The Securities and Exchange Commission recommendation that it be given regulatory authority over futures trading in financial instruments appears unlikely to be adopted by the administration or Congress.
The Office of Management and Budget is completing a decision memorandum on the jurisdiction of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which now regulates financial futures, outlining the administration's options.
"It runs the gamut from giving the SEC total authority (over markets now regulated by the CFTC) to the status quo," explained Stan Morris, who heads OMB's regulatory policy staff.
Morris said the administration will make its recommendation on the issue within the next week or so in order to give the staff time to discuss the choice with congressional agriculture and appropriations committee members before mark-up of the CFTC reauthorization bill begins. Mark-up must be completed by May 15.
Sources indicated that the administration is likely to support the position already taken privately by Sens. Herman Talmadge (D-Ga.), chairman of the Agriculture Committee, and Walter (Dee) Huddleston (D-Ky.). Their staffs said both favor continuing the CFTC's full authority over all futures markets, and extending to the states concurrent investigate and enforcement powers necessary to combat fraud.
The latter recommendation is the result of te complaints of state attorneys general who testified at recent congressional hearings that the CFTC's exclusive jurisdiction hindered their attempts to block boilerroom, allegedly fraudulent London commodity options sales.
Huddleston is the sponsor of a CFTC reauthorization bill banning all commodity options sales. He is scheduled to brief prominent futures market participants in New york today on the likely outcome of the mark-up sessions. Staff sources said Huddleston will support the CFTC's current authority in his session with the brokerage executives and traders.
One of the key statements on the jurisdiction question, that of the Treasury Department, has yet to be released publicly. Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Carswell was scheduled to testify before the Senate Agriculture Committee on the issue last month, but postponed his appearance. A letter from Treasury to the committee, however, said the department wanted to have "an important role" in overseeing financial futures markets.
Although some committee sources expected Carswell to ask for concurrent jurisdiction with the SEC over financial futures, Treasury officials said privately last week that his testimony would not support such a change of regulatory scope.