Market, consumers suffer if CFTC budget cut-official

Tue Nov 15, 2011 1:15pm EST

* Lawmakers seek CFTC budget of $205 mln, less than Obama
     * Hard for CFTC to do its job without resources - Chilton
     By Christopher Doering
     WASHINGTON, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Congressional plans to cut
the U.S. futures regulator's proposed budget would curtail its
ability to implement new financial reforms and could lead to
layoffs at the agency, an official said on Tuesday.
    Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress on Monday
agreed to a measure that would set the U.S. Commodity Futures
Trading Commission's budget for fiscal 2012 at $205 million,
$103 million less than what was requested by the Obama
administration.
     Bart Chilton, a Democratic CFTC commissioner, said the
budget would make it harder to investigate financial scams and
slow implementation of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law
enacted in July 2010. The agency also could have to cut staff.
     "It's going to be tough. Without the resources we can't do
the job," Chilton told Reuters Insider.
     "There are people out there who don't like the Dodd-Frank
law. They're looking at ways to delay it and ways to defund it.
Essentially they want to decapitate that law, and I don't think
that would be good for consumers or markets," he said.
     The debate over the CFTC's budget comes as the agency is
several months behind in implementing rules for the previously
opaque $600 trillion over-the-counter derivatives market
required under last year's Dodd-Frank law.
    The CFTC has also taken on a sweeping review into the
business practices of failed futures brokerage MF Global as regulators search for roughly $600 million in
missing customer money.
    In the wake of MF Global's bankruptcy on Oct. 31, the CFTC
is conducting an audit of all clearing futures commission
merchants to ensure customer funds were properly segregated.
     The CFTC's budget is expected to be included in a funding
bill that sets spending for the Agriculture, Commerce and
Justice departments, among others.
    The Obama administration has pushed for a CFTC budget of
$308 million in fiscal year 2012. Lawmakers in the Senate
wanted the funding set at $240 million while the
Republican-controlled House pushed for $172 million, nearly
unchanged from CFTC's budget in fiscal year 2011.
     "Not funding the CFTC is like taking the police off the
streets in a high-crime area, which is what Wall Street is,"
said Dennis Kelleher, president and CEO of Better Markets, a
nonprofit that promotes the public interest in the financial
markets.
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