Gary Gensler: Banking’s enemy #1
Gary Gensler is on a mission to make the CFTC the world’s most influential financial markets regulator. He wields an unprecedented mandate to interpret the statute book and thereby shape the future of banking. But his former colleagues in the banking industry claim his quest for power is based on personal ambition, causing him to ride roughshod over their reasonable opinions and creating a template that will bring unnecessary hardship to the financial industry and the broader economy. Hamish Risk interviewed the man many bankers call the “most dangerous man in finance”.
GARY GENSLER LIVES by the book. The book in question has a bland beige-coloured cover, and runs to 880 pages. It’s titled the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and was signed into law by president Barack Obama in July. Gensler is interested in the 164 pages that contain Title VII, the regulation of the $615 trillion over-the-counter derivatives markets. He reads it intently each morning as he makes his way south on the Amtrak Express to Washington, DC, from his home in Baltimore, and then after he transfers to the metro at Union Station for the four-stop ride to Farragut North, a short walk to his office on 21st Street.
Over the next 10 months, he and his ever-expanding staff at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission will use that statute as a template to write more than 60 rules that could change the face of US financial markets, and the dominance of the big Wall Street firms. How the rules will be written and applied is the $40 billion question – that amount is roughly the annual revenues Wall Street reaped from the OTC derivatives markets in the years leading up to the financial crisis.