Commodity Futures Trading Commission
About the Commodity Futures Trading Commission
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is an independent agency of the United States government created 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 option markets.
What is a future? Option? Derivative?
Glossary of futures trading terms
Basics of futures trading & regulation.
1155 21st Street, NW
Washington, DC 20581
Information for Regional Reporters
Futures contracts for agricultural commodities have been traded in the United States for more than 150 years and have been under federal regulation since the 1920s. When the CFTC was created in 1974, most futures trading took place in the agricultural sector. Over the years, the futures industry has become far more varied and complex.
Regional reporters may be interested in the markets for commodities that are economically important to cities they cover. There also are stories to be found in the clash of ideas and egos as Congress and others try to fix a flawed financial system that was both a cause and casualty of the current financial meltdown.
There is a lot at stake here, as the CFTC oversees a fast-growing multi-trillion dollar market for oil, wheat and other commodities. The market regulated by the CFTC has grown exponentially since it was founded in 1974, but its staff of about 450 people has grown very little since then. In May, 2009, a CFTC official said they are in the process of hiring about 95 more people.
The CFTC has traditionally supervised futures trading in wheat, oil and similar physical commodities. But there is a growing market for contracts on the future price of financial products, which are called derivatives. Some of the more complex derivatives that may have baffled regulators and investors are blamed for making the current financial meltdown worse. CFTC responsibilities may grow further if the agency gets responsibility for carbon trading under a cap-and-trade plan.
The CFTC is just part of a larger U.S. financial system that critics call “outdated,” fragmented and in need of reform (see GAO-09-216 January 8, 2009)
Members of Congress and others complain that some financial areas are regulated by more than one agency, while other issues slip through gaps. They say disjointed and inadequate regulation played a role in the recession of 2008 and 2009.
There are many suggestions for reform of the regulatory system that includes the CFTC and about 100 other federal and state agencies. Calls for reform intensified in the past year as oil hit record-high prices and stock prices plunged.
Some proposals would merge the CFTC with the Securities and Exchange Commission, while others would bring both the commodity and stock regulators under the wing of the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Any change would have to be approved by Congressional committees who have different views of the issue.
The House and Senate Agriculture committees have traditionally watched over regulation of commodities trading in wheat, oil, and other physical assets, while the Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Services Committee have jurisdiction over financial trading of products like stocks and bonds.
To access the CTFC web site's Press Room, visit:
Sign up to get CFTC press releases at: https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USCFTC/subscriber/new?topic_id=USCFTC_7
CFTC Office of the Inspectors General: http://www.cftc.gov/about/officeoftheinspectorgeneral/index.htm
Committees on Capitol Hill
Source of info on bills in Congress, including those to change regulation of markets including the CFTC
House Agriculture Committee
202 225 2171
Committee Chair Rep. Frank Lucas, R-OK
Ranking Minority Member Rep. Collin Peterson, D-MN
Senate Agriculture Committee
202 224 2035
The Ag committee web site offers audio, video, rss feeds from Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow and ranking member Pat Roberts.
Senate Budget Committee
Press contacts for Committee Chair Sen. Kent Conrad
Stu Nagurka (202) 224 7436
Phone: (202) 224-0642
Fax: (202) 228-2007
Press contacts for ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions
202 224 0642
House Financial Services Committee
Committee Chair Rep. Spencer Bachus
202 225 7502
Ranking Minority Member Rep. Barney Frank
202 225 4247
Futures Industry Association
Vice President of Communications
202 466 5460 x 106
Does this agency's information need updating? firstname.lastname@example.org