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 mission of the CFTC is to protect market users and the public from fraud, manipulation, and abusive practices related to the sale of commodity futures and options and to foster open, competitive, and financially sound commodity futures and option markets.


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 1999, 614,278,422 futures and option contracts were traded on U.S. futures exchanges, a decrease of 1.7 percent from the FY 1998 volume.

Regulation and Oversight

The Commission regulates the activities of 211 futures commission merchants, 45,593 salespeople, 9,482 floor brokers, 1,409 floor traders, 1,534 commodity pool operators, 2,806 commodity trading advisors and 1,609 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 Chairman. 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 website, www.cftc.gov.

Commission Members

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

William J. Rainer (Chairman) 1999-
Thomas J. Erickson 1999-
James E. Newsome 1998-
David D. Spears 1996-
Barbara P. Holum 1993-
Brooksley Born (Chairperson) 1996-1999
Mary L. Schapiro (Chairman) 1994-1996
John E. Tull, Jr. 1993-1999
Joseph B. Dial 1991-1997
Sheila C. Bair 1991-1995
William P. Albrecht 1988-1993
Wendy L. Gramm (Chairman) 1988-1993
Robert R. Davis 1984-1990
William E. Seale 1983-1988
Fowler C. West 1982-1993
Kalo A. Hineman 1982-1991
Susan M. Phillips (Chairman) 1981-1987
Philip McBride Johnson (Chairman) 1981-1983
James M. Stone (Chairman) 1979-1983
David G. Gartner 1978-1982
Robert L. Martin 1975-1981
John V. Rainbolt (Vice Chairman) 1975-1978
Read P. Dunn, Jr. 1975-1980
Gary L. Seevers 1975-1979
William T. Bagley (Chairman) 1975-1978