The financial world started this week to the sad news that Bart Chilton, former commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, died at the age of 58. Chilton was known for his folksy, homespun turns of phrase and initial criticism of high-frequency trading.
Chilton often referred to those who engage in HFT as “cheetahs” and “cyber cowboys” among other things, and frequently made the claim that high-frequency traders take advantage of retail investors. It should be noted that Chilton eventually went to work for an HFT lobbying group, the Modern Markets Initiative, but brushed off criticism by saying the group embraced many of the regulatory changes he had advocated for over the years.
Chilton was also interested in Bitcoin and the wider cryptocurrency landscape. In 2017, he made the case that Bitcoin is not a “scam or a fraud” in rebuke to comments made by Jamie Dimon at the time. He also argued that proper regulations needed to be in place so sustainable and long-term growth could be achieved in the crypto industry.
Nominated to the CFTC by President George Bush, and renominated by President Obama, Chilton most recently hosted a financial show, Boom Bust, on RT America, part of the global Russian-owned news network RT. A Democrat, Chilton appears to have been well liked across the political spectrum, with Scott O’Malia, a Republican commissioner who served with Chilton, telling the Financial Times, “He cared passionately for the little guy.” That’s one thing, at least, that we can all agree on is needed more in the world of finance.