Born: October 18, 1957
Gary Gensler is presently the Chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He was nominated by President Joe Biden on February 3, 2021, confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 14, 2021, and sworn into office on April 17, 2021.
His 5 year term goes into 2026.
Gensler was born in Baltimore, Maryland His dad, Sam Gensler, was a cigarette and pinball machine vendor to local bars. The young Gensler was given his first exposure to the real-world side of finance when Sam would take him to the bars of Baltimore to count nickels from the vending machines.
He graduated from Pikesville High School in 1975 and moved onto the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania where he got a degree in economics. Gensler then added a master's in business administration.
In 1979, Gensler joined the investment bank, Goldman Sachs, where he would spend the next 18 years. He became one of the youngest to make partner at the firm, doing so by the age of 30.
The 1980s saw him operating as one of the top merger and acquisition bankers, focusing upon media companies. He was the one heading up the Goldman efforts in this area.
One of the notable accomplishments with Goldman was advising the National Football League in capturing the then-most lucrative deal in television history, when the NFL secured a $3.6 billion deal selling television sports rights.
His time at Goldman ended when he was nominated by President Bill Clinton and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in 1997.
Gensler served in the United States Department of the Treasury as Assistant Secretary for Financial Markets from 1997 to 1999. He then was Undersecretary for Domestic Finance from 1999 to 2001.
As Assistant Secretary, Gensler served as a senior advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury in developing and implementing the federal government's policies for debt management and the sale of U.S. government securities.
As Undersecretary of the Treasury for Domestic Finance, Gensler advised and assisted Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers on aspects of domestic finance including formulating policy and legislation in these areas:
- financial institutions
- public debt management
- capital markets
- government financial management services
- federal lending
- fiscal affairs
- government sponsored enterprises
- community development
Gensler became the 11th chair of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission under President Obama. He was nominated on December 18, 2008 which was officially sent to the U.S. Senate on January 20, 2009. Gensler was approved by the U.S. Senate in an 88–6 confirmation vote. Gensler was sworn in on May 26, 2009.
Maryland Financial Consumer Protection Commission
In 2017, Gensler was selected by the Maryland Senate President and House Speaker to serve as Chairman of the Maryland Financial Consumer Protection Commission, which assessed the impact of potential changes to federal financial industry laws, regulations, budgets, and policies on the state.
Gensler stepped into the spotlight as chair for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). He generated a great deal of controversy as the financial world transitions due to advancements in technology. One of the prime areas of focus is cryptocurrency.
Much of Gensler tenure regarding cryptocurrency is engaging in a battle with the Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) for oversight. He maintained that most digital assets are securities coming under the SEC's jurisdiction. The CFTC claims that they are closer to commodities. Even Gensler has admitted that Bbitcoin is not a security.
Another issue is a lack of regulation regarding these new assets. Gensler is accused of creating regulation through enforcement. This is concerning to many as some companies have abandoned the U.S. market. The EU got ahead of the United States when it comes to setting for clarity regarding regulation.
On October 15, 2021 the SEC approved the first bitcoin futures exchange-traded fund (ETF) in the United States after Gensler announced support. Since that time Gensler opposed approving pure play bitcoin ETFs due to bitcoin remaining subject to fraud and market manipulation. This led to Grayscale filing a lawsuit against the agency.
Coinbase is one of the targets of the agency. In 2023, the company was notified the SEC was planning on suing it for selling unregistered securities. Other exchanges were sued, causing some to abandon the US market. The oppressive environment created by the regulators caused Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase, to threaten that the company might move its headquarters to a country more favorable to cryptocurrency companies.