Harris was appointed chief economist by former CFTC acting chairman Walter Lukken. Before becoming chief economist in 2007, he was a consultant to the agency in 2006. He planned to return to his position as a professor at the University of Delaware's Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics. He was slated to teach classes on investments and derivatives during the spring semester, which would start on Feb. 8.
In 2008, Harris had said he could find no direct link between speculation and high energy prices. Harris played an important role in analyzing market data surrounding the speculation debate. He testified several times before Congress on the issue and was chairman of the inter-agency task force that produced a controversial 2008 report on crude oil, which concluded that there was no evidence speculators had been systematically driving price changes in the crude oil market.
Harris received his bachelor's and master's degrees in Physics and Business Administration from the University of Iowa, and received a doctorate in finance from Ohio State University. His research interests include market microstructure and equities trading and initial public offerings and investor behavior.