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December 18, 2013

The Next Chapter for Derivatives Regulation

Under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a five-member panel of three Democrats and two Republicans, has an all-important role in regulating the multitrillion-dollar market in derivatives.

Since the passage of Dodd-Frank in 2010, the C.F.T.C. has put in place dozens of generally sound new federal rules — on transparency and oversight — against nearly impossible odds, including relentless lobbying by big banks resisting regulation and severe Republican-driven budget shortfalls that have required tireless work from a skeletal staff. Though much work remains, credit for the progress that has been made largely goes to the commission’s chairman, Gary Gensler, a Wall Street derivatives expert-turned-reformer, chosen by President Obama in 2009, and Commissioner Bart Chilton, a Democrat and a firm reform advocate, chosen by President George W. Bush in 2007 and renominated by Mr. Obama in 2009.

Both commissioners are nearing the end of their terms and plan to leave their posts: Mr. Gensler at the end of this month, Mr. Chilton, sometime next year. Mr. Obama, however, has shown no interest in choosing replacements with similarly strong reform records and expert credentials. In November, he nominated Timothy Massad, a relatively unknown assistant Treasury secretary to be the next chairman. Mr. Massad, a former securities lawyer at a Wall Street law firm, has spent his time in the Obama administration overseeing the bank bailout program and the largely ineffectual foreclosure prevention effort. He has no deep expertise in derivatives or commodities.”

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Read full New York Times editorial here

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