President Obama wants to put the so-called dark markets under control, the New York Times reports, seeking congressional approval to regulate the byzantine world of derivatives trading—which played a large role in the current financial mess. In a letter to lawmakers, Treasury chief Timothy Geithner calls for an oversight system to be run either by the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
The idea is to make the derivatives market more transparent, subject to tighter regulation, and less susceptible to fraud. Among the financial instruments to be reined in: credit default swaps, which led to the demise of insurer AIG. The Times notes that Warren Buffett once referred to derivatives as “weapons of mass destruction.”