Roberta Romano


The U.S. regulation of derivative securities-financial instruments whose value is derived from an underlying security or index of securities-is distinctive from that of other nations because it has multiple regulators for ,financial derivatives and securities. Commentators have debated whether shifting to the unitary regulator approach taken by other nations would be more desirable and legislation to effect such a change has been repeatedly introduced in Congress. But it has not gotten very far. This article analyzes the political history of the regulation of derivative securities in the United States, in order to explain the institutional difference between the U.S. regime and other nations' and its staying power. It examines the four principal federal regulatory initiatives regarding derivative securities (the Future Trading Act of 1921, the Commodity Exchange Act of 1936, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Act of 1974, and the Futures Trading Practices Act of 1992), by a narrative account of the legislative process and a quantitative analysis of roll-call votes, committee-hearing witnesses, and issue salience.

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