J. Christopher Giancarlo

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J. Christopher Giancarlo
Chris Giancarlo.bmp
Location Washington, DC
Website www.cftc,gov

J. Christopher Giancarlo is a former chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The U.S. Senate confirmed him in that role on August 3, 2017. He had been acting chairman at the commission since January 20, 2017. He stepped down from the post in July of 2019, concluding one five-year term.

He was named as an independent director on the board of the American Financial Exchange in September 2019.[1]


On March 14, 2017 he was nominated by President Donald Trump to be the permanent CFTC chairman.[2] The Senate voted overwhelmingly for his confirmation as chairman in June of 2017.[3]

Giancarlo aimed to transform the CFTC into a more forward-looking and modern regulator. He pushed the CFTC to become a "quantitative regulator" to better handle market data, created the LabCFTC to assist and understand financial technology companies and pushed a KISS (keep it simple stupid) agenda geared toward simplifying and streamlining regulations. Giancarlo said "regulation should never be based on a crude measure of the quantity of regulation, but the quality of regulation and oversight." [4][5]

He assumed the role of acting chairman after Timothy Massad stepped down from that role in January 2017. [6] He was nominated as a commissioner by President Barack Obama in August 2013 and sworn in on June 16, 2014. He replaced Jill Sommers, who left in July 2013.[7][8][9]

During his tenure as acting CFTC chairman, Giancarlo was on leave from his job as executive vice president of corporate development at GFI Group. [10]

Giancarlo joined GFI in April 2001 following the acquisition of Fenics, where he structured strategic alliances with investment banks. Before joining Fenics in 2000, he worked at the law firm Brown Raysman Millstein Felder & Steiner, LLP as a corporate partner from 1997-2000.[11] He joined Brown Raysman from Giancarlo & Gleiberman, a law practice he founded in 1992 following his return from several years in London with the international law firm of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle.

He was a founding co-editor-in-chief of eSecurities, Trading and Regulation on the Internet (Leader Publications). He has testified three times before Congress regarding the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act.[12]

Giancarlo is a founding member of the Wholesale Markets Brokers' Association,[13] serving as chairman in 2010 and again in 2012.[14]

He served two terms as chairman of the Wholesale Markets Brokers' Association, Americas (WMBAA) and has spoken out frequently about allowing flexible rules for derivatives trading platforms such as swap execution facilities that are aimed at OTC market participants. [15]

Before his business career, Giancarlo was a corporate partner in the New York law firm of Brown Raysman Millstein Felder and Steiner, where he advised technology businesses on corporate and finance transactions. He joined that firm from Giancarlo & Gleiberman, a law practice he founded in 1992 following his return from several years practicing law in London with the international law firm Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle. [16]

Giancarlo was interviewed by FIA CEO Walt Lukken in a FIA Speaks podcast in 2019.[17]

Cryptocurrency and Blockchain[edit]

In February 2018, Giancarlo told the Senate Banking Committee that digital assets, blockchain technology, virtual currency and other emerging financial technologies "are taking us into a new chapter of economic history." He also said that, although bitcoin and other digital assets are considered commodities, the CFTC does not have jurisdiction on spot trading for digital assets. He emphasized the need for regulators to have "perspective" and encouraged those at the CFTC, the SEC and other federal and state regulators and criminal authorities to work together to create "forward-thinking" regulations for digital asset trading and the implementation of blockchain technology.[18]

In October, Giancarlo said that regulating cryptocurrency derivatives markets is best handled by taking a "two-handed approach." On one hand, he said that it is the duty of regulators like the CFTC to crack down on those using digital assets to commit fraud and other crimes. On the other hand, he said that these problems are in part due to a lack of a market infrastructure, which he said would develop naturally as institutional investors move into the space.[19]

In November, Giancarlo said in a talk at Georgetown University's Fintech Week Conference that distributed ledger technology like blockchain could potentially benefit market watchdogs like the CFTC by improving the efficiency of regulatory processes.[20]


Giancarlo has long maintained a balanced, "do no harm" view on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. Though he has repeatedly affirmed the presence of widespread criminal activity in the crypto space, including fraud and theft, he has also emphasized the need for regulators to allow room for innovators within the space to flourish.[21][22]

Giancarlo has explicitly said that he is "not a cryptocurrency evangelist." He has said that he does not want to be dismissive of the "new generation" of digital asset traders, despite his role as a regulator.[23] He has also said that, although he does not believe that bitcoin or altcoins will necessarily replace fiat currencies, they "may solve some of the problems" in parts of the world in which local currencies have low value relative to currencies like the U.S. dollar.[24]

"Crypto Dad" and departure from the CFTC[edit]

