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CFTC Commissioner Says Agency Has Not Kept Pace with 21st Century Technology

In a recent speech, CFTC Commission J. Christopher Giancarlo stated that regulation by the agency has not kept pace with the technological transformation of the world’s trading markets. In particular, Commissioner Giancarlo discussed the digitization of the financial markets, noting particularly that automated trading now constitutes up to 70 percent of regulated futures markets, 80 percent of the cash equities markets and 70 percent of foreign exchange spot markets, and the benefits and challenges of automated trading. He stated that the CFTC “remains stuck in a 20th Century time warp” and that the agency’s existing swaps rules stifle technological innovation and its futures rules are geared toward regulating fast-disappearing analog markets.  Commissioner Giancarlo noted that in 2013, the CFTC adopted rules for registration and operation of swap execution facilities but that those rules were poorly designed and biased against both human discretion and technological innovation. With respect to Regulation Automated Trading, a rule proposed in 2015, he noted that the rule does not address critically important questions raised by automated trading and the digitization of the financial markets. Commissioner Giancarlo recommended that the CFTC and other market regulators follow certain steps to regulate digital markets effectively, including embracing innovation and repurposing existing rules for the digital age.