CFTC Chairman Gensler testifies before Ag committee

February 28, 2012 06:00 PM

Good morning Chairman Lucas, Ranking Member Peterson and members of the Committee. I thank you for inviting me to today’s hearing on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) 2012 agenda. I also thank my fellow Commissioners and CFTC staff for their hard work and commitment to protecting the public and promoting transparent and efficient markets. I’m pleased to be here with CFTC Commissioner Jill Sommers,

CFTC Mission

At its core, the CFTC’s mission is to ensure the integrity and transparency of derivatives markets – both the futures and swaps markets. Each part of our economy relies on a well-functioning derivatives marketplace. These markets are critical for farmers, producers, ranchers and other end-users in the real economy – the non-financial side of the economy that provides 94 percent of private sector jobs. End-users can lock in a price or rate and manage their risk through these markets. The futures and swaps markets allow companies to focus on what they do best – servicing their customers, producing products, innovating, and investing in our economy. These markets are also critical for pension funds, mutual funds, community banks and insurance companies, and the Americans who rely upon these entities for their savings and financial needs.

The CFTC has historically been charged with overseeing the commodity futures markets. In 2010, Congress expanded the CFTC’s mission to also oversee the previously unregulated swaps marketplace. At approximately $300 trillion, the domestic swaps market is nearly eight times the size of the futures market.

Combined these markets help their users hedge or transfer $22 of risk for every dollar of goods and services produced in the U.S. economy. Futures and swaps markets touch nearly every aspect of our economy from the food we eat, to the price at the pump, to our mortgages and credit cards, and to our retirement savings. Thus, it is essential that these markets are transparent and efficient and work for the benefit of the American public. And when markets are open and transparent, they are safer and sounder, and costs are lower for companies and their customers.

CFTC 2012 Agenda

After a very full year in 2011, the CFTC has a significant agenda this year to further enhance the futures and swaps markets to better protect the public. To start, I’ll review what is ahead with regard to swaps a market reforms. I then will discuss further initiatives for enhancing customer protection and touch on some steps we are looking at to address changing market structure. I will close by discussing the CFTC’s request for additional resources to best accomplish these goals.

Completion of Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) Rules

The CFTC has made significant progress in completing the reforms that will bring transparency to the swaps market and lower its risk to the rest of the economy. But there is much work yet to be done.

During the rule-writing process, we have benefitted from significant public input. CFTC Commissioners and staff have met over 1,300 times with the public, and we have held 16 public roundtables on important issues, including a two-day roundtable beginning today on further protections for customer money.

We substantially finished our proposal phase last spring, and then largely reopened the mosaic of rules for additional public comments. We have accepted further public comment after the formal comment periods closed. The agency received 3,000 comment letters before we proposed rules and 28,000 comment letters in response to proposals.

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