The Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) defines the term “commodity” broadly. In particular, CEA Section 1a(9) defines a commodity by referencing specific enumerated commodities such as cotton and soybeans along with the following broad catch-all language: “and all services, rights, and interests […] in which contracts for future delivery are presently or in the future dealt in.” The only explicit exclusion from the definition of a commodity are onions and motion picture box office receipts.
The CFTC has taken the view that the definition of a “commodity” effectively means that any service, right or interest for which a futures contract exists, or could exist in the future, qualifies as a commodity. Examples of commodities include physical commodities such as energy, metals and agricultural commodities, and intangible commodities such as environmental carbon offsets and interest rates. More recently, the CFTC took the view that certain digital assets such as bitcoin and ether qualify as a commodity. The impact of an asset class qualifying as a commodity means that the CFTC’s regulatory and enforcement authority applies to commodity interest activity related to the commodity (e.g., futures trading for the commodity), and the CFTC has the ability to pursue manipulative and fraudulent activity in the underlying commodity markets (e.g., manipulative activity in the spot and forward markets for the commodity).