Giancarlo's stance on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology led the online crypto community to give him the nickname "Crypto Dad," echoing the "Crypto Mom" nickname given to the SEC's Hester Peirce. In an open letter written by Giancarlo and published by Coindesk shortly before his retirement as chairman of the CFTC, Giancarlo said he was "humbled" by the nickname. In the letter, Giancarlo urged readers to embrace cryptocurrency and blockchain in the name of keeping up with the "extraordinary" pace of technological change and protecting the free markets. He also discouraged the idea of markets being controlled by politics and "human enterprise" while urging for a balance between policy, regulatory oversight, private sector innovation and "a little bit of courage."[25]

In September 2019, Giancarlo joined the board of directors for the American Financial Exchange (AFX) and the advisory board for the Chamber of Digital Commerce. Regarding the latter, he said he was looking forward to joining a group dedicated to the promotion of crypto and blockchain technology, and that he hoped that "together we can streamline and modernize the regulatory environment and encourage further blockchain innovation.”[26][27]

John Lothian News Interview[edit]

Chris Giancarlo of GFI Group Discusses the Need for Regulatory Balance
Chris Giancarlo, executive vice president, GFI Group worries that US regulation may not be balanced, and that it is mismatched with non-US markets. One area in particular that concerns him is on voice broking of OTC derivatives. Though the CFTC has pushed hard for more electronic execution of OTC trades in its Dodd-Frank Act rulemaking, Giancarlo says many of these types of transactions are illiquid and best done as voice negotiated transactions. In an interview with John Lothian News Editor-at-Large Doug Ashburn at 2012 SEFCON III, Giancarlo says the US needs “good regulation, but with the maximum amount of flexibility.”

MarketsReformWiki Featured Commentary[edit]

On October 12, 2011, Giancarlo testified before the House Committee on Agriculture on the subject of proposed changes to the Dodd-Frank Act regarding swap execution facilities.[28] His testimony was summarized into a commentary featured on MarketsReformWiki.

White Paper on Swaps Execution at MarketsReformWiki[edit]

www.marketsreformwiki.com/swaps white paper


Giancarlo graduated from Skidmore college with a B.A. He went on to receive a law degree from Vanderbilt University.[29]


  1. The Honorable Christopher Giancarlo Joins Board of Directors of the American Financial Exchange (AFX). AFX.
  2. Trump Picks a Regulator Who Could Help Reshape Dodd-Frank Act. The New York Times.
  3. Senate Agriculture Committee Votes Overwhelmingly to Confirm Giancarlo as Chairman for the CFTC Paving Way for Full Senate Consideration. CFTC.
  4. Free Markets and the Future of Blockchain. Coindesk.
  5. Remarks of Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo at 44th Annual International Futures Industry Conference. CFTC.
  6. CFTC Names J. Christopher Giancarlo Acting Chairman. Mondovisione.
  7. Obama Nominates Giancarlo for CFTC. Dow Jones.
  8. White House: Obama to nominate CFTC, FCC commissioners. CNBC.
  9. Obama Nominates GFI Group’s Giancarlo to Serve on CFTC. Bloomberg.
  10. Senate Panel Approves Three Nominees To CFTC. WSJ.com.
  11. J. Christopher Giancarlo Bio. Forbes.
  12. Commissioner J. Christopher Giancarlo. CFTC.gov.
  13. WMBAA Board Member J. Christopher Giancarlo and Vice Chairman Shawn Bernardo to Appear before Separate U.S. House Committees to Discuss Regulatory, Economic and Market Implications of Dodd-Frank Derivatives Title. BusinessWire.
  14. Wholesale Market Brokers’ Association Welcomes New Chairman Giancarlo. Wholesale Markets Brokers' Association.
  15. CFTC’s Giancarlo Calls U.S. Swap Rules ‘Fundamentally Flawed'. Bloomberg.
  16. The Honorable Christopher Giancarlo Joins Board of Directors of the American Financial Exchange (AFX). LinkedIn.
  17. {{{name}}}. Futures Industry Association.
  18. Written Testimony of Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo before the Senate Banking Committee, Washington, D.C.. U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
  19. CFTC Chair Giancarlo Says Institutional Investors Will Help Crypto 'Mature'. Coindesk.
  20. CFTC Chair Says Distributed Ledger Tech Can Aid Market Watchdogs. Coindesk.
  21. Cryptocurrency regulation requires a 'do no harm' approach, US regulator says. CNBC.
  22. CFTC Chair Giancarlo Says Institutional Investors Will Help Crypto 'Mature'. Coindesk.
  23. CFTC Chairman: I Am Not a Cryptocurrency Evangelist. Coindesk.
  24. Cryptocurrency is ‘Here to Stay’: CFTC Chairman Giancarlo. CCN.
  25. Free Markets and the Future of Blockchain. Coindesk.
  26. The Honorable Christopher Giancarlo Joins Board of Directors of the American Financial Exchange (AFX). Coindesk.
  27. Ex-CFTC Chair ‘Crypto Dad’ Giancarlo Joins Digital Chamber Trade Group. Coindesk.
  28. Hearing to review legislative proposals amending Title VII of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. House Committee on Agriculture.
  29. Christopher Giancarlo. LinkedIn.
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