”. Mr. Quarles concluded that SOFR satisfied the due diligence requirements. However, the other benchmark rates (e.g., ICE BYI) may also satisfy the requirements, and thus be a potential candidate to replace LIBOR.]

IBA, the administrator of the ICE Bank Yield Index (“BYI”) (see here & here), may have gained some ground in promoting BYI as a replacement for LIBOR. According to ARRC meeting minutes and agenda, IBA has been scheduled to make a presentation to ARRC on BYI at the ARRC April meeting. The presentation supposedly was requested by ICE in response to comments on BYI made at the February ARRC meeting. However, the fact that ARRC specifically discussed BYI in its meeting seemed significant. Moreover, there have been claims (although unconfirmed) that large banks “don’t like SOFR” (see here), but instead endorse BYI (see here).

This development increases the chances that multiple benchmarks (e.g., BYI, AMERIBOR, etc), in addition to SOFR, may co-exist post-LIBOR, as I discussed previously here & here. That is, even if LIBOR is eventually phased out, it is increasingly likely that BYI and potentially other benchmarks administered by private parties may partly replace LIBOR, for example, for the cash markets, while SOFR is used for the derivative markets.

For the regulators, however, the co-existence of private benchmarks with SOFR raises the question of whether these private benchmarks are qualified to replace LIBOR, free from the issues that plagued and doomed the latter. For example, the regulators desire a transaction-based benchmark to replace LIBOR. But, what are the minimum number or volume of transactions underlying a benchmark that can pass muster with the regulators? SOFR has a trading volume of nearly $1 trillion across thousands of transactions each day. BYI, on the other hand, may cover less than $10 billion of daily transactions across less than 200 daily transactions. Moreover, these numbers are the totals over various tenors from 5 to 500 days. The respective number for each tenor will be even less. (See Figures 3, 4, & 5 of the ICE Bank Yield Index Update, here.) Are these numbers sufficient for a benchmark designed to replace the flawed LIBOR? If not, what are the minimum thresholds?

As a result, it is likely that the US regulators will eventually need to establish a set of protocols and procedures to control and manage the quality of the private benchmarks, similar to the EU Benchmark Regulations. The Congress, however, will first have to enact legislations authorizing the regulators to establish the regulations. The legislative and regulatory processes may be time-consuming and the outcome uncertain, adding to the uncertainties already embedded in the LIBOR-replacement undertaking!


LIBOR Replacement – The “Two Benchmark” Approach

BIS paper and “two-benchmark” approach

The March 2019 issue of the BIS Quarterly Review published a paper titled “Beyond LIBOR: a primer on the new reference rates”. (See here.) As its title suggests, the paper presents a non-technical introduction to new reference rates such as SOFR intended to replace LIBOR. What’s interesting about the paper is that it discusses a “two-benchmark” approach to replacing LIBOR. The approach entails the concurrent use of a risk-free benchmark rate and a credit-sensitive benchmark rate, and presents a potential solution to the “loss of credit premium” quagmire that I discussed in my previous posting (here).

Divergences between risk-free and credit-sensitve rates

As I discussed in my previous posting, SOFR, a risk-free rate, is not intended to fully replace LIBOR, which incorporates a term credit risk premium. A credit-sensitive benchmark rate may still be desirable, particularly for cash market participants.

The BIS paper recognizes this need for a credit-sensitive benchmark. In particular, the BIS paper illustrates the potentially significant divergences between a risk-free rate (eg, SOFR) and a counterpart risk-sensitive rate (eg, LIBOR) during both normal times and times of stress. The charts below from Graph 7 of the BIS paper compare the O/N LIBOR with SOFR in 2008, and the 3m GBP (British Pound Sterling) LIBOR with futures-linked SONIA in 2018. (Note: SONIA, “Sterling Overnight Interbank Average”, is an unsecured O/N money market wholesale rate, and the British equivalent of SOFR.)

The charts show that in 2008, the O/N LIBOR surged above 6%, while the SOFR rates plunged from above 1.5% to nearly 0%. Even in normal times, the 3m GBP LIBOR rose by ~10 bps at the end of 2018, while the 3m SONIA rates implied from futures contracts remained nearly unchanged.

