The end of an era

December 4, 2013 07:40 AM

Within less than a month, Gary Gensler will depart as Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. He will be feted before that, and for good reason.

This perspective comes from the beaches of northeast Florida, far from the Nation's Capitol, but I have had an opportunity to follow Chairman Gensler's tenure at the CFTC with admiration for what I know from previous experience is a tough job.

When he was first appointed, some worried that he would bring with him the skepticism of regulation that permeates Wall Street where he had been a partner at Goldman Sachs before a stint at the Treasury Department. Boy, were they wrong!

Chairman Gensler proved to be a thoughtful, measured proponent of quality markets. He took a lot of heat as a result, both within and without the CFTC headquarters on 21st Street. He confronted a massive task of implementing most of the Dodd-Frank Act's provisions on derivatives while, at the same time, operating the thousands of other tasks assigned to the agency.

He sat through countless meetings with industry representatives on Dodd-Frank issues, not to mention the routine meetings and open forums of the CFTC. All the time with a budget that would be a rounding error at most other government agencies.

Chairman Gensler pushed back against resistance to overseas application of US regulation when the risk to the American economy was real and present. Had we learned nothing from the Great Recession?

Of course, like any Chairman, he did not act alone. He needed two things: Support and guidance from the other Commissioners, and the talents of a dedicated and skilled staff. He got both - no small feat. His success is theirs as well. Congratulations to all for a job well done!

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