The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is an independent agency of the US government created in 1974 that regulates the U.S. derivatives markets, which includes futures, swaps, and certain kinds of options. The
Commodity Exchange Act Commodity Exchange Act (ch. 545, , enacted June 15, 1936) is a federal act enacted in 1936 by the U.S. Government, with some of its provisions amending the Grain Futures Act of 1922. The Act provides federal regulation of all commodities and fut ...
(CEA), ''et seq.'', prohibits fraudulent conduct in the trading of futures, swaps, and other derivatives. The stated mission of the CFTC is to promote the integrity, resilience, and vibrancy of the U.S. derivatives markets through sound regulation. After the
financial crisis of 2007–08 Finance is the study and discipline of money, currency and capital assets. It is related to, but not synonymous with economics, the study of production, distribution, and consumption of money, assets, goods and services (the discipline of f ...
and since 2010 with the
Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, commonly referred to as Dodd–Frank, is a United States federal law that was enacted on July 21, 2010. The law overhauled financial regulation in the aftermath of the Great Recess ...
, the CFTC has been transitioning to bring more transparency and sound regulation to the multitrillion dollar swaps market.


Futures contracts for agricultural
commodities In economics, a commodity is an economic good, usually a resource, that has full or substantial fungibility: that is, the market treats instances of the good as equivalent or nearly so with no regard to who produced them. The price of a com ...
have been traded in the U.S. for more than 150 years and have been under federal regulation since the 1920s. The Grain Futures Act of 1922 set the basic authority and was changed by the
Commodity Exchange Act Commodity Exchange Act (ch. 545, , enacted June 15, 1936) is a federal act enacted in 1936 by the U.S. Government, with some of its provisions amending the Grain Futures Act of 1922. The Act provides federal regulation of all commodities and fut ...
of 1936 (7 U.S.C. 1 et seq.). Since the 1970s, trading in futures contracts has rapidly expanded beyond traditional physical and agricultural commodities into a vast array of financial instruments, including foreign currencies, U.S. and foreign government securities, and U.S. and foreign stock indices. Congress created the CFTC in 1974 as an independent federal regulatory agency. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-463) created the CFTC to replace the
U.S. Department of Agriculture The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the federal executive department responsible for developing and executing federal laws related to farming, forestry, rural economic development, and food. It aims to meet the needs of com ...
Commodity Exchange Authority The Commodity Exchange Authority was a former regulatory agency of USDA. It was established to administer the Commodity Exchange Act of 1936; it was the predecessor to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission The Commodity Futures Trading Commi ...
. The Act made extensive changes to the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) of 1936, which itself amended the original Grain Futures Act of 1922. (7 U.S.C. 1 et seq.). In 1975, the first members were selected, and also its first chairman. The CFTC's mandate was renewed and expanded in December 2000 when Congress passed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which instructed the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the CFTC to develop a joint regulatory regime for single-stock futures, the products of which began trading in November 2002. In 2010, the
Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, commonly referred to as Dodd–Frank, is a United States federal law that was enacted on July 21, 2010. The law overhauled financial regulation in the aftermath of the Great Recess ...
expanded the CFTC's regulatory authority into the swaps markets. The swaps markets currently have a notional value of more than $400 trillion.

Regulated markets

The CFTC oversees the derivatives markets by encouraging their competitiveness and efficiency, ensuring their integrity, protecting market participants against manipulation, abusive trading practices, fraud, and ensuring the financial integrity of the clearing process. The CFTC generally does not directly regulate the safety and soundness of individual firms, with the exception of newly regulated swap dealers and major swap participants, for whom it sets capital standards pursuant to Dodd–Frank. Through oversight, the CFTC enables the derivatives markets to serve the function of
price discovery In economics and finance, the price discovery process (also called price discovery mechanism) is the process of determining the price of an asset in the marketplace through the interactions of buyers and sellers. Overview Price discovery is diff ...
and offsetting price risk. As of 2014 the CFTC oversees 'designated contract markets' (DCMs) or exchanges, swap execution facilities (SEFs), derivatives clearing organizations, swap data repositories (SDRs), swap dealers,
futures commission merchant A commodity broker is a firm or an individual who executes orders to buy or sell commodity contracts on behalf of the clients and charges them a commission. A firm or individual who trades for his own account is called a trader. Commodity contra ...
s, commodity pool operators and other intermediaries. The CFTC coordinates its work with foreign regulators, such as its UK counterpart, the Financial Conduct Authority, which supervises the
London Metal Exchange The London Metal Exchange (LME) is a futures and forwards exchange with the world's largest market in standarised forward contracts, futures contracts and options on base metals. The exchange also offers contracts on ferrous metals and preciou ...

