AFR in the News: Obama Nominates Senior Treasury Official to Lead CFTC

In the Nov. 12 Washington Post, Zachary Goldfarb and Danielle Douglas point out that the CFTC is “at an important crossroad” because “the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act directed the agency, with 674 employees and a $194 million budget, to oversee a $400 trillion piece of the unregulated derivatives market, a key contributor to the financial crisis. The CFTC has almost finished writing the rules mandated by the law,” they add, “and must now get Wall Street to comply.”

“Massad has not previously worked at a financial regulator,” the Post observes, “but officials say he is deeply familiar with the field through his work at a major law firm, Cravath, Swaine & Moore, where he spent the bulk of his career since graduating from Harvard Law School. He also advised the Congressional Oversight Panel, which reviewed the causes and response to the financial crisis.”

The article goes on to quote AFR executive director Lisa Donner: “Massad has not, in his previous work, been required to address the issues the CFTC is responsible for… It is not clear from what we know whether he is the right person for the job. There needs to be a serious inquiry into his views and perspectives as part of the consideration of his confirmation.”

Bloomberg’s Silla Brush reports that Massad “faces skepticism about his qualifications from lawmakers who will vote on his nomination to lead the country’s top derivatives regulator.”

“If confirmed, Massad will take the helm of an agency in transition,” Brush writes. “The CFTC is pivoting from writing Dodd-Frank rules to enforcing them even as [outgoing Chair Gary] Gensler and the administration have so far failed to convince Congress to fund the additional staff and technology needed to do the job.

Brush’s story includes skeptical comments from Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and notes that “Americans for Financial Reform and Better Markets, groups that advocate tighter regulation of Wall Street, issued statements calling on Massad to demonstrate a commitment to be tough on banks.”