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Common Dreams

Obama Cans Regulator Who Crossed Wall Street

Ouster is a gain for big bankers advocating lax oversight

by
Sarah Lazare, staff writer

Photo via Flickr/Diane Miller/Creative Commons License

The Obama Administration is quietly firing Commodity Futures Trading Commission head Gary Gensler, who ran afoul of big banks by pushing for greater government oversight.

The ouster comes in the midst of controversy over a proposed CFTF rule, strongly supported by Gensler, that would extend U.S. regulation to swaps--a kind of derivative exhange--involving firms founded or doing business in the United States. This means that foreign banks and hedge funds would face the same regulations as U.S. ones when trading in swaps with U.S. parties.

Wall Street fiercely opposes this regulation on the grounds that it discourages trade. Yet, supporters insist the regulation is necessary to give a modicum of oversight to vast swaths of the derivatives market marred by the same lack of regulation that paved the way for the 2008 economic collapse.

Gensler was set to meet with European regulators June 20, and his dismissal could seriously jeopardize this proposal, the Huffington Post reports.

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This is not the first time Gensler has clashed openly with bankers. The Huffington Post describes his tenure:

A former Goldman Sachs executive who was viewed skeptically by some liberal lawmakers when he was first nominated in 2009, Gensler has become perhaps Wall Street’s leading foe as he has sought to curb risk and expand transparency and competition in the previously opaque market for a type of derivatives known as swaps.

Gensler has transformed a once-unknown agency to one at the forefront of financial regulation as CFTC rules are shaking up a marketplace unaccustomed to government supervision. His rules threaten to decrease profits at the nation’s largest banks as formerly unregulated activities are forced to comply with provisions that help buyers compare prices and compel banks to stump up more cash to back their trades.

Gensler will be replaced by former senate staffer Amanda Renteria, who worked briefly for Goldman Sachs and has little financial oversight experience.

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