Over-the-counter derivatives

In 1998 CFTC chairperson Brooksley E. Born lobbied Congress and the President to give the CFTC oversight of 'off-exchange markets' for
over-the-counter Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are medicines sold directly to a consumer without a requirement for a prescription from a healthcare professional, as opposed to prescription drugs, which may be supplied only to consumers possessing a valid presc ...
(OTC) derivatives in addition to its existing oversight of exchange-traded derivatives,"Concept Release Concerning Over-The-Counter Derivatives market"
CFTC Release #4142-98, May 7, 1998.
but her warnings were opposed by other regulators.Goodman, Peter S

', ''
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' (''the Times'', ''NYT'', or the Gray Lady) is a daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership reported in 2020 to comprise a declining 840,000 paid print subscribers, and a growing 6 million paid ...
'', October 9, 2008.
Two actions by the CFTC in 1998 led some market participants to express concerns that the CFTC might modify the "Swap Exemption" and attempt to impose new regulations on the swaps market. First, in a February 1998 comment letter addressing the SEC's "broker-dealer lite" proposal, the CFTC stated that the SEC's proposal would create the potential for conflict with the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) to the extent that certain OTC derivative instruments fall within the ambit of the CEA and are subject to the exclusive statutory authority of the CFTC. In May 1998 the CFTC issued a 'concept release' requesting comment on whether regulation of OTC derivatives markets was appropriate and, if so, what form such regulation should take. Legislation enacted in 1999 at the request of the
US Treasury The Department of the Treasury (USDT) is the national treasury and finance department of the federal government of the United States, where it serves as an executive department. The department oversees the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and ...
, the
Federal Reserve Board The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, commonly known as the Federal Reserve Board, is the main governing body of the Federal Reserve System. It is charged with overseeing the Federal Reserve Banks and with helping implement the m ...
, and the SEC limited the CFTC's rulemaking authority with respect to swaps and hybrid instruments until March 30, 1999, and froze the pre-existing legal status of swap agreements and hybrid instruments entered into in reliance on the 'Swap Exemption', the 'Hybrid Instrument Rule', the 'Swap Policy Statement, or the 'Hybrid Interpretation'. The text of that act read: "...the Commission may not propose or issue any rule or regulation, or issue any interpretation or policy statement, that restricts or regulates activity in a qualifying hybrid instrument or swap agreement". Shortly after Congress had passed this legislation prohibiting CFTC from regulating derivatives, Born resigned. She later commented the failure of Long-Term Capital Management and the subsequent bailout as being indicative what she had been trying to prevent.Born was the focus of an October 2009 Frontline documentary titled "The Warning" and was also chronicled in the documentary '' Inside Job''. The two films recount her attempts to investigate and regulate the OTC
derivative In mathematics, the derivative of a function of a real variable measures the sensitivity to change of the function value (output value) with respect to a change in its argument (input value). Derivatives are a fundamental tool of calculus. ...
s market (PBS Frontline The Warning)

Regulating digital currencies

In March 2014 the CFTC acknowledged it was considering the regulation of Bitcoin. The CFTC has since taken the position that Bitcoin is a commodity under the CEA. In October 2019, former CFTC Chairman Heath Tarbert, now Chief Legal Officer of
Citadel Securities Citadel Securities is an American market making firm headquartered in Miami. It is one of the largest market makers in the world, and is active in more than 50 countries. It is the largest designated market maker on the New York Stock Exchange. ...
, declared that ether was also a commodity under the CEA. In 2015, the CFTC ruled that for purposes of trading, cryptocurrencies were legally classified as commodities. However, in view of market volatility and other factors, the CFTC noted several risks associated with trading virtual currencies. In 2017, the CFTC cited the US SEC's warning against digital token sales and initial coin offerings (ICOs) that can "improperly entice investors with promises of high returns". In recent years, the CFTC has expanded its efforts to civilly prosecute fraud and misappropriation in the digital asset markets.


