On September 14, 2021, SEC Chairman Gary Gensler gave testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs highlighting the priorities of the SEC under his rule. After giving the obligatory opening statements on the size and impact of the U.S. capital markets, Gensler broke down the SEC agenda into four topics including market structure, predictive data analytics, issuers and issuer disclosure and funds and investment management.
Chair Gensler began his speech market structure by talking about the U.S. Treasury Market, which I found interesting mainly because I do not recall any speech or testimony by recent SEC chairpersons that focused on the topic (albeit I haven’t read them all, but I’ve read a lot!). During Covid, the Treasury Market suffered from liquidity issues prompting the SEC to consider rule and process changes, including those related to clearing, that could make the Treasury Markets more resilient and competitive. The SEC is also considering Treasury trading
On May 6, 2021, new SEC Chair Gary Gensler made his debut, giving testimony to the House Financial Services Committee. Although Mr. Gensler is not new to regulatory leadership – he was head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) – and as such, his style is certainly not new to capital markets participants, the testimony was nonetheless very enlightening of the mindset of the new SEC regime. The purpose of the testimony was particularly related to the market volatility in January, including GameStop and AMC, and reactions to that trading frenzy including Robinhood’s temporary trading restrictions, but over four hours, touched on much more.
From thirty thousand feet, Gensler attributes the January volatility to an intersection of finance and technology. On a more granular level, he highlights: (i) gamification and user experience; (ii) payment for order flow; (iii) equity market structure; (iv) short selling and market transparency; (v) social media; (vi) market plumbing – i.e., clearance and settlement; and