Timothy Massad Tapped as Chief Derivatives Regulator

A blog about business and economics.
Nov. 12 2013 8:57 AM

Timothy Massad Tapped as Chief Derivatives Regulator

Timothy Massad

Treasury Department photo

Timothy Massad, an assistant secretary at the Treasury Department who's been running TARP oversight, is going be nominated to succeed Gary Gensler as chair of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission.

The CFTC is a bit of an obscure agency, but it's role as a derivatives regulator is substantively important. But what really makes this a noteworthy move is that the CFTC's previous chairman, Gary Gensler, was basically the toughest regulator in the Obama administration. That, in turn, was a bit of a surprise. Gensler is a case study in how difficult it is to predict ideology from biography. He's a former Goldman Sachs executive and a veteran of the Clinton administration. That sounded like the makings of a relatively meek regulator. But instead it turned out to be the biography of a hard-charging ambitious guy who wasn't interested in taking crap from Wall Street and who wanted to flex the CFTC's muscles.


That in turn led to a bit of a deteriorating relationship with other administration figures. Gensler's allies would characterize this as a question of Gensler being a dedicated public servant trapped in an administration full of Wall Street toadies. Gensler's critics (naturally) characterize the issue somewhat differently, seeing the disputes as in large part inter-agency power struggles and Gensler as basically an egomanic and poor team player.

As for Massad, I wouldn't say that we know very much about his views on derivatives or anything else. And that's probably a big part of what's appealing about him to the president. Massad has been in the vicinity of a lot of controversial decisions and intra-administration spats, and as far as I know he hasn't been an important source to anyone as a leaker or provider of perspectives on any of it. In other words, he's (probably) a team player who (probably) won't get into Gensler-style quasi-public fights with other regulators. The question, obviously, is whether in practice that just means giving up on serious derivatives regulation.

But mostly I'm very hesitant to make strong predictions this at all. The CFTC has been full of surprises over the past four years, and Massad's played his cards very close to his chest. Perhaps confirmation hearings will illuminate.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.


Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

Do the Celebrities Whose Nude Photos Were Stolen Have a Case Against Apple?

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

Future Tense

Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company


How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

Scotland Is Inspiring Secessionists Across America

The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant

The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 18 2014 1:34 PM Americans Fault Obama for Giving Them Exactly the Anti-ISIS Strategy They Want
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
Sept. 18 2014 2:00 PM On the Death of My Homophobic Dog I named him Liberace, but I couldn’t have chosen a less appropriate namesake for this coarse, emotionally withholding Norwich terrier.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 12:03 PM The NFL Opines on “the Role of the Female”
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Everyday That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 2:03 PM Ryan Adams’ New Song Is a Reminder That He’s One of His Generation’s Best Songwriters
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 1:24 PM Can the Celebrities Whose Photos Were Stolen Really Sue Apple? It may be harder to prove “harm” than it seems.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.