Commodity Futures Trading Commission

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Commodity Futures Trading Commission
CFTCsealsm.gif
Founded 1974
Headquarters Washington D.C.
Products Regulator
Web site www.cftc.gov

The mission of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)[1] is to protect market users and the public from fraud, manipulation, and abusive practices related to the sale of commodity and financial futures and options, and to foster open, competitive, and financially sound futures and options markets. On Dec. 17, 2008, President-elect Barack Obama named Gary Gensler to become the next CFTC chairman.[2] On May 19, 2009, the U.S. Senate confirmed Gensler to head the CFTC.[3]

History

Congress created the CFTC in with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Act of 1974 as an independent agency with the mandate to regulate commodity futures and options markets in the United States. (Prior to that time, futures markets were regulated by the Commodity Exchange Authority (CEA), a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture). The CFTC's mandate has been renewed and expanded several times since 1974, most recently by the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 (CFMA). Another reauthorization is due in 2008, with new issues including regulation in the energy and retail forex areas.[4]

Today, the CFTC assures the economic utility of the futures markets by encouraging their competitiveness and efficiency, ensuring their integrity, protecting market participants against manipulation, abusive trading practices, and fraud, and ensuring the financial integrity of the clearing process. Through effective oversight, the CFTC enables the futures markets to serve the important function of providing a means for price discovery and offsetting price risk.

Lawyer William T. Bagley was appointed by President Ford as the first chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, serving from 1975-1978. As keynote speaker at a press dinner on the Chicago Board of Trade's trading floor early in his chairmanship, he established one of the CFTC's oversight goals by telling the crowd something along the lines of that if there was anything "Mickey Mouse" going on in the industry, he would cut off Mickey's ears.

How the CFTC Is Organized

The Commission consists of five CFTC commissioners appointed by the President to serve staggered five-year terms. The President, with the consent of the Senate, designates one of the commissioners to serve as CFTC chairman. No more than three commissioners at any one time may be from the same political party.

The CFTC chairman's staff has direct responsibility for providing information about the Commission to the public and interacting with other governmental agencies and the Congress, and for the preparation and dissemination of Commission documents. The chairman's staff also ensures that the Commission is responsive to requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act. The chairman's staff includes the Office of the Inspector General, which conducts audits of CFTC programs and operations, and the Office of International Affairs, which is the focal point for the Commission's global regulatory coordination efforts.

The chairman's staff is also responsible for liaison with the public, the Congress, and the media. The Office of External Affairs (OEA) is the Commission's liaison with the domestic and foreign news media, producer and market user groups, educational and academic groups and institutions, and the general public. OEA provides timely and relevant information about the Commission's regulatory mandate, the economic role of the futures markets, new market instruments, market regulation, enforcement actions, and customer protection initiatives, actions, and issues. OEA also provides assistance to members of the media and the general public accessing the CFTC's Internet Web site. The Commission serves in an advisory capacity to the Alliance for Investor Education.

The CFTC monitors markets and market participants closely by maintaining, in addition to its headquarters office in Washington, offices in cities that have futures exchanges — New York, Chicago, Kansas City, and Minneapolis.

Major Operating Units

Division of Clearing and Intermediary Oversight The functions of the Division of Clearing and Intermediary Oversight include oversight of derivatives clearing organizations, financial integrity of registrants, customer fund protection, stock-index margin, registration and fitness of intermediaries, sales practice reviews, National Futures Association activities related to intermediaries, and foreign market access by intermediaries.

Division of Market Oversight The Division of Market Oversight has regulatory responsibility for initial recognition and continuing oversight of trade execution facilities, including new registered futures exchanges and derivatives transaction execution facilities. The regulatory functions of the Division include, among other things, market surveillance, trade practice reviews and investigations, rule enforcement reviews, review of product-related and market-related rule amendments, and associated product and market-related studies.

Division of Enforcement The Division of Enforcement investigates and prosecutes alleged violations of the Commodity Exchange Act and CFTC regulations. Violations may involve commodity futures or option trading on domestic commodity exchanges, or the improper marketing of commodity investments. The Division may, at the direction of the Commission, file complaints before the agency's administrative law judges or in the U.S. District Courts. Alleged criminal violations of the Commodity Exchange Act or violations of other Federal laws which involve commodity futures trading may be referred to the Justice Department for prosecution. The Division also provides expert help and technical assistance with case development and trials to U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, other Federal and state regulators and international authorities.

