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Is Gary Gensler still worth the crypto market’s expectations?
1970-01-01 08:00 Update

Nowadays, in any community related to the encryption market, the then SEC (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) is discussed When Chairman Gary Gensler was appointed, he most likely received comments filled with fear and disgust, as well as a large number of memes about how he "looks like securities".

Gary Gensler 证券梗图
Such as this

Suing Binance, suing Coinbase, claiming that "cryptocurrencies are securities that require unified supervision" and so on are becoming increasingly common Frequent and stringent regulatory actions seem to have made Gensler's image extremely evil.

However, just three or four years ago, he was a loyal fan of cryptocurrency that was obvious to all. Not only has he publicly stated: "More than 70% of the current cryptocurrencies in the market are not securities," he has also served as a professor in universities and actively preached about blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.

What is the reason for this inconsistent attitude? Is Gary Gensler a double-dealer who backstabs the crypto market, or does he just "love the crypto market deeply"?

The youngest Goldman Sachs partner

In October 1957, in Baltimore, a port city in the eastern United States, Gary Gensler was born into a working-class Jewish family. family. Gensler's father made a living supplying cigarettes and pinball machines to local bars, and the young Gensler was first exposed to the real side of "finance" while earning pocket money by helping count coins in the machines.

Pinball (Source: Los Angeles Times)

Gensler excelled academically from an early age. He graduated from high school in 1975 and later received the school's Distinguished Alumni Award. After three years at the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Gensler earned a degree in economics, summa cum laude, and an MBA the following year.

In 1979, Gensler left campus and joined Goldman Sachs, where he continued to work for 18 years. During those 18 years, he ran mergers and acquisitions, advised media companies, and was head of fixed income and foreign exchange trading. Due to his wide range of capabilities, Gary Gensler was once called "the top think tank type figure in the financial field."

At age 30, Gary Gensler became one of the youngest partners at Goldman Sachs.

It is worth mentioning during this period that according to records of the New York Times, in 1990, Gensler served as a team leader and provided consulting services to the National Football League (NFL) to help it with Five television platforms reached a deal for the rights to broadcast the 1994 football games for a total value of $3.6 billion. This was the most profitable deal in the history of television media at the time.

This work experience at Goldman Sachs not only made Gensler famous on Wall Street, but also helped him enter politics in the future.

In 1993, Goldman Sachs CEO Robert Rubin joined the Clinton administration and became U.S. Treasury Secretary two years later. In 1997, Gensler, who had just entered his 40s, followed his former boss and joined the Treasury Department as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, officially launching his political career.

Early career in politics

In 2001, Gensler became a staff member of Paul Sarbanes, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, serving as a senior advisor and helped draft the SOX Act. (Sarbanes-Oxley Act)", which was introduced after the scandals of Enron and WorldCom's bankruptcy due to financial fraud were exposed, and aimed to tighten the corresponding accounting standards.

The Enron bankruptcy is a landmark event in financial history. At the end of 2001, Enron, once one of the world's largest energy trading companies, was exposed for a series of illegal activities such as false accounting records, hiding huge debts, and market manipulation. In the end, it not only went bankrupt itself, but also led to the disintegration of Arthur Andersen Accounting Firm. The "Big Five" become the "Big Four". The Enron incident was both the largest bankruptcy case and the largest auditing failure in U.S. history.

After Obama was successfully elected as President of the United States in 2008, Gensler served as Chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) from 2009 to 2014. Faced with the mess left by the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis, Gensler's appointment was somewhat of a last-minute appointment. During his tenure at the CFTC, he successfully promoted the implementation of new regulations on derivatives supervision in the United States through close cooperation with the Obama administration, the U.S. Congress and other regulatory agencies, and made outstanding contributions to the financial regulatory system.

Gensler also served as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. But then the Democratic Party lost and Republican Trump was elected as the new US president. Gensler, the "former minister", was temporarily lonely and entered a short "dormant period" - which was also his "honeymoon period" with the encryption market.

The honeymoon period with the crypto market

Although for most crypto market users, it will not be until 2021 when Gensler becomes SEC Chairman and launches various regulatory measures on the crypto market Later, they became familiar with this person. But in fact, Gensler’s bond with the crypto market began much earlier than he took office at the SEC. Even before he became the “public enemy of the market” he is today, he had a period of harmonious coexistence with the crypto market that could be called a honeymoon.

MIT sermon

2017 was the year when the encryption market exploded. Various ICOs emerged one after another, and "hundred times coins" also emerged in large numbers. The price of Bitcoin dropped from several hundred at the beginning of the year. The block has been rising all the way, reaching a maximum of $19,000. The booming market atmosphere and emerging financial technologies that continue to prove their practical value have caused many scholars and financial practitioners to gradually turn their attention to the blockchain field - Gensler is no exception.