Based in Washington, D.C., the CFTC maintains regional offices in Chicago, New York and Kansas City, Missouri. The Commission consists of five Commissioners appointed by the President of the United States to serve staggered five-year terms. The President, with the consent of the
United States Senate The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress, with the House of Representatives being the lower chamber. Together they compose the national bicameral legislature of the United States. The composition and pow ...
, designates one of the commissioners to serve as chairman. No more than three commissioners at any one time may be from the same political party.

Current commissioners

Major operating units

Division of Enforcement

The Division of Enforcement (DOE) 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 The United States district courts are the trial courts of the U.S. federal judiciary. There is one district court for each federal judicial district, which each cover one U.S. state or, in some cases, a portion of a state. Each district c ...
. 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.

Division of Market Oversight

The Division of Market Oversight (DMO) has regulatory responsibility for initial recognition and continuing oversight of trade execution facilities, including new registered futures exchanges, swap execution facilities, and swap data repositories. The regulatory functions of the Division include, among other things, rule enforcement reviews, reviews of new products and product- and market-related rule amendments, and associated product and market-related studies. The Division was previously responsible for market and trade practice surveillance.

Market Participants Division

Formerly known as the Division of Swap Dealer and Intermediary Oversight, the Market Participants Division (MPD) primarily oversees derivatives market intermediaries, including commodity pool operators, commodity trading advisors, futures commission merchants, introducing brokers, major swap participants, retail foreign exchange dealers, and swap dealers, as well as designated self-regulatory organizations. MPD conducts the registration, compliance, and business conduct standards of intermediaries, swap dealers and major swap participants. The division also oversees the agency's customer education initiatives.

Division of Clearing and Risk

The Division of Clearing and Risk (DCR) oversees derivatives clearing organizations (DCOs) and other market participants in the clearing process. These include futures commission merchants, swap dealers, major swap participants, and large traders. DCR monitors the clearing of futures, options on futures, and swaps by DCOs, assesses DCO compliance with Commission regulations, and conducts risk assessment and surveillance. DCR also makes recommendations on DCO applications and eligibility, rule submissions, and which types of swaps should be cleared. As of 2019, Clark Hutchison serves as Director of the Division of Clearing and Risk.

