Treasury official nominated to head futures commission

Associated Press


Now that Tim Massad has been tapped to lead the federal agency that regulates futures and options markets, a key question has surfaced: Will he prove as aggressive as his predecessor in holding big Wall Street banks to stricter standards?

President Barack Obama on Tuesday nominated Massad to be the next chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The 2010 financial overhaul law gave the independent agency the task of laying down rules for oversight of derivatives, the complex instruments traded in a $700 trillion worldwide market that had been unregulated and contributed to the 2008 financial crisis.

For the past three years, Massad has overseen the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, the bank bailout program launched in response to the crisis. If confirmed by the Senate, he would succeed Gary Gensler, who plans to step down when his term ends in January.

Gensler was a 20-year veteran of Wall Street when he took over at the CFTC in 2009. But he surprised many by becoming a tough regulator who pushed for stricter rules that the largest banks had lobbied against. And he wasn’t afraid to take positions that clashed with the administration.

Massad, who has worked for the Treasury since Obama took office in 2009, has been an advocate for the administration’s policies.

“The question is whether he has the guts, independence and commitment ... to stand up to Wall Street,” said Dennis Kelleher, the president of Better Markets, a group that advocates strict financial regulation. “It’s a dramatically difficult job at an independent agency at a critical time.”

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