Office of Chief Economist The Office of the Chief Economist is an independent office with responsibility for providing expert economic advice to the Commission. Its functions include policy analysis, economic research, expert testimony, education and training.

In February of 2009, the CFTC announced it had launched, on a six-month trial basis, a new monthly report called “This Month in Futures Markets.” The report, produced by the Commission’s Office of the Chief Economist, was touted as something that could add transparency to the information the Commission provides the public concerning regulated futures markets by providing graphical and tabular displays on the Commission’s Web site. The report draws from the Commission’s Commitments of Traders reports data and displays various market statistics for 22 actively-traded commodity markets, including four each from energy, agriculture, metals, financials, soft commodities and two from livestock markets.[5]

Office of the General Counsel The Office of the General Counsel (OGC) is the Commission's legal advisor. OGC staff represents the Commission in appellate litigation and certain trial-level cases, including bankruptcy proceedings which involve futures industry professionals. As the Commission’s legal advisor, OGC reviews all substantive regulatory, legislative, and administrative matters presented to it and advises the Commission on the application and interpretation of the Commodity Exchange Act and other administrative statutes. OGC also assists the Commission in performing its adjudicatory functions.

Office of the Executive Director The Office of the Executive Director (OED) formulates and implements the management and administrative policies and functions of the agency. OED staff formulate the agency's budget, supervise the allocation and use of agency resources, promote management controls and financial integrity, and develop and maintain the agency's automated information systems. The Office of Proceedings, which is under the administrative direction of OED, provides an inexpensive and expeditious forum for handling customer complaints against people or firms registered with the National Futures Association (NFA) through its reparations program. The Office of Proceedings also hears and decides enforcement cases brought by the Commission.

Reports

The CFTC regularly issues various weekly, monthly or annual reports[6], including Commitments of Traders reports[7], Cotton On-Call[8], Bank Participation in the Futures and Options Markets[9], CUSIPS Delivered for CBOT Treasury Futures Contracts (maintained by Chicago Board of Trade)[10], Futures Industry Registrants by Location[11], and Financial Data of FCMs[12] and others.

Key People

See also CFTC Commissioners

It was announced on June 16, 2009 that Walter Lukken, commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission at the time, as well as acting chairman of the Commission from June 27, 2007 until Jan. 20, 2009, would join NYSE Euronext on July 13, 2009 as senior vice president, global market structure, office of the general counsel.[13]

On Oct. 8, 2009, the U.S. Senate confirmed three nominees by unanimous consent to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Bart Chilton and fellow CFTC Commissioner Jill Sommers were nominated for another term at CFTC. Scott O'Malia had been nominated the previous month to fill the vacant Republican post at the CFTC.

News

  • On April 17, 2009, the CFTC announced it was creating the Energy and Environmental Markets Advisory Committee, or EEMAC, to help prepare the agency for regulation of the U.S. carbon market.[14]
  • On July 9, 2008, the CFTC announced that the regulator's Director of the Division of Enforcement, Gregory Mocek would leave the CFTC within 60 days to join as a partner in the energy and derivatives markets practice group at the private law office of McDermott Will & Emery.[15]
  • Also on July 9, 2008 the CFTC said it had appointed Stephen J. Obie as acting director of the division of enforcement to replace Mocek. Obie served as the regional counsel/associate director and regional administrator for the CFTC’s New York office.[16]


References

  1. U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. CFTC.
  2. Obama picks Gary Gensler to head CFTC. Star Tribune.
  3. Senate Confirms Gensler To Head CFTC. Yahoo News.
  4. Washington Watch. Futures Industry Magazine.
  5. CFTC Launches New Monthly Report. U.S. Commodity Futures Commission.
  6. Market Reports. U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
  7. Commitments of Traders. U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
  8. Cotton on Call. U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
  9. Bank Participation in the Futures and Options Markets. U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
  10. CUSIPS Delivered for CBOT Treasury Futures Contracts. Chicago Board of Trade.
  11. Futures Industry Registrants by Location. U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
  12. Financial Data for Futures Commission Merchants. U.S. Commodity Futures Commission.
  13. [http:http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/google/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20090616006201&newsLang=en Press Release]. Businesswire/ NYSE Euronext.
  14. Commissioner Bart Chilton: U.S. Regulators Gearing-Up for Climate Change. {{{org}}}.
  15. Former CFTC Director Gregory Mocek Joins McDermott Will & Emery. McDermott Will & Emery.
  16. Obie Replaces Mocek at CFTC’s Enforcement Div. Commodity Online.
  17. Press Release. CFTC.