Gary Gensler: Joe Biden’s Joseph P. Kennedy

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If Gary Gensler becomes the SEC chairperson, it will harken back to the SEC’s origins and its first chairman, Joseph P. Kennedy.

Gensler is uniquely well-suited for the task and issues facing investors and the markets.

So was Kennedy. President Roosevelt surprised and dismayed partisans by insisting that Kennedy be named SEC chairman. The president recognized who better to regulate the market than someone who succeeded in it. He was a millionaire in the late 1920s.

Kennedy was very aware of market excesses from direct experience and understood the need for the financial reforms of the 1930s. Gensler likewise had an excellent perch from the nation’s most prominent investment banking firm, Goldman Sachs. Gensler may well be Joe Biden’s Joe Kennedy.

Gensler succeeded at Goldman Sachs, where he worked from 1979 to 1997. He became one of the youngest partners in Goldman’s history at age 30 in mergers and acquisitions. He headed the firm’s media group, led fixed income and currency trading in Asia, and co-headed finance, being responsible for the firm's worldwide controllers and treasury efforts. He left at age 40.

He also was a senior advisor to Senator Paul Sarbanes in writing the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (2002) and was Under Secretary of the Treasury for domestic finance, and Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during the Clinton Administration. In recognition for his service, he was awarded Treasury’s highest honor, the Alexander Hamilton Award.

Gensler chaired the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) from 2009 to 2014, leading the Obama Administration’s reform of the $400 trillion swaps market.