Good morning, Chairman Udall, Ranking Member Johanns and members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for inviting me to today’s hearing on the President's Fiscal Year 2015 funding request and budget justification for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (Commission or CFTC).
During the last two years, despite significant budgetary constraints, the CFTC has made important progress in fulfilling its mission. As you know, under the Commodity Exchange Act, the Commission has oversight responsibilities for the derivatives markets, which include futures, options, cash, and swaps. Each of these markets is significant.
Collectively, they have taken on particular importance to the U.S. economy in recent decades and, as a consequence, have grown substantially in size, measuring hundreds of trillions of dollars in notional value. Their operation and integrity are critical to the effective functioning of the U.S. and global economies.
At their core, the derivatives markets exist to help farmers, producers, small businesses, manufacturers and lenders focus on what they do best: providing goods and services and allocating capital to reduce risk and meet Main Street demand. Well-regulated derivatives markets facilitate job creation and the growth of the economy by providing a means for managing and assuming prices risks and broadly disseminating, and discovering, pricing information.
Stated more simply, through the derivatives marketplace, a farmer can lock in a price for his crop; a small business can lock in an interest rate that would otherwise fluctuate, perhaps raising its costs; a global manufacturer can lock in a currency value, allowing it to better plan and grow its global business; and a lender can manage its assets and balance sheet to ensure it can continue lending, fueling the economy in the process.
Essentially, these complex markets facilitate the assumption and distribution of risk throughout the financial system. Well-working derivatives markets are key to supporting a strong, growing economy by enabling the efficient transfer of risk, and therefore the efficient production of goods and services. Accordingly, it is critical that these markets are subject to appropriate governmental oversight.
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member, and Committee members, I do not intend the testimony that follows to sound alarmist, or to overstate the case for additional resources, but I do want to be sure that Congress, and this committee in particular, have a clear picture of the potential risks posed by the continued state of funding for the agency. When not overseen properly, the derivatives markets may experience irregularities or failures of firms intermediating in them – events that can severely and negatively impact the economy as a whole and cause dramatic losses for individual participants. The stakes, therefore, are high.