List of past commissioners

* Dan M. Berkovitz (term of service 09/07/18 – 10/15/21) * Brian D. Quintenz (term of service 08/15/17 – 08/31/21) * Heath Tarbert (Chairman 07/15/2019 – 01/21/2021) (term of Service 07/15/2019 – 03/05/2021) * J. Christopher Giancarlo (Acting Chairman 01/20/17 – 08/03/17) (Chairman 08/03/17 – 04/13/19) (term of Service 06/06/14 – 06/05/19) * Sharon Y. Bowen (term of Service 06/09/14 – 09/29/17) * Timothy Massad (term of Service 6/5/14 – 02/17/17) * Mark P. Wetjen (term of Service 10/25/11 – 08/28/15) * Scott D. O'Malia (term of Service 10/19/09 – 08/08/14) * Bart Chilton (term of Service 08/08/07 – 03/21/14) * Gary Gensler (Chairman 05/26/09 – 01/3/14) (term of Service 05/26/09 – 01/3/14) * Jill E. Sommers (term of Service 08/08/07 – 07/08/13) * Michael V. Dunn (Acting Chairman 1/20/09 – 5/25/09) (term of Service 11/21/04 – 10/24/11) * Walter L. Lukken (Acting Chairman 6/27/07- 01/20/09) (term of Service 08/07/02 – 07/10/09) * Reuben Jeffery, III (chairman 07/11/05 – 6/27/07) (term of Service 07/11/05 – 06/27/07) * Frederick W. Hatfield (term of Service 12/06/04 – 12/31/06) * Sharon Brown-Hruska (Acting Chairman 08/24/04 – 07/10/05) (term of Service 08/07/02 – 07/28/06) * James E. Newsome (Acting Chairman 01/20/01 – 12/27/01) (chairman 12/27/01 – 07/23/04) (term of Service 08/10/98 – 07/23/04) * Thomas J. Erickson (term of Service 06/21/99 – 12/01/02) * Barbara P. Holum (Acting Chairwoman 12/22/93 – 10/07/94) (term of Service 11/28/93 – 12/09/03) * David D. Spears (Acting Chairman 06/02/99 – 08/10/99) (term of Service 09/03/96 – 12/20/01) * Brooksley E. Born (Chairwoman 08/26/96 – 06/01/99) * John E. Tull, Jr. (Acting Chairman 01/27/96 – 08/25/96) (term of Service 11/24/93 – 02/27/99) * Joseph B. Dial (term of Service 06/20/91 – 11/13/97) * Mary L. Schapiro (Chairwoman 10/13/94 – 01/26/96) (term of Service 10/13/94 – 01/26/96) * Sheila C. Bair (Acting Chairwoman 08/22/93 – 12/21/93) (term of Service 05/02/91 – 06/16/95) * William P. Albrecht (Acting Chairman 01/22/93 – 08/20/93) (term of Service 11/22/88 – 08/20/93) * Wendy L. Gramm (term of Service 02/22/88 – 01/22/93) * Fowler C. West (term of Service 10/06/82 – 01/20/93) * Kalo A. Hineman (Acting Chairman 07/27/87 – 02/22/83) (term of Service 01/12/82 – 06/19/91) * Robert R. Davis (terms of Service 10/03/84 – 04/30/90) * William Rainer (term of Service 08/11/99 – 01/19/01) * William E. Seale (term of Service 11/16/83 – 09/01/88) * Susan M. Philips (Chairwoman 11/17/83 – 07/24/87) (Acting Chairwoman 05/28/83 – 11/16/83) (term of Service 11/16/81 – 07/24/87) * Philip McBride Johnson (Chairman 6/8/81 – 5/01/83) (term of Service 06/06/81 – 05/01/83) * James M. Stone (Chairman 05/04/79 – 06/08/81) (term of Service 05/04/79 – 01/31/83) * Reed P. Dunn (term of Service 04/15/75 – 11/13/81) * David G. Gartner (term of Service 05/19/78 – 10/05/82) * Robert L. Martin (term of Service 06/20/75 – 08/31/81) * Gary L. Seevers (Acting Chairman 12/06/78 – 05/03/79) (term of Service 04/15/75 – 06/01/79) * Bill Bagley (term of Service 04/15/75 – 11/15/78) * John V. Rainbolt (term of Service 04/15/75 – 05/18/78)


Unlike the other four main financial regulators, the CFTC does not have self-funding. A transaction fee has been "requested" for several years but Congress has not taken any legislative action. During the government shut down in October 2013, SEC and Federal Reserve stayed open, but "futures and most swaps markets were left with essentially no cop on the beat". In 2007, the CFTC's budget was and it had 437 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs). After 2008, funding increased by 80% to and 687 FTEs for fiscal year (FY) 2012, but was cut to and 682 FTEs for FY 2013. In 2013 CFTC's performance was severely affected by limited resources and had to delay cases. The current, FY 2014 funding of did not keep up with CFTC's increasing swaps market oversight and regulation, equivalent to tens of trillions of dollars in formerly dark market trading, according to outgoing Commissioner Bart Chilton in his last speech. The Obama administration's latest budget proposal for FY 2015 requested , which is less than the request for the previous year, and would fund "100 less employees than we need" per Chilton, who called the budget "woefully insufficient" for CFTC's more than 40-fold increased purview. In February 2014, Commissioner Scott D. O'Malia dissented from the FY 2014 spending plan saying that it did not allocate enough funding to new technology investments, but allocated too much to swap dealer oversight, duplicating the work of the self-regulatory
National Futures Association The National Futures Association (NFA) is the self-regulatory organization (SRO) for the U.S. derivatives industry, including on-exchange traded futures, retail off-exchange foreign currency (forex The foreign exchange market (Forex ...
. In March he dissented from the FY 2015 budget request stating CFTC "makes an unrealistic request for new staff and funding in this budget request without a firm understanding of its mission priorities, specific goals, and corresponding personnel and technology needs." In December 2019, the CFTC secured funding of for FY2020, an increase of nearly 6 percent from the appropriated for FY2019. Chairman Tarbert commented that this "fully matched" the CFTC's request, the first time that had happened in "nearly a decade."

