Gary Gensler, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair, is one of the world’s most powerful financial regulators and a key player in the push by the government to regulate the trillion-dollar plus cryptocurrency industry. Washington Post columnist David Ignatius speaks with Gensler about the cryptocurrency landscape, the growth in digital trading platforms and his call for more stringent financial disclosures around sustainability.

Highlights

SEC Chair Gary Gensler said working with Congress could help regulate “a world of stablecoins.” “I think that we have robust authorities at the Securities and Exchange Commission and we’re going to use them and continue. I think it would be better if the platforms that are trading securities, the platforms that have lending products… that they come in and we sort through, figure out how best to get them within the perimeter. We’ll also be the cop on the beat, bringing those enforcement actions as well. Working with Congress would help, because there’s a lot of coordination by and amongst our financial regulators… In a world of stablecoins, I do think that there would be some help from Congress. I do think we can work with Congress with regard to the coordination again of commodities and securities. But in terms of the SEC, I do think we have robust authority, but there are gaps as I’ve identified them.” (Washington Post Live)
SEC Chairman Gary Gensler, who has been moving aggressively to impose tougher restrictions on cryptocurrency players, questioned whether digital assets will prove an enduring alternative to public currency. “History tells us that private forms of money don’t last long,” he said. (Washington Post Live)
SEC Chair Gary Gensler said if Chinese financial auditors do not provide greater disclosure to consumers, the SEC could suspend trading for nearly 300 companies “raising money in the U.S.” “We have about 270 China-related companies raising money here in the U.S. We put a pause on new companies issuing in the U.S. until we can enhance the disclosure. We have a basic bargain in the United States… investors get to decide if you invest, but the issuer has to give you full and fair disclosure, and we protect against fraud and alike, and manipulation in the markets…. Given some of the changes in the regulatory and political climate in China, we’ve asked issuers to put greater emphasis on the disclosure that usually all you’re buying is a Cayman Islands company that has some legal arrangements with an operating company in China. And you don’t actually own directly those Chinese companies. A second thing happening is about 19 years ago there was another basic bargain that we set up an organization here in the United States to look at the auditing of the public companies, and it’s about trust in our capital markets that you have somebody, it’s called the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, that looks at the auditors to ensure that the numbers are accurate. And what do we find 19 years later? 50 or so jurisdictions have allowed that but two have not and that’s Hong Kong and China, and so Congress weighed in unanimously… and we’re supposed to basically solve this in the next three years, meaning China needs to comply… or we’re going to be suspending trading for those 270 companies.” (Washington Post Live)
“Cryptocurrencies… [are] an asset class that’s highly speculative, stored on a digital ledger… In often cases there’s not something standing behind it other than what someone will pay you for it.” (Washington Post Live)
Chair Gary Gensler said stablecoins are ‘challenging the established business models.’ “I think [cryptocurrency] has been a catalyst for change... I also think it is raising new and interesting innovations around how exchanges work and how even potentially some forms of decentralized lending... challenging the established business models.” (Washington Post Live)

Gary Gensler

Provided by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Gary Gensler was nominated by President Joseph R. Biden to Chair the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on February 3, 2021, confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 14, 2021, and sworn into office on April 17, 2021.

Before joining the SEC, Gensler was professor of the Practice of Global Economics and Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, co-director of MIT’s Fintech@CSAIL, and senior advisor to the MIT Media Lab Digital Currency Initiative. From 2017-2019, he served as chair of the Maryland Financial Consumer Protection Commission.

Gensler was formerly chair of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, leading the Obama Administration’s reform of the $400 trillion swaps market. He also was senior advisor to U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes in writing the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (2002), and was undersecretary of the Treasury for Domestic Finance and assistant secretary of the Treasury from 1997-2001.

In recognition for his service, he was awarded the Alexander Hamilton Award, the U.S. Treasury’s highest honor. He is a recipient of the 2014 Frankel Fiduciary Prize.

Prior to his public service, Gensler worked at Goldman Sachs, where he became a partner in the Mergers & Acquisition department, headed the firm’s Media Group, led fixed income & currency trading in Asia, and was co-head of Finance, responsible for the firm's worldwide Controllers and Treasury efforts.

A native of Baltimore, Md., Gensler earned his undergraduate degree in economics in 1978 and his MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, in 1979. He has three daughters.