CFTC chairman talks data technology, free markets
ARLINGTON, Va. — Acknowledging that eventually “human traders will be going by the wayside” in an increasingly digital world, Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo said he would like to see the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission rival Facebook and Google and become the most sophisticated data analyst in the world.
“As we focus our regulatory energies to better understand the changing dynamics of our commodity derivatives markets, we cannot deny that much is changing, and changing rapidly,” Giancarlo said in a dinner speech Thursday night at the USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum here.
“New emerging digital technologies are pulling our farmers and ranchers into a virtual future, often beyond comprehension, with a powerful, gravitational pull. They are entering this virtual world with worries about trade, commerce, costs, and competition. And, as regulators, we needed to listen, and continue to listen. The greater the pace of change, the greater must be our capacity to keep pace, understand and harness it.”
Giancarlo reminded his audience that commodity derivatives help manage risk for agricultural producers.
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“Food production in the 21st century requires enormous ingenuity, technological savvy and expertise,” he said. “And, as we all know, agriculture is a risky business — which I believe is why I am here with you tonight.”
He noted that U.S. commodity futures are actually a global product. Calling the American derivatives markets “the world’s largest, most developed, and most influential,” he also cautioned to watch out for China, which is opening its domestic futures markets to international participation.
Giancarlo made a point of mentioning that he has served in the presidential administrations of both Barack Obama and Donald Trump, and that there has been a “consistent abstention from interference in the CFTC’s regulatory mission.”
“Society may choose to address such concerns as climate change, poverty or gender discrimination, but they are properly addressed through legislative and executive initiative,” he said. “The job of regulators is to oversee trading markets that fairly value those concerns, not promote or institute them.”
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