Heeding requests from the Federal Reserve Board and Treasury Department ot "proceed gradually" with expansion of futures trading based on government securities, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission has delayed action on three proposed new futures contracts.
The proposals would allow trading in 90-day Treasury bill futures on two exchanges and four-year Treasury note futures on a third exchange.
Over objections from Commissioner David Gartner, the CFTC on Tuesday sent all three back to its staff for another 30 days of study.
Gartner complained that the three proposals had been pending for more than eight months and said no objections had been raised that were likely to result in rejection of the requests.
But the delay was ordered after the Treasury and Federal Reserve published a long report that raised a host of questions about futures based on government securities, but did not recommend against their approval.
Futures contracts based on three-month and one-year Treasury bills already are traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and long-term Treasury bond futures are handled by the Chicago Board of Trade.
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange had proposed a new futures market based on four-year Treasury notes, and three-month T-bill futures were proposed by the Amex Commodities Exchange-an off-shoot of the American Stock Exchange-and Commodity Exchange Inc. of Chicago.
A futures contract allows investors to buy and sell T-bills or Treasury notes for future delivery. So-called financial futures are meant to allow investors to hedge against increases in interest rates, just a grain futures provide protection against grain price changes.
Treasury and Federal Reserve officials questioned whether the new contracts might "affect adversely the efficiency and integrity" of the government bond and note market.
They also warned that unsophisticated investors "will not fully appreciate the risks inherent in futures contracts" based on government securities.
The Treasury study also questioned whether the CFTC could regulate the new contracts effectively, for the second time producing complaints from CFTC officials about other agencies intruding on their jurisdiction.
Earlier the Securities and Exchange Commission questioned a proposal to allow futures based on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and Gartner publically objected to the SEC's interference.
The out-going CFTC chairman, Gary Seevers, did not participate in the financial futures discussion. Seevers is leaving the agency next month to join Goldman Sachs & Co., which is launching a new commodities department that is expected to be active in the financial futures market.