U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) chairman Gary Gensler went before Congress on Wednesday to outline the CFTC’s achievements and to make a case for more funding.
Speaking before the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises, Gensler said the following:
We need resources for the people and technology necessary for effective market surveillance and to enhance customer protection programs. We need resources to handle the incoming registration requests from many new market participants. We need resources to answer all of the questions from market participants on implementation of reform.
Will the CFTC Get More Money?
It remains to be seen whether Gensler has convinced the subcommittee members to advocate for more funding, but it may be difficult to procure money in the face of looming cuts. Nevertheless, Gensler made his case by highlighting the paltry growth of the CFTC in the face of a complex, evolving global marketplace
At 703 on-board staff, the CFTC’s hardworking team is just 10 percent more in numbers than at our peak in the 1990s. Yet since that time, the futures market has grown more than five-fold, and the swaps market is eight times larger than the futures market
CFTC = NFL?
To illustrate his point, Gensler relied on an unlikely metaphor. He compared the CFTC to an overstretched and understaffed NFL roster:
Picture the NFL expanding eightfold to play more than 100 football games in a weekend without increasing the number of referees. This would leave just one referee per game, and, in some cases, no referee. Imagine the mayhem on the field, the resulting injuries to players, and the loss of confidence fans would have in the integrity of the game.
Given this reality, the President has requested additional resources for both staff and investments in technology for this agency. People and technological resources are critical for the CFTC to properly oversee the futures and swaps markets.