Federal Regulators, Except CFTC, Escape Shutdown

Oct 1 2013 | 1:36pm ET

The financial regulators that oversee the hedge fund industry and the rest of Wall Street are, with one exception, open for business today, in spite of the federal government shutdown.

With Congress unable or unwilling to pass a stopgap budget bill by last night's deadline, some 800,000 federal employees deemed non-essential were furloughed today. Among the non-essential are most employees of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

And while the CFTC moved to a bare-bones operation, with just 28 of 680 employees still on the job, overseeing the markets and pursuing ongoing litigation, the SEC is operating at full capacity—for at least "a few weeks."

"The SEC will be able to stay open in the event of a funding lapse because we have carryover funds available," SEC spokesman John Nester said yesterday.

Should the shutdown last longer than a few weeks, the SEC will have to furlough some 3,465 employees, with just 332 kept on to keep the U.S.'s primary securities regulator running.

For its part, the CFTC said that, effective immediately, it will stop investigation "victim complaints, initiating actions against wrongdoers and protecting any victim assets that may be at risk in such situations." But an agency spokesman said it could "recall certain employees if the need arises."

The SEC and CFTC are the only U.S. regulators funded by the Congressional appropriations process. The rest, including the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency will continue to operate normally no matter how long the shutdown lasts.

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