Treasury Official to Be Tapped For CFTC

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 17: Assistant Treasury Secretary Timothy Massad, participates in a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing, on March 17, 2011 in Washington, DC. The committee is hearing testimony on oversight of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and evaluating returns on taxpayer investments. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
National Journal
Catherine Hollander
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Catherine Hollander
Nov. 12, 2013, 1 a.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama will nom­in­ate Treas­ury of­fi­cial Timothy Mas­sad to be the next chair­man of the Com­mod­ity Fu­tures Trad­ing Com­mis­sion on Tues­day af­ter­noon, ac­cord­ing to a White House of­fi­cial.

Mas­sad will suc­ceed Gary Gensler, who has served as head of the CFTC since 2009 and who has fre­quently but­ted heads with Wall Street dur­ing his ten­ure. Gensler’s de­par­ture this year was ex­pec­ted, and Mas­sad had been re­por­ted to be a top con­tender for the post.

Mas­sad is cur­rently the as­sist­ant sec­ret­ary for fin­an­cial sta­bil­ity at the Treas­ury De­part­ment, over­see­ing the Troubled As­set Re­lief Pro­gram, the fin­an­cial crisis-era bank bail­out pro­gram. “As TARP moves in­to the his­tory books, it’s my hope that its greatest leg­acy will be this, that when the na­tion was con­fron­ted with an ex­traordin­ary chal­lenge — in this case, the po­ten­tial col­lapse of our en­tire fin­an­cial sys­tem — gov­ern­ment rose to the oc­ca­sion,” he said in a re­cent speech at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion. Mas­sad has also worked in the private sec­tor at law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore and in oth­er Treas­ury po­s­i­tions.

He’ll have plenty to do at the CFTC. The reg­u­lat­ory agency is re­spons­ible for writ­ing many of the rules un­der the 2010 fin­an­cial-re­form law, in­clud­ing the con­ten­tious and yet-to-be-fi­nal­ized “Vol­ck­er Rule” that bans banks from mak­ing spec­u­lat­ive bets with their own money.

The Dodd-Frank re­form law vastly in­creased the agency’s re­spons­ib­il­it­ies, and Gensler has fre­quently com­plained to Con­gress that the CFTC’s budget is in­ad­equate for the work it has to im­ple­ment the law and over­see the massive fu­tures and swaps mar­ket. Law­makers have re­peatedly de­clined to ex­pand the CFTC’s budget in re­cent years.

Fur­ther com­plic­at­ing life for the next CFTC chair­man is that one of the agency’s com­mis­sion­ers, Demo­crat Bart Chilton, said last week that he in­tends to step down soon. Chilton’s will be the second open seat on the five-mem­ber com­mis­sion after Re­pub­lic­an com­mis­sion­er Jill Som­mers resigned earli­er this year.

The con­firm­a­tion hear­ing for the next CFTC chair­man will be held by the Sen­ate Ag­ri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee.

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