Gary Gensler

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Gary Gensler was sworn in as the Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission on May 26, 2009. Prior to holding this position, he served at the U.S. Department of the Treasury as Under Secretary of Domestic Finance (1999-2001) and as Assistant Secretary of Financial Markets (1997-1999). He subsequently served as a Senior Advisor to the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, Senator Paul Sarbanes, on the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, reforming corporate responsibility, accounting and securities laws.

As Under-Secretary of the Treasury, Gensler acted as principal adviser to Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and later to Secretary Lawrence Summers on the topic of domestic finance. The office was responsible for formulating policy and legislation in the areas of U.S. financial markets, public debt management, the banking system, financial services, fiscal affairs, federal lending, Government Sponsored Enterprises, and community development.

Prior to joining Treasury, Chairman Gensler worked for 18 years at Goldman Sachs, where he was a partner.[1]

Pushing for Reforms

Once a former Wall Street trader, Gary Gensler has been recently pushing for the most stringent reforms as President of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. [2] "The proposals include forcing the big banks that sell derivatives to conduct their trades in the open on public exchanges and clear them through central clearinghouses, so that any investor can see the prices that dealers charge their customers. Today, those transactions are bilateral and private." [3] Gensler has his work cut out for him as he must reverse the deregulatory policies that he had pushed for only a decade earlier as an official in President Clinton's Treasury Department. [4]

Gensler explained his regulatory view to the New York Times: "“Wall Street’s interest is not always the same as the public’s interest,” he says now. “Wall Street thrives and makes money in inefficient markets, and I am creating efficiencies in the market.” [5]

In his highly public role, Gensler has blamed the recent Credit Default Swaps as playing the lead role in causing the financial crisis. "He called for a central clearing house of the standardized derivatives and more stringent regulations for CDS dealers. And this morning, the Washington Post reports that Gensler is seeking to “elimate the unfettered access” Wall Street has had to commodities trading for the past two decades." [6] He also proposes: "to cap the amount of trading in oil and metals contracts that Wall Street banks can execute over a certain period of time (Specifically, they can only trade at twice the volume of other speculators). Since the 1990s, Wall Street firms have dominated trading, contributing to huge price swings, advocates for the proposal say." [7]

From the beginning of taking his position at the CFTC, he has outlined a vision for greater reform of Wall Street. “My firm belief is that we must aggressively use all existing authorities to ensure market integrity,” said Gary Gensler, chairman of the commission, in a statement. He said regulators would also examine whether to impose federal “speculative limits” on futures contracts for energy products." [8]

Record and controversies

Role in financial crisis and bailout

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Background info

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Contact details

Articles & resources

Related Sourcewatch articles

External resources


  1. U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler, Biosketch, accessed February 9, 2010
  2. Graham Bowley,"Gary Gensler's Conversion to Financial Reform,","New York Times,"March 10, 2010.
  3. Id.
  4. Paul Wiseman,"CFTC Chief Gary Gensler is Out to Police Financial Wild West,","USA Today,"November 23, 2009.
  5. Graham Bowley,"Gary Gensler's Conversion to Financial Reform,","New York Times,"March 10, 2010.
  6. Michael Corkery,"Meet Wall Street's Archenemy: Gary Gensler,", "Wall Street Journal," April 1, 2010.
  7. Id.
  8. Edmund L. Andrews,"U.S. Ponders New Curbs on Speculators,", "New York Times," July 7, 2009.

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