CFTC names "flash crash" expert as chief economist (Reuters)

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. futures regulator said on Tuesday it has promoted Andrei Kirilenko, an economist known for his role in the review of the May 6 “flash crash,” as chief economist for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Kirilenko, who has worked on research into how high-frequency and algorithmic trading affects markets, has been highly sought after by commissioners seeking opinions on how to use new authority to rein in computer-driven trading, and how to try to prevent another flash crash.

The CFTC’s chief economist is responsible for a team of analysts who provide advice to the CFTC on policy and economic research.

The agency’s former chief economist, Jeffrey Harris, faced skepticism from lawmakers after oil prices spiked to record highs in 2008 when he testified that speculators were not behind the surge. Harris left the agency to return to academia in February.

Kirilenko joined the CFTC in 2008 after 12 years at the International Monetary Fund, where he worked on global capital markets issues. He has a PhD in economics from the University of Pennsylvania.

Kirilenko was awarded the CFTC’s highest honor — the Chairman’s Award for Excellence — in 2010.

He was part of the team from the CFTC and Securities and Exchange Commission that investigated the May 6 flash crash, when the Dow Jones industrial average took an unprecedented dive of nearly 700 points in minutes before recovering.

He has defended the agencies’ staff report against critics, noting it is “the most exact audit trail” of what happened in markets that day.

Kirilenko was also a co-author of an academic report that concluded high-frequency traders did not trigger the events of May 6, but “exacerbated” volatility.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Alden Bentley)

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