Gary Gensler

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This article is about the American public official. For other uses, see Gensler (disambiguation).
Gary Gensler
Gary Gensler official portrait small.jpg
Chairperson of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission
In office
May 26, 2009 – January 3, 2014
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Walter Lukken (Acting)
Succeeded by Mark Wetjen (Acting)
Personal details
Born (1957-10-18) October 18, 1957 (age 57)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Francesca Danieli 1986–2006
Children Anna
Alma mater University of Pennsylvania
Religion Judaism

Gary S. Gensler (born October 18, 1957) previously served as the 11th chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission under President Barack Obama from May 26, 2009 to January 3, 2014.

Gensler was Undersecretary of the Treasury (1999-2001) and Assistant Secretary of the Treasury (1997-1999) in the United States. Barack Obama selected him to lead the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which has jurisdiction over $5 trillion in trades, approximately 9% of the world market.[7][8] Gensler was sworn in on May 26, 2009.

His current term as CFTC Commissioner ended on April 13, 2012; however, he was allowed to continue as a holdover until January 3, 2014, shortly after Timothy Massad was nominated by President Obama to replace him as CFTC Chairman.[9][10]

Early life and education[edit]

Gensler was born in Baltimore, in 1957, the son of Jane (née Tilles) and Sam Gensler.[11] His father was a cigarette and pinball machine vendor to local bars,[12] and was very active in the Baltimore Democratic Party. He has a twin brother, Robert Gensler, who went to the same college and now runs an actively managed fund for T. Rowe Price.[13] He also has a sister Barbra Gensler Skarzynski and two other brothers Kenny Gensler and David Gensler. In 1978, he received a summa cum laude Economics B.S. from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. The next year, he earned a Master of Business Administration from Wharton.[14]

Business career[edit]

Gary Gensler joined Goldman Sachs in 1978 and spent 18 years there. He became a partner at the age of 30, youngest in Goldman Sachs history at the time. He later became head of the company’s fixed income and currency trading operations in Tokyo by the mid-’90s, and eventually the company’s co-head of finance.[15]

He also advised the National Football League in its television negotiations in 1990. He helped raise the TV-advertisement-price-per-team to $32 million per year, up from $17 million from the previous contract.

Gensler is the co-author of the 2000 book (with Greg Baer), The Great Mutual Fund Trap. It argues that active trading and investing is an inefficient strategy for individual investors, and that individuals should stick with index and exchange traded funds.

Political career[edit]

Clinton administration[edit]

As the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for domestic finance from 1999-2001, the last two years of the Clinton administration, Gensler was overseeing policies of U.S. financial markets, debt management, financial services, and community development. Gensler advocated the passage of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which exempted credit default swaps and other derivatives from regulation.

Senior Adviser to Sarbanes[edit]

He was a Senior Adviser to U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), one of the authors of legislation that eventually became the Sarbanes-Oxley Act 2002, designed to bring greater oversight to the accounting industry and reform of corporate governance.

Obama administration[edit]

Gensler was a senior economic adviser to the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, 2008 and, after the Democratic Primary, the Obama campaign. He reviewed the Securities and Exchange Commission for the Obama transition team.[2] Obama appointed Gensler to become Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. During the Senate confirmation hearings two senators attempted to block his nomination. In March 2009, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)opposed Gensler, because he “had worked with Sen. Phil Gramm and Alan Greenspan to exempt credit default swaps from regulation, which led to the collapse of AIG and has resulted in the largest taxpayer bailout in US history.” Sanders also accused Gensler of working to deregulate electronic energy trading, which led to the downfall of Enron, and of supporting the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, which allowed American banks to become “too big to fail.”[16]

In early November, 2011, Gensler stepped aside from the CFTC's investigation of the giant derivatives broker MF Global because of his ties to Jon Corzine, CEO of MF Global, for whom he had worked while both were at Goldman Sachs. Yet in late November, 2011, Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), head of the House Financial Services oversight subcommittee investigating MF Gloabal's collapse, noted that Corzine personally lobbied Gensler and his staff that year in opposition to a possible CFTC rule, that would have affected MF Global. Neugebauer asked Gensler why he didn't remove himself earlier from MF Global matters, so Corzine wouldn't have been able to lobby him.[17][18]

After the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act took effect in 2010, dozens of new CFTC rules were written under Gensler as the reach of the CFTC enlarged, including the $35 trillion futures business and the opaque $400 trillion swaps market.[19] Gensler chose David Meister as enforcement chief, who filed a record number of cases against Wall Street's biggest banks, including UBS and Barclays effecting hundreds of millions of dollars in fines (see Libor) which was unheard of from an agency nicknamed a watchdog that didn't bark.[20] In 2013 Gensler refused to budge on a July deadline to produce plans for extending Dodd-Frank rules to trading overseas. He left the CFTC in December 2013.