Primary exchanges monitored

* Chicago Board Options Exchange *
Chicago Board of Trade The Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), established on April 3, 1848, is one of the world's oldest futures and options exchanges. On July 12, 2007, the CBOT merged with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) to form CME Group. CBOT and three other excha ...
Chicago Mercantile Exchange The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) (often called "the Chicago Merc", or "the Merc") is a global derivatives marketplace based in Chicago and located at 20 S. Wacker Drive. The CME was founded in 1898 as the Chicago Butter and Egg Board, an ...
* COMEX * Kansas City Board of Trade * Minneapolis Grain Exchange * North American Derivatives Exchange *
New York Mercantile Exchange The New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) is a commodity futures exchange owned and operated by CME Group of Chicago. NYMEX is located at One North End Avenue in Brookfield Place in the Battery Park City section of Manhattan, New York City. ...
* New York Board of Trade * OneChicago

See also

Commodity In economics, a commodity is an economic good, usually a resource, that has full or substantial fungibility: that is, the market treats instances of the good as equivalent or nearly so with no regard to who produced them. The price of a co ...
* CFTC report *
Federal Trade Commission The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government whose principal mission is the enforcement of civil (non-criminal) antitrust law and the promotion of consumer protection. The FTC shares jurisdiction ov ...
Forex scam Foreign exchange fraud is any trading scheme used to defraud traders by convincing them that they can expect to gain a high profit by trading in the foreign exchange market. Currency trading became a common form of fraud in early 2008, according to ...
* Hunter Wise Commodities * Managed futures account * Futures Industry Association, trade organization *
Securities market participants (United States) Securities market participants in the United States include corporations and governments issuing securities, persons and corporations buying and selling a security, the broker-dealers and exchanges which facilitate such trading, banks which safe ...
* Title 17 of the Code of Federal Regulations * CFTC Whistleblower Program * 2000s commodities boom * 2020s commodities boom * Digital Commodities Consumer Protection Act



Further reading

"The Warning"
WGBH WGBH may refer to: * WGBH Educational Foundation, based in Boston, Massachusetts, United States ** WGBH (FM), a public radio station at Boston, Massachusetts on 89.7 MHz owned by the WGBH Educational Foundation ** WGBH-TV WGBH-TV (channel 2) ...
) Frontline October 20, 2009. Documentary about 2008 financial collapse with Brooksley Born speaking about her failed campaign to regulate the derivatives market. https://randosity.wordpress.com/2010/11/26/film-review-the-warning-pbs-frontline-documentary/ See also
Background material

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission: Background and Current Issues
published by the
Congressional Research Service The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is a public policy research institute of the United States Congress. Operating within the Library of Congress, it works primarily and directly for members of Congress and their committees and staff on a ...
June 24, 2013, 379 KB, 23pp
CFTC Official Tied to Wall Street Profits From Merger Fight
(January 2015), ''
Bloomberg Businessweek ''Bloomberg Businessweek'', previously known as ''BusinessWeek'', is an American weekly business magazine published fifty times a year. Since 2009, the magazine is owned by New York City-based Bloomberg L.P. The magazine debuted in New York City ...

External links

Commodity Futures Trading Commission
in the
Federal Register The ''Federal Register'' (FR or sometimes Fed. Reg.) is the official journal of the federal government of the United States that contains government agency rules, proposed rules, and public notices. It is published every weekday, except on fe ...

Commodity Futures Trading Commission
on USAspending.gov {{Authority control Financial services companies established in 1975 Financial regulatory authorities of the United States Government agencies established in 1975