Gary Gensler is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he writes and teaches about blockchain. He is also a member of he regulatory transition team for President-Elect Joe Biden.
He previously served as Hillary Clinton's chief financial officer in the 2016 presidential election and was the 11th chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) under President Barack Obama from May 2009 to January 3, 2014. He was nominated to that position in December of 2008 by president-elect Obama. Gensler succeeded acting CFTC chairman Michael Dunn.
Gensler brought massive financial reforms to the unregulated $400 trillion swaps market after the financial crisis of 2008. Under his leadership, the CFTC implemented swap market reforms contained in the Dodd-Frank Act, including the requirement that the world's largest swap dealers register with the CFTC. He also led the agency in charging five major financial institutions with manipulating the LIBOR and other benchmark interest rates and championed new rules requiring one of the banks, Barclays, to report rates based on actual transactions when possible and to prevent conflicts of interest.
Gensler's term ended on January 3, 2014. Prior to Gensler's departure, President Barack Obama nominated Timothy Massad to succeed Gensler as Chairman. Massad assumed the chairmanship in June 2014.
The U.S. Senate confirmed Gensler to head the CFTC on May 19, 2009. However, Senator Bernie Sanders and another unidentified lawmaker placed a hold on the nomination because Gensler had previously worked alongside Robert E. Rubin and Alan Greenspan to block CFTC proposals to regulate credit default swaps. He also supported the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which enabled the merger of banks, stock brokerage companies, and insurance companies.   Credit default swaps have been blamed for having played a role in the collapse of American International Group and Bear Stearns.
Gensler served in the Department of Treasury from 1997 to 2001, first as Assistant Secretary for Financial Markets and later as Under Secretary for Domestic Finance. While assistant Treasury secretary, on Sept. 20, 1998 Gensler visited the offices of Long-Term Capital Management, along with New York Federal Reserve President William McDonough and Executive Vice President Peter Fisher and bankers from J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs, to inspect the books of the hedge fund. They discovered the notional value of all of LTCM's position totaled a surprising $1 trillion. This visit was the day before McDonough decided to intervene in the LTCM situation. Gensler subsequently testified to the U.S. House Committee on Banking and Financial Services in May of 1999 about a report from the President's Working Group on Financial Markets titled "Hedge Funds, Leverage, and the Lessons of Long-Term Capital Management."
A Baltimore native, Gensler is a past treasurer of the Maryland Democratic Party. He later sought to become party chairman. Gensler was in charge of the Obama transition team reviewing the SEC, and it was speculated he might be put in charge of that agency.
In March of 2006, Gensler was appointed to the board and named audit chair of Wageworks, an educational benefits organization founded in 2000. Gensler has also served audit committee chair of Strayer Education, Inc., treasurer of the Baltimore Museum of Art and Trustee of The Bryn Mawr School and Enterprise Community Partners as well as a number of other community and civic organizations.
As undersecretary for domestic finance in 2000, Gensler publicly backed legislation that would have cut Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's then $2.25 billion line of credit with Treasury. The remarks roiled the debt markets, causing investors to dump securities issued by the two government sponsored enterprises. Subsequently the Treasury department issued a statement reassuring the market that Gensler's testimony did not portend to a policy shift and was not consistent with longstanding Clinton administration policies in this area.
Previously, Gensler spent 18 years with Goldman Sachs, where he was co-head of finance, responsible for worldwide controller and Treasury functions. Gensler was a senior advisor for the Hillary Clinton for President Exploratory Committee. He was a Hillraiser fundraiser for Clinton and later contributed to the presidential election campaign of Barack Obama.
He was also the co-author of the book The Great Mutual Fund Trap, which promoted the idea that active trading and investing is an inefficient strategy for individual investors, and that individuals should stick with index and exchange traded funds. Ironically, Gensler's twin brother Robert Gensler runs an actively-managed fund for T. Rowe Price. In a 2003 column, Marketwatch columnist Paul B. Farrell named Gensler and The Great Mutual Fund Trap co-author Greg Baer heroes of fund reform.
Gensler holds an MBA and a bachelor of science degree in economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated summa cum laude.
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