Yesterday morning, House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) visited the Chicago headquarters of the CME Group, “the world’s largest owner and operator” of private exchanges for derivatives products. CME Group specializes in a number of markets, including trading futures contracts for various blends of crude oil and food commodities. Cantor met with executives, and at one point, gave brief remarks before CME Group employees and various commodity speculators.
Cantor told the audience of speculators that his Republican caucus would “do our part” to block the implementation of financial reforms passed last year as part of the sweeping Dodd-Frank law. He even called out the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the regulators in charge of overseeing derivatives and energy speculation, and promised to stop regulations from going online:
CANTOR: And you’ve managed to be able to serve that function in the CME Group for so much of this country and the world, and you’ve also managed to position as a true world leader. We want that in every arena.We want to help you continue to lead for America, that means we gotta do our part when you see the implementation of Dodd-Frank coming at you like a barreling train. We want to help control that so that we can get some sensible, sensible follow up to that legislation. [...] Whether it’s the EPA, the FDA, the FCC, the SEC, the CFTC, you name it, there is an acronym for a federal agency causing harm right now. We’re trying to pull that in.
Currently, energy speculation is at an all time record high. In 2008, according to many analysts, oil speculation — which took place on unregulated private exchanges owned by the CME Group and a set of international exchanges — spiked gas prices to unprecedented levels. Now, excessive oil speculation is again driving the pain at the pump. While Goldman Sachs has claimed that at least $25 of the current price of crude oil is due to speculation, financial experts contacted by ThinkProgress say the Goldman Sachs number is probably very conservative.
Although the Dodd-Frank reforms passed last year included a new mandate for regulators to curb rampant oil speculation, these regulations have not yet been implemented. Republicans, under Cantor’s leadership, are working furiously to ensure that they never will be. For instance, Cantor’s caucus has proposed massive budget cuts to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission — the regulatory body charged with overseeing oil speculators at the CME Group. As the New York Times hasreported, CFTC regulators literally do not have enough money even for staplers, and can barely enforce laws on the books before even getting to new Dodd-Frank rules. In addition, Republicans are also pushing a separate bill to delay Dodd-Frank derivatives reforms for at least eighteen months.
CANTOR: Now the grow piece, it comes back to what you do here. You provide the center, it’s almost like the center of the universe for liquidity. It is ultimately providing a service to investors and to small business owners at the end to control and predict their risk and try to minimize the cost of goods that they buy and ultimately to lower their costs of operating so that there can be a cheaper outcome whether it is good and capital or what have you. And you’ve managed to be able to serve that function in the CME Group for so much of this country and the world and you’ve also managed to position as a true world leader. We want that in every arena. We want to help you continue to lead for America, that means we gotta do our part when you see the implementation of Dodd-Frank coming at you like a barreling train. We want to help control that so that we can get some sensible, sensible follow up to that legislation. It’s very troubling. But we’ve got similar instances in much of, a lot of other areas. It’s not just financial services where federal bureaucracy has rum amok. So the Republicans and our growth agenda are very focused on stopping regulations that negatively impact people who want to create growth and value. Whether it’s the EPA, the FDA, the FCC, the SEC, the CFTC, you name it, there’s an acronym for a federal agency causing harm right now. We’re trying to pull that in.