Reformed LIBOR, LIBOR+

As a result of the potentially substantial divergences between risk-free and risk rates, I posited in my previous post that the cash market participants are left with 3 options, none of which is satisfactory: (1) Continue to use LIBOR; (2) Adopt SOFR + a fixed spread; and (3) Use other rates having a credit component, such as PRIME, FHLB, commercial paper, CD, AMERIBOR, ICE Bank Yield Index, new auction-based rates, Investment Grade SOFR, etc. The BIS paper, on the other hand, discusses another choice as a part of the “two-benchmark” approach. – A reformed LIBOR, or LIBOR+.

LIBOR+, was proposed in a 2014 report (here) prepared by the Market Participant Groups (MPG), which was established by the Financial Stability Board (FSB) to study the reforms of benchmark interest rates. The results of the MGP report was summarized by Duffie & Stein in 2015 (here), which was in turn referred to by the BIS paper with respect to the “two-benchmark” approach. According to Duffie & Stein, in essence, LIBOR+ broadens the sources of unsecured wholesale funding transactions to those between all counterparties (specifically CPs & CDs), in addition to inter-bank transactions. Broadening the sources can increase the number of transactions underlying the benchmark, and thus reduce the risks of manipulation. Additionally, an algorithm can be used to fix the LIBOR+ rates even if submissions from panel banks are insufficient, reducing the risks to financial stability. (For example, on any day t, if a bank does not have any available transaction, the algorithm can derive the rate for the specific bank by using the transactions in the previous t-k days, giving increasingly smaller weightings to days farther away in the past.)

“Two-benchmark” = RFR & LIBOR+

According to the BIS paper, many countries have opted for the “two-benchmark” approach by choosing a RFR complemented by a local LIBOR+. (“In Japan, the reformed TIBOR will coexist with TONA; and in the euro area, there is an ongoing effort to reform EURIBOR to complement ESTER.” “In Australia, the reformed BBSW [will complement] the O/N benchmark” rate. “In Canada, the liquidity under CDOR, which is based on the bankers’ acceptance market, had actually been on the rise […], making its retention as a credit-sensitive term benchmark that much easier.”) In US, such a “two-benchmark” approach means SOFR will co-exist with LIBOR+ (or other alternatives), with the risk-free SOFR being used primarily for derivatives or for securities issued by agencies or corporations, and the credit-sensitive LIBOR+ used primarily for other cash market products.

Uncertainties

Such a “two-benchmark” approach may cause fragmentation and segmentation in the interest rate markets, reducing liquidity, and causing confusions, among other potential issues and difficulties. Furthermore, it is uncertain whether LIBOR+ can pass muster with the markets or regulators, and whether other alternative credit-sensitive benchmark rates, such as ICE Bank Yield Index, may out-compete LIBOR+. Or, it is possible that markets may reject the “two-benchmark” approach and instead adopt SOFR + a fixed spread, if the SOFR market liquidity becomes attractive and the benefit of a single rate outweighs the lack of a credit premium. Only time will tell, although the clock may be ticking!!!

LIBOR Replacement – ARRC Weekly Office Hours

ARRC has been offering weekly office hours since March 1, 2019. The office hours are hosted by David Bowman, Senior Advisor at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, every Fri afternoon 2-3pm, and open to the public. I listened in to the 3rd session last Fri, and found it quite informative.

To join the office hours, call 1-855-377-2663 for US callers, and +1 972-885-3168 for international callers. The participant code is 09823427.

For more info, visit the ARRC announcement here.

LIBOR Replacement – The loss of market-based credit premium and the quagmire for cash market participants

It has been widely reported that the Federal Reserve (via a group of public & private organizations, ARRC) has identified SOFR (Secured Overnight Financing Rate) to replace LIBOR. SOFR, however, is a risk-free (or nearly risk-free) rate and does not include risk premia such as the credit risk premium. Therefore, SOFR cannot fully replace LIBOR for many stakeholders, particularly those in the cash markets.

Need for a rate with credit risk

In 2014, the FSB (Financial Stability Board) issued a report titled “Reforming Major Interest Rate Benchmarks”. (Available here.) In the report, the FSB pointed out that LIBOR, which is based on unsecured interbank markets, included two main components, a “risk-free or nearly risk-free rate” and a group of other “risk premia, including a term premium, a liquidity premium, a credit risk premium as well as potentially a premium for obtaining term funding”. The FSB report observed that it might be feasible for many derivative transactions to replace LIBOR with a risk-free rate, such as SOFR. However, the FSB report also pointed out that there would be continued need for a “reference rate with bank credit risk”, such as in the markets for bank loans, and other “bank-provided credit products”. In general, there is a greater need for such types of risk premium in the cash markets, such as bank loans, FRN bonds & securities, mortgages, structured products, capital market products, etc.

