About the CFTC

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) was created by Congress in 1974 as an independent agency with the mandate to regulate commodity futures and option markets in the United States. The agency's mandate was renewed and expanded in 1978, 1982, 1986, 1992 and 1995.

CFTC Mission

The CFTC is responsible for ensuring the economic utility of futures markets by encouraging their competitiveness and efficiency, ensuring their integrity, and protecting market participants against manipulation, abusive trade practices and fraud. Through effective oversight regulation, the CFTC enables the commodity futures markets better to serve their important functions in the nation's economy - providing a mechanism for price discovery and a means of offsetting price risk.


Futures contracts for agricultural commodities have been traded in the U.S. for more than 100 years and have been under Federal regulation since the 1920's. In recent years, futures trading has expanded rapidly into many new markets beyond the domain of traditional physical and agricultural commodities. Futures and option contracts are now offered on a vast array of financial instruments, including foreign currencies, U.S. and foreign government securities and U.S. and foreign stock indices. During FY 1998, 624,670,073 futures and option contracts were traded on U.S. futures exchanges, an increase of 19 percent over FY 1997.

Regulation and Oversight

The Commission regulates the activities of 214 futures commission merchants, 45,381 salespeople, 9,538 floor brokers, 1,364 floor traders, 1,446 commodity pool operators, 3,733 commodity trading advisors and 1,571 introducing brokers.

To ensure the financial and market integrity of the nation's futures markets, the CFTC reviews the terms and conditions of proposed futures and option contracts. The Commission conducts daily market surveillance and can, in an emergency, order an exchange to take specific action to restore an orderly market in any contract that is being traded. Companies and individuals who handle customer funds or give trading advice must apply for registration through the National Futures Association (NFA), a self-regulatory organization approved by the Commission. The CFTC seeks to protect customers by requiring registrants to disclose market risks and past performance information to prospective customers, by requiring that customer funds be kept in accounts separate from those maintained by the firm for its own use, and by requiring that customer accounts be adjusted to reflect the current market value at the close of trading each day. In addition, the CFTC monitors registrants' supervision systems, internal controls and sales practice compliance programs and mandates that all registrants fulfill an ethics training requirement.

Industry Self-Regulation

Commodity exchanges complement federal regulation with rules and regulations of their own for the conduct of their markets - rules covering clearance of trades, trade orders and records, position limits, price limits, disciplinary actions, floor trading practices and standards of business conduct. A new or amended exchange rule may be implemented only upon approval by the CFTC, which may also direct an exchange to change its rules and practices. The CFTC regularly audits the compliance program of each exchange.


Based in Washington, D.C., the CFTC maintains regional offices in Chicago and New York and has smaller offices in Kansas City, Los Angeles and Minneapolis. The Commission consists of five Commissioners who are appointed by the President to serve staggered five-year terms. One of the Commissioners is designated by the President, with the consent of the Senate, to serve as Chairperson. No more than three commissioners at any one time may be from the same political party. Additional information about the Commission and its activities can be obtained from the Commission's Office of Public Affairs or through the CFTC's Internet website, www.cftc.gov.

Commission Members

Current and previous Commission members and their terms of office appear below:

William T. Bagley (Chairman) 1975-1978
Gary L. Seevers 1975-1979
Read P. Dunn, Jr. 1975-1980
John V. Rainbolt (Vice Chairman) 1975-1978
Robert L. Martin 1975-1981
David G. Gartner 1978-1982
James M. Stone (Chairman) 1979-1983
Philip McBride Johnson (Chairman) 1981-1983
Susan M. Phillips (Chairman) 1981-1987
Kalo A. Hineman 1982-1991
Fowler C. West 1982-1993
William E. Seale 1983-1988
Robert R. Davis 1984-1990
Wendy L. Gramm (Chairman) 1988-1993
William P. Albrecht 1988-1993
Sheila C. Bair 1991-1995
Joseph B. Dial 1991-1997
John E. Tull, Jr. 1993-
Barbara P. Holum 1993-
Mary L. Schapiro (Chairman) 1994-1996
Brooksley Born (Chairperson) 1996-
David D. Spears 1996-
James E. Newsome 1998-

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