In early 2018, Gensler officially entered MIT as a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a senior advisor for the digital currency program of the MIT Media Lab. During his tenure at the school, he conducted research and taught on topics such as blockchain technology, digital currency, financial technology and public policy.

In the public course "Blockchain and Money" recorded by MIT in the fall of 2018, Gensler, as a lecturer, systematically interpreted the blockchain ecosystem. Because of Gensler's thorough understanding of blockchain technology and his easy-to-understand teaching methods, this course is very popular among students. In addition to the official website of MIT's open courses, the course has also been uploaded to YouTube. The first course has been viewed nearly 7 million times, and the comment area is full of praise for the course itself and Gensler himself.

MIT 公开课程官网
MIT Open Course Official Website

Based on student nominations in the 2018-19 academic year, he won the MIT Sloan School of Management that year. "Outstanding Teacher Award".

Highly recognized and active participation

Gensler, who is in the honeymoon period with the encryption market, not only actively preaches about blockchain technology in class, but also often publicly expresses his support for the encryption economy on other occasions. Confidence and encouragement for some projects.

At the New York Fintech Conference in April 2019, Gensler expressed his praise for Algorand and Silvio Micali, the project’s lead developer. He spoke highly of Algorand's project, calling it "a brilliant technology" and believed that the efficiency of the blockchain is very high - it is worth mentioning here that Algorand until late June 2019 - that is, Gensler Two months after the speech - it was officially launched. This also means that Gensler already had a relatively deep "personal relationship" with the encryption market at that time.

Gensler also maintains close relationships with many of the top players in the crypto market. For example, according to a lawyer for Binance, Gensler dined with CZ in Japan in 2019 and offered to become an advisor to Binance — a claim that Gensler himself has not yet refuted.

The person who has the deepest friendship with him (and is currently regarded as one of Gensler’s stains) is SBF, the founder of FTX. Gensler’s relationship with FTX, or SBF, can be said to be constantly cut and messed up: the father of SBF’s ex-girlfriend and partner was Gensler’s boss during his tenure at MIT. At the same time, according to information disclosed by members of the U.S. Congress, many members of Gensler’s past staff team joined the FTX team after Gensler left the political stage for a while.

SBF himself has been accused of being overly involved in politics, and there are even rumors that he is "laundering money for the Democratic Party." For more related information, please refer to: Who is SBF - from luxury yachts to silver bracelets and iron fences

Elon Musk also tweeted about this matter Special Gossip

In 2020, Gensler completed his final course at MIT on blockchain and crypto markets.

In the past three years of his time in academia, Gensler’s active participation and thorough understanding have earned him a good reputation in the encryption community, and has also allowed many participants in the encryption market to regard him as forward-looking. The maintainers of order even regard him as a good friend of the encryption market and look forward to him bringing new and effective management regulations to the encryption market. It is precisely because of this that many people, including Congress, believe that if Gensler can return to the political stage, it will be a major benefit to the encryption market regulatory system.

Backstabbing from the SEC Chairman

With Biden taking office, Gensler's political career was able to score twice. He was dismissed in April 2021. Appointed Chairman of the SEC for a five-year term until 2026. The crypto community is cheering for a regulator with a comprehensive understanding of financial markets, crypto markets, and digital technologies. At the same time, Congress and regulatory agencies have also shown a very positive and optimistic attitude towards this, because they all believe that Gensler will bring clearer and more accurate operating rules to the market. Jeff Bandman, a former senior official of the U.S. CFTC, has publicly expressed his support and expectations for Gensler. He believes that Gensler will vigorously promote supervision and innovation in the encryption industry, and said that "this will undoubtedly shake up the entire industry."

At the beginning of his tenure, Gensler publicly stated that as the top regulatory agency on Wall Street, the SEC would formulate a set of rules as soon as possible to supervise the cryptocurrency market that lacks good rule guidance while balancing the interests of American innovators.

Gensler 曾表示将引导“绿色加密市场”,并积极在推特上造势
Gensler once said that he would lead the "green encryption market" and actively built momentum on Twitter

However, gradually, These innovators found that the actions of the SEC chairman seemed to be inconsistent with everyone's previous expectations, and even launched a series of attacks on the encryption market, triggering boos in the market. So, what “big things” has Gary Gensler done?

The ambiguous definition of securities

To elaborate on this "ambiguity", we have to push the timeline forward a little bit.

