CFTC Set on Speculative Commodity Limits


"Detailed plan outlines CFTF's 2012 crackdown on commodity market speculators."

The U.S. futures regulator hopes to fully implement its biggest crackdown on commodity market speculators by early 2012, a year after the deadline set by lawmakers, it said in a filing that gave the most detailed legal argument and timeline yet for the controversial plan.

In the full text of its 100-page proposal, which must overcome significant internal skepticism before it can be finalized, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission also clarified an interim plan demanding much more information about the positions held by big traders in energy and metals markets, saying it would affect some 140 entities on a monthly basis.

The trading limits, designed to prevent price distortion from "excessive speculation," will be open for public comment for 60 days once the filing, now on the CFTC's website, is published in the government's Federal Register.

In the draft rule, the CFTC said it does not need to find that price-distorting speculation is happening—an important comment given the large volume of both analyst research and academic work questioning the popular assumption that financial speculators caused the surge in commodity prices in 2008.

"The Commission may impose position limits prophylactically, based on its reasonable judgment that such limits are necessary," the agency said in its filing.

Although the limits were written into the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul mandated by Congress last summer, a majority of the CFTC's five commissioners must still vote to finalize the rule sometime after the comment period ends.

Consumers and some lawmakers have urged the CFTC to move fast on the limits to prevent another run-up in commodity prices, many of which are again rising to their highest since the record rally of 2008.

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