Biden Names Ex-Goldman Sachs Banker Turned Wall Street Foe Gary Gensler to Head SEC

WILMINGTON, DELAWARE - JANUARY 14: U.S. President-elect Joe Biden speaks as he lays out his plan for combating the coronavirus and jump-starting the nation’s economy at the Queen theater January 14, 2021 in Wilmington, Delaware. President-elect Biden is expected to unveil a stimulus package with a price tag of trillions …
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President-elect Joe Biden is set to nominate Gary Gensler, a former Goldman Sachs banker who chaired the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in the Obama administration’s early years, as the next chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Biden announced the pick Monday, along with his plan to name Rohit Chopra as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Chopra, a commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission, is considered an ally of Sen. Elizabeth Warren. He helped launch the agency in 2008 and served as deputy director during the Obama administration.

Gensler was fiercely critical of Wall Street during his time at the CFTC and fought for more regulation of the derivatives business, surprising some in finance and the administration. President Obama declined to nominate him for a second term and Gensler was replaced by Timothy Massad,  who was seen as far less threatening to Wall Street firms.

Gensler has many critics on Wall Street, including inside Goldman, and many former Obama administration officials have been critical of his approach, saying he sought blunt, unilateral regulation where nuance and international cooperation were more appropriate. Other critics say that despite Gensler’s enthusiasm for reining in Wall Street’s derivatives business he was ultimately ineffective because he was outsmarted and outflanked by Obama administration officials who wanted a lighter regulatory touch.

Republican leader of the House Financial Services Committee, Patrick McHenry (R-NC), praised the nomination on Monday.

“Gary’s acceptance of financial technology and cryptocurrency is a welcome change from many Democrats who avoid innovation just because they don’t understand it,” McHenry said.

 

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