Biden Administration Plans to Pick Rostin Benham to Head The CFTC

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by Tolu Ajiboye · 3 min read
Biden Administration Plans to Pick Rostin Benham to Head The CFTC
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President Joe Biden reportedly intends for the current acting chairman of the CFTC to continue to head the commission on a more permanent basis.

US President Joe Biden plans to name Rostin Benham to head the Commodity and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Benham, who has served as acting chairman of the regulatory agency since January, will be continuing in that role on a more permanent basis. According to insider reports, the Biden administration is still weeks away from officially making the announcement.

The decision to select Benham as chairman of CFTC ends several months of speculation over who would lead the regulatory agency. The Commission has wielded increasing clout since the financial crisis and will likely focus more on climate change issues upon Benham’s installment. The American lawyer and government official, however, is not new to the climate change deliberations scene. In 2020, his profile got a major boost when he sponsored an industry group report calling on the US government to compel businesses to pay for their greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, in March this year, Benham in his role as acting chairman, announced a CFTC plan to establish a climate change unit. This unit would reassess the role of derivatives in reducing carbon emissions and is yet to release any findings. The Commission oversees the $582 trillion global derivatives market activity, which also includes cryptocurrency derivatives.

Benham as the Forthcoming CFTC Head

Rostin Benham is a former aide to Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow. He also practiced law in New York City and worked at the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General. He has been a commissioner at the regulatory agency since July 2017, when former US President Donald Trump first nominated him, receiving confirmation two months later. Throughout much of Brenham’s time as acting chairman, the CFTC has been even with two Republican and two Republican commissioners. The White House can break that standstill by appointing another commissioner at the regulatory agency.

The CFTC has jurisdiction over parts of the digital finance sector and classifies Bitcoin as a commodity. The CME Group Inc., which the Commission regulates, also has future contracts tied to the token in its listings. In fact, Benham has previously weighed in on the crypto space, pointing out the potential usefulness of blockchain technology in financial markets. 

In 2018, he called for flexibility in the regulation of the fintech space. Benham challenged regulatory agencies, including the CFTC, to better understand how the new technologies work and their impact on global markets. This, he says, will aid innovators in safely accessing financial networks and create more opportunities for exponential growth.

As the CFTC looks to a new dispensation under Democratic leadership, several Wall Street banks will be paying close attention. These financial institutions will look out for signs from the agency to try and reestablish jurisdiction over cross-border swaps trading. 

The CFTC previously moved to assert its jurisdiction after the 2008 financial crisis, during the Obama administration. However, during Donald Trump’s tenure as president, the agency chose a more respectful route.

Commodities & Futures, Market News, News
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