Forbidden fruits

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Description: This past July, nearly 2,000 retail traders converged on the upscale Frankfurt suburb of Aschaffenberg, Germany. Futures aren't really the big story anymore, says Bruno Stenger, who's been running the conferences for more than a decade. In Germany, the big stories are certificates and contracts for difference (CFD), he says, referring to two varieties of product sweeping the Continent. The new products have several regulatory strikes against them, and for a change it's not the fault of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Rather, it's because most of the products aren't exchange-traded instruments, but over-the-counter (OTC) instruments that are either hedged on-exchange, or not hedged at all. The US ban on such instruments flows from decisions made in the 1930s, when the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) led to the creation of the Commodity Exchange Authority, partly to prevent traders from cornering the grain markets and partly to prevent "boiler rooms" from creating and selling lake futures contracts.
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