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Obama appoints Tim Massad to lead Commodity Futures Trading Commission

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- President Obama said Tuesday he is nominating Timothy Massad to head up "a small but mighty independent" U.S. agency, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Massad will replace Gary Gensler, who has stayed on in the role since his term expired in April.

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After noting the nation's ongoing economic recovery from deep recession, Obama said: "Our markets have hit record highs and there's no doubt our financial system is more stable. And a big reason for that stability is the work of a small but mighty independent agency: the Commodity Futures Trading Commission."

Among the CFTC's responsibilities is to make sure banks don't overreach when it comes to risking their customers' deposits and oversight of trading in derivatives, which precipitated the financial crisis that threatened the underpinnings of the U.S. economy.

The president credited Gensler for having "done as much as anybody to implement financial reform."

"Under his watch, the CFTC has transformed what was a secretive and shadowy derivatives market by bringing large parts of it onto exchanges to transparent trading. And CFTC is working hand in hand with other agencies to protect consumers by implementing the Volcker Rule, which Secretary [Jack] Lew has called on regulators to complete by the end of the year."

Obama lauded Massad for his handling of a "thankless task," the winding down of the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

"He's quietly been very successful at it," Obama said.

"Tim is a guy who doesn't seek the spotlight, but he consistently delivers. He gets a high return for American taxpayers without a lot of fanfare.

"I have every confidence that he is the right man to lead an agency designed to prevent future crises -- because I think it's safe to say that he never wants to have to manage something like TARP again."

The president called on the Senate to confirm Massad "as soon as possible."

"And while I'm at it, I would urge Congress to give Tim and the CFTC the resources it needs to do the job," Obama said. "Ever since we passed Wall Street reform, its opponents have tried to starve funding for the agencies responsible for carrying it out. The men and women of the CFTC are charged with protecting us from financial harm, but they are undermanned. They are outgunned. They are working overtime. The sequester cuts have made it even harder for them to do their job. They've lost 5 percent of their team this year."

He said failing to give the agency the funding it needs to follow through on enforcement is "like not having enough cops on the beat, not having enough prosecutors to prosecute crimes."

"This [adequate funding] makes us safer. It makes our financial system work better, and it's foolish for us not to adequately resource it," he said.

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