Joe Nocera for The New York Times: The Little Agency That Could

November 15th, 2013

The New York Times
by Joe Nocera
November 15, 2013

One of the big criticisms of the original team of financial regulators brought in by President Obama is that too many of them had worked in Bill Clinton’s Treasury Department. That, of course, was the Treasury Department run by Robert Rubin and then by Lawrence Summers — an agency with a bias toward deregulation. Those regulators had supported the elimination of Glass-Steagall, the 1930s law that separated investment banks from commercial banks, and were disinclined to regulate derivatives, “those financial weapons of mass destruction,” as Warren Buffett liked to call them.

One of those old Rubin hands was Gary Gensler. An 18-year veteran of Goldman Sachs, Gensler had been the assistant secretary of financial markets under Rubin, and then later undersecretary for domestic finance, and he shared his boss’s deregulatory bias.

When President Obama was picking his regulatory team, he chose Gensler to be the chairman of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. Now, Gensler is about to leave that post. And if people once doubted how tough he would be as a regulator, there is no doubt now: he may well be the single best appointment Obama made.

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