In April 2018, Gensler, who was about to join MIT at the time, answered such a question at a blockchain-themed forum: Are cryptocurrencies securities or commodities? His answer at the time was this - "It's all. I know a lot of people don't want to hear this answer, but this is where we are now." Also in this forum, Gensler said “Bitcoin is not a security, but Ethereum and Ripple are hard to say”.

In a recently released video, Gensler gave a speech on crypto market policies and other topics at a crypto market theme forum held at Bloomberg headquarters in October 2018. This time, he made it clear in his speech that “Including Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH), cryptocurrencies that exceed 70% of the market share Money is not a security”.

After taking office as SEC Chairman, Gensler began to take a tougher stance on the question of whether cryptocurrencies are securities. He began to publicly state again and again that the encryption market needs to be more regulated because it is a "Wild West full of fraud." In September 2022, he once again came to the novel conclusion that "the vast majority of cryptocurrencies on the market are securities".

What’s interesting is that Gensler, the blockchain evangelist back then, and today’s SEC Chairman,although they made different conclusions, were all based on the same standard——Howey Test (Howey Test).

To put it simply, the Howey test essentially determines "whether a transaction complies with the definitional framework of an investment contract (Investment Contract)", thereby further determining "whether the underlying asset of this transaction "for securities". A business activity that qualifies as a securities transaction must meet four conditions:

  • Capital investment exists: Participants invest money, property, or other things of value into a business or entity.
  • Having a common entity: Investors invest money in a business or entity with common interests and expect to rely on the management, efforts or strength of others to obtain returns.
  • Expected Profit: Investors expect profits from the efforts of the business or entity.
  • Reliance on the Efforts of Others: Expected profits are dependent on the efforts, experience, and skills of others (usually the management of the business or entity) rather than on the investor's own efforts.

Gensler believes that just as securities circulating in the U.S. market are regulated by the SEC, "cryptocurrencies with the nature of securities" should also be regulated by the SEC; and in judging In terms of standards, the Howey Test is a clear and accurate method that can determine whether a certain cryptocurrency asset is a security.

So, Gary Gensler’s answer to the same question, the latest version is: In the existing crypto market, except for Bitcoin, the rest are unregistered securities, they do not Necessary disclosure or market supervision must be achieved, and investors purchase tokens for expected profits. As for Ethereum, Gensler currently refuses to give a clear response.

Not to mention whether the Howey test, which was born in 1946 and has broad interpretation possibilities, can still be applied to today’s emerging encryption market. Gensler’s ever-changing and inconsistent attitude is really very disturbing. It’s hard not to make market users confused and disappointed.

Gary Gensler 发言内容节取
Excerpt from Gary Gensler’s speech in April 2023

Throw all the blame to the encryption market

In March 2023, many banks including Silvergate and Signature collapsed one after another. At a hearing, regarding the reasons for the crisis, Gensler said meaningfully: "They are all related to crypto market relations and are called crypto-friendly banks - this is quite interesting." The implication is that the crypto market is the culprit that caused all of this to happen.

However, at the same hearing, some lawmakers also questioned Gensler’s attribution theory, which was wrong. At least for Signature, the run pressure it faced at the time mainly came from a wide range of depositor customers, including large food suppliers, trust accounts, law firms, etc., and the outflow of cryptocurrency deposits only accounted for a part of it. Quantitatively speaking, it is far from being the level that should be blamed for the entire incident.

Prosecuting the leading cryptocurrency exchanges

In June 2023, the SEC sued two centralized exchanges, Binance and Coinbase.

On June 5, in a 136-page indictment against Binance, founder CZ and Binance, two US entities, the SEC accused the above defendants of "violating federal securities trading rules", including but not limited to: Ignoring federal securities laws and amassing billions of dollars in wealth; U.S. entities are under the actual control of CZ, and CZ himself has made huge profits; Binance illegally provided services including exchanges, broker-dealers and Securities market functions including clearing agencies; illegally engaging in the issuance and sale of unregistered crypto asset securities.

On June 6, the day after filing a lawsuit against Binance, the SEC once again sued Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States, for violating federal securities laws. Except for the founder, the accusations against Coinbase are similar to those against Binance.

In just two days, the SEC launched attacks on two top cryptocurrency exchanges. The crypto market was immediately under tremendous pressure, and the calls to protest against the SEC became louder and louder.

Gary Gensler himself later accepted a TV interview with Bloomberg. He said that these cryptocurrency exchanges are "casino operators who compete against users" and the SEC does not believe that they can protect the interests of investors. , so he extended his iron fist of justice.