Personal life[edit]

In 1986, he married Francesca Danieli, a filmmaker and photo collagist, with whom he had three daughters: Anna, Lee, and Isabel. His wife died of breast cancer in June 2006.[21] He is a nine-time marathon runner, climbed Mount Rainier during his C.F.T.C. tenure, and currently lives in Baltimore, MD. Gensler is Jewish.[22]


  1. ^ "Gary Gensler". Times Topics. New York Times. April 7, 2010. Retrieved 2012-03-05. 
  2. ^ a b "Gary Gensler: A U-Boat Sent into the CFTC?". The truth about the MF Global Bankruptcy. December 3, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-05. 
  3. ^ "Gary Gensler: Executive Profile & Biography". Businessweek. Retrieved 2012-03-05. 
  4. ^ Committee on Finance, United States Senate (January 20, 1999). Nominations of Susan G. Esserman, Timoth F. Geithner, Gary S. Gensler, Edwin M. Truman, and David C. Williams (pdf). Hearing (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office). ISBN 0-16-058401-9. S. Hrg 106-11. Retrieved 2013-09-11.  One hundred sixth Congress, First session
  5. ^ "Danieli, Francesca". Baltimore Sun. June 29, 2006. Retrieved 2012-03-05. "on Tuesday, June 27, 2006, FRANCESCA DANIELI (nee Costagliola). Beloved Wife of Gary Gensler of Brooklandville, Maryland. Beloved and Cherished Mother of Anna, Lee & Isabel of Brooklandville, MD. Loving Sister of Marisa Costagliola of Columbia, MD., Antonia Burns-Cambridge, MD and Rose Rubin of Falls Church, Virginia. Beloved Daughter of Francesco Costagliola-(Capt. Retired) and the late Agnes Costagliola" 
  6. ^ "Francesca Danieli, 52, collage artist". Baltimore Sun. July 5, 2006. Retrieved 2012-03-05. 
  7. ^ "Gensler Said to Be Obama’s Choice for Commodity Panel". Bloomberg. December 17, 2008. Retrieved 2013-09-11. 
  8. ^ "World stock market capitalization closes year at $54.6 trillion". Retrieved 2013-09-11. 
  9. ^ "Decision-Matter of: Commodity Futures Trading Commission" (pdf). Controller General of the United States. February 11, 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-11. 
  10. ^ "Terms of Office". U.S Commodity Futures Trading Commission. February 11, 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-11. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Regulator of Wall Street Loses Its Hard-Charging Chairman.New York Times. 3 Jan 2014
  13. ^ Wiseman, Paul (2009-11-23). "CFTC chief Gary Gensler is out to police financial Wild West". Usatoday.Com. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  14. ^ "Gary Gensler". The Washington Post. 2012-07-19. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  15. ^ "Obama Nominates Gary Gensler To Head CFTC(link dead)". Dow Jones via December 26, 2008. 
  16. ^ "Senator Sanders Blocking Key Obama Nomination". Harpers. March 23, 2009. 
  17. ^ "Randy Neugebauer". Associated Press. Retrieved 2011-11-30. [dead link]
  18. ^ Doering, Christopher (November 29, 2011). "Lawmaker presses CFTC on MF Global collapse". Reuters. Retrieved 2012-03-05. 
  19. ^ Regulator of Wall Street Loses Its Hard-Charging Chairman. New York Times. 3 Jan 2014
  20. ^ Regulator of Wall Street Loses Its Hard-Charging Chairman. New York Times. Friday, 3 Jan 2014
  21. ^ Washington Post: "Filmmaker and Honored Photo Collagist Francesca Danieli, 52" By Patricia Sullivan July 2, 2006.
  22. ^ "Barack Obama Administration: Jews in the Administration". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 28 September 2013. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Walter Lukken
Chairperson of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Succeeded by
Mark Wetjen