Every Friday, Law Decoded delivers analysis on the week’s critical stories in the realms of policy, regulation and law.

Editor’s note

In a tweet late last night, President Trump said that he and Melania had tested positive for COVID-19. If you weren’t already aware of that, you may want to catch up on a deluge of wishes for life and death, alongside speculation as to Trump’s announcement being a hoax, before sitting down to this week’s Law Decoded. Or possibly not.

Every week leading up to the presidential election features more amplified headlines. Law Decoded is likely not the ideal place to keep up with that news. By nature, this newsletter is not apolitical, but it is decidedly wonkish in its focus on politics, even as Brian Armstrong may have stigmatized the concept of a “mission focused” entity.*

*Although Law Decoded dogmatically opposes the crypto community’s overriding ignorance of proper hyphen usage. 

Lost in the mix of the whole election cycle is the end of the U.S. federal government’s fiscal year this week. Paying attention to fiscal years is not the most glamorous of pursuits, but the consequences have been huge. Government agencies fall under pressure to wrap up work that landed in a previous year’s budget. Crypto has seen an overload of news from U.S. agencies, but this week none upstaged the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The CFTC regulates derivatives markets in the U.S. Its authority derives from the Commodity Exchange Act of 1936, but the commission itself dates to 1974, making it 40 years younger than the related regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The nature of what is defined as commodities is that their value derives from a wider market. Securities depend on a third party to do their job right. Consequently, the CFTC is generally a less aggressive regulator, primarily interested in monitoring exchange markets themselves. Recent trends have put increasing authority over crypto markets in the CFTC’s hands. This week’s leading stories are chronologically reversed, backtracking the commission’s recent moves to bring crypto markets to heel, beginning with the driving story of yesterday.

Kollen Post, Policy Editor, @the_postman_