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Cambridge Endowment for Research in Finance (CERF)


D'Maris Coffman

Origins  of  Modern  Futures  Markets:  Interwar  Commodities  Markets, 1925-1940 


Although grain futures by total value of contract s outstanding and total turnover represent a small fraction of futures trading today, grain futures are nevertheless the paradigmatic contract. The U.S. federal government undertook to monitor these markets in order to design better incentive systems, to guard against institutional failure, and to formulate effective public policies to curb ‘excessive’ speculation and to mitigate the effects of recurring agricultural crises in the 1920s and 1930s. A fuller understanding of the historical experience of government regulation of this sector can help us both to design and to justify better monitoring of the financial sector.