By Landon Manning
Gary Gensler, an American public official and professor of economics who has made pro-Bitcoin comments in the past, has now found himself tapped to lead the transition team for financial policy under President Elect Joe Biden.
With experience as a long-term veteran of various government institutions in addition to his academic bona fides, Gensler has served as chairman of the Commodity Future Trading Commission (CFTC) under President Obama, as well as various other roles such as Undersecretary of the Treasury for Domestic Finance and additional financial offices during the Clinton administration. A Democratic party surrogate, Gensler also served as the chief financial officer for Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 presidential campaign.
It was confirmed on November 10, 2020, that Gensler would be taking up this role under the new Biden administration’s transition team, although it is unclear what exactly his long-term position will be in the new government. What also is unclear is Gensler’s exact stance toward the revolutionary economic potential of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, though he has made several favorable remarks about it in the past. At a Congressional hearing in 2018, he cautioned against being too quick to impose chafing restrictions on the crypto ecosystem, and claimed in 2019 that Facebook’s proposed libra digital currency should be treated as a security.
He also wrote an op-ed for a digital cryptocurrency publication in 2019, claiming that crypto will serve as a “change catalyst” no matter how many short-lived crypto assets rise and fall. He claimed that it is self-evident that “Regardless of cryptocurrency viability, we already live in an age of digital money,” and that Bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator Satoshi Nakamoto definitively “solved the payments riddle, how to securely move value peer-2-peer on the internet while avoiding double-spending.”
And while Gensler appears supportive of cryptocurrencies, he may be harsh on the legacy financial system. Bloomberg’s coverage included several weathervanes on the finance world’s opinion of him, with quotes such as: “Executives, lobbyists worried Gary Gensler might get job,” calling him “the scourge of Wall Street,” claiming that he “is known for his hard-charging leadership style” and several other jabs indicating a high degree of nervousness on traditional financiers’ part. Although there have been many attempts to bridge the worlds of crypto with previous, traditional assets, by and large it is safe to say that the big banks have been no friend to Bitcoin, over the years.
If Gensler continues to live up to this reputation, perhaps he will continue to show affinity toward cryptocurrency as well. Much is uncertain about the tenor that economic policy will take in the post-Trump world, but there is reason to believe that, wherever the government will go, Bitcoin might just have a friend at the highest levels.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.