Nonexistence of a market-based rate with credit risk

Unfortunately, the need for a market-based rate with bank credit risk to replace LIBOR cannot be readily and satisfactorily met in any existing markets. In a speech presented on 7/12/2018, Andrew Baily, the head of the British financial regulator, put it bluntly: “It is difficult […] to see how the term credit premium that LIBOR seeks to measure […] can be obtained from other sources. We have not seen a compelling answer to how one-month, three-month, six-month and twelve-month term bank credit spread can be reliably measured on a dynamic and daily basis.” (See here.)

The quagmire for cash market participants

In 2014, the FSB envisioned a post-LIBOR new world, where multiple rates would provide the flexibility to meet the needs of multiple market sectors. A few years later, the reality has sunken in that the existing market liquidity can only support a risk-free rate, SOFR, but not a rate with credit risk. Therefore, for cash market participants, the new post-LIBOR reality is not a world of multiple rates to choose from, but one in which no single existing rate is satisfactory for their needs.

No satisfactory options

Given such a quagmire, cash market participants face enormous difficulties in planning for the anticipated changes in LIBOR. No options currently available paint a clear path.

  • Continue to use LIBOR: And face the liability and legal risks that LIBOR may be held inadequate or even illegal, particularly with the prospect of new bench mark regulations such as the EU Benchmark Regulations.
  • Adopt SOFR plus a fixed spread: And face the risks of mismatch between assets and liability due to large fluctuations in the credit spread (in addition to the lack of term structure and other deficiencies of SOFR).
  • Use other rates having a credit component, such as PRIME, FHLB rates (eg, 11th District Cost of Fund), commercial paper rates, CD rates, AMERIBOR (here), ICE Bank Yield Index (here), new auction-based rates (here), Investment Grade SOFR (here), etc: And face the reality that all these markets have low liquidity and other deficiencies such as data transparency & sufficiency, and may not be acceptable as a benchmark rate.

The risks

For cash market participants who are regulated, such as banks or insurance companies, the question is how the regulators will approach this quagmire. Will they establish a safe harbor or other rules? Or will they leave it to the regulated entities to establish their own safety and soundness policies & procedures? Considering the costs and uncertainties, it is most likely these regulated entities will not make any major decisions and take major actions until the regulators provide a clear guidance. The risk is high, however, that those decisions & actions may be too late.

Financial Software Patents and “Abstract Idea” – Focus on Technology, Not Merely Finance

The laws concerning patent eligibility for software inventions, including financial software inventions, and the concept of “abstract idea” have undergone sea changes in recent years. These changes were meant to weed out overly broad patents, but have inevitably limited or muddled the scope of patent eligibility for software inventions. In light of these changes, inventors of financial software inventions interested in seeking patent protections should not focus merely on the finance ideas, even if they are considered highly innovative, but should also focus on the implementing technology, including both software and hardware.

Software and abstract ideas

Software inventions, particularly those implemented on general-purpose computers, face an additional hurdle to be patent eligible, when compared to the other types of inventions. – Software must not be considered an “abstract idea”, which is not eligible for patent protections even if it satisfies the other patentability requirements. This is because software inventions include primarily “methods and steps” in performing a set of logical operations, which are often described and controlled solely in a high-level programming language detached from the inner working of the general-purpose computer. Such “high-level” operations of software inventions may encroach on the domains of “abstract ideas”, which are considered too fundamental and basic to human societies and activities for any one individual to monopolize by patents, even for a limited period of time.

Examples in financial software: hedging commodity transactions; reducing settlement risks

Financial software inventions are particularly susceptible to the “abstract idea” hurdle, because inventors often focus on the finance or business ideas, giving little consideration of their practical implementations, as software or otherwise. For example, in 2010, the US Supreme Court in the case Bilsky v. Kappo held that methods and software for hedging commodity transactions were “abstract ideas” and not patent eligible. Subsequently, in 2014, the Supreme Court held that methods and software for reducing settlement risks by using a computer as a third party intermediary were patent-ineligible “abstract ideas”, in the case Alice v. CLS Bank.

Unclear definition of “abstract idea”

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