We confess to being puzzled at the Reuters story “Swaps regulator Gensler: banker turned Wall Street scourge” in today’s Financials Newsletter talking about Gary Gensler’s legacy at the CFTC. It is noted in the article that bankers really did not like the guy, thus leading to the question, what will Gensler’s legacy be?
If he is a scourge, as the headline points out, Wall Street’s wings will be substantially clipped in the coming months and years as the Dodd-Frank Act rules he ushered in take hold. The US banking sector, thanks in large part to Gensler’s focus on rulemaking in the derivatives space, could reduce bank profits and business practices in the coming years. In that sense, he could well be a scourge for Wall Street.
Those on the other side of the argument may end up praising Gensler for the yeoman’s work he did in his almost five years at the helm of the CFTC. As the Reuters piece points out, he ushered in about 70 percent of the rules the CFTC was mandated to carry out by Congress. Gensler largely ignored the lobbyists from Wall Street and rammed home many rules by a simple majority on the commission. He’ll get a hand for being a bureaucrat that worked hard. That said, he’s left the remaining 30 percent of the job to the next nominee for chairman, Timothy Massad. Some say, that final portion of the rules may be the most difficult.
Critics on the other side of the question have also said Gensler hasn’t done enough – allowing Dodd-Frank to get watered down during the rulemaking process and leaving our financial system still vulnerable.
And so we have headlines and critics calling Gensler a scourge. Wall Street traditionally has hated regulation and has sent an army of lobbyists to Washington to visit early and often with regulators and lawmakers. Where they have not succeeded in softening regs, they’ve insulted Gensler. Where they have, they’ve granted little or no credit to the man who has brought an adversarial style to the CFTC, a marked departure from prior CFTC chairmen.
If the bankers would rather not have him round for dinner that’s fine but scourge is a pretty strong word without the trial and verdict of history.