Remember, as mentioned earlier, Gensler also had some friendship with CZ and had friendly discussions on blockchain technology. The current situation obviously not only chills the encryption market, but also makes many market participants feel chilly. For example, Kenny, the co-founder of Manta Network, said on Twitter after the SEC sued Binance that seeing Gary Gensler and CZ, who once guided him on the path of cryptocurrency, now turn against each other, "It's like seeing It’s as sad as when one’s own parents quarrel.” (Of course, someone in the comment area also reminded that it might be more appropriate to express it as "brothers are fighting against each other.")

Kenny 的推特截图
Screenshot of Kenny's Twitter

Gary Gensler His Person

People are three-dimensional and complex. In addition to the registered life mentioned above, there are actually many anecdotes about Gary Gensler that are worth talking about. These can also allow us to put aside his status as SEC Chairman from the perspective of "getting to know a person" and further Understand what kind of person he is and what kind of logic he has. We might as well take a closer look through the following sections.

Believe in Bitcoin fundamentalism

While teaching at MIT, Gensler has repeatedly declared himself a "Bitcoin fundamentalist." Objectively speaking, this self-positioning is relatively accurate. Because as far as Bitcoin is concerned, Gary Gensler's attitude has indeed never changed, and even now he has not classified it as a security.

There are some BTC fundamentalists in the cryptocurrency market who believe in Bitcoin just like some people in the traditional market believe in gold. For this group of investors, Bitcoin is "the only valuable cryptocurrency", and therefore, they not only use Bitcoin as a means of payment, but also as a means of storage, that is, the accumulation of value.

Gensler is not shy about showing his affirmation of Bitcoin and blockchain technology. He believes that the blockchain revolution launched by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 is not just a trend, but the real value proposition of the future of the Internet.

Good at character creation

Gensler has always been good at shaping his own image. After he took office as SEC Chairman, he released the "Office Hours with Gary Gensler" series of videos on Youtube, dedicated to building personal IP by sharing financial knowledge and office routines.

And his project of shaping his personal image has been going on for a long time.

Gary Gensler, who was still serving as Chairman of the CFTC in 2012, is undoubtedly proud of his success in promoting the implementation of new regulations and rectifying the market. This not only adds a highlight to his political record, but also makes him a strong supervisor. The image of the author is deeply rooted in people's hearts.

In a column titled "Gary Gensler: Financial Police" published by Time Magazine that year, Gensler showed an affable image stripped of political filters. The article mentioned that Gensler was raising three daughters alone after his wife of 20 years died of illness. Who would have thought that the CFTC chairman, who was feared in the financial market, would be a joker after returning to his family? , a loving father with a gentle personality, who often even washes the children's dirty clothes after returning home.

The article also mentioned that his thunderous tactics against the financial market made him "many enemies and few friends." Some professionals (the article did not specify who they were) also believed that with Gensler's ability, he should Sitting in a higher position (such as SEC Chairman or something?), and faced with such remarks, Gensler just said modestly: It is an honor to be able to complete the current job.

The capital market may hate an iron-fisted regulator, but people's hearts will unconsciously favor a central banker who has to "offend" Wall Street bosses because of his duties and who has unlimited care for his family life. Years of being a single dad, aren’t you?

A master of utilitarian attention control

In business, he talks about business, and in politics, he talks about politics.

Rather than using gentle guidance for the healthy development of the encryption market, the SEC Chairman is of course more concerned about whether the regulatory mechanism can really affect the market under his leadership (or during his tenure). Go to the crypto market and get visible results.

Objectively speaking, compared with the complexity and universality of traditional finance, the encryption market, which is still in its infancy, cannot cause much attention. So, how can we get more people to notice the SEC’s determination to regulate the crypto market? Gensler also made the same choice as the answer we first thought of: Buy traffic.

In October 2022, the SEC charged Kim Kardashian with illegally promoting cryptocurrency on social media, accusing her of promoting and selling offers and sales by Ethereum Max without disclosing that she received money. “Cryptoasset Securities”. Kardashian eventually agreed to settle, paying a $1.26 million fine and cooperating with the committee's investigation.

金·卡戴珊在自己的 Instagram 账号中的宣传
Kim Kardashian’s promotion on her Instagram account

Whether it is in terms of the severity or the size of the money involved Look, this is not a big deal, and it doesn't seem worth the SEC's trouble. However, relying on the traffic of North America's No. 1 Internet celebrity, SEC "broke the circle" in one fell swoop and successfully attracted the attention of the market and public opinion.

Additionally, the battle for attention between Gensler and Congress is fierce. While Congress looks to focus on the legislative framework for the crypto market, Gensler always seems to be trying to shift the focus to himself and his agency. Last month, an article published in the Crypto section of Fortune magazine detailed how the SEC led by Gary Gensler competed with Congress at every precise point in time - in 2023 alone, such a thing It happened at least six times.

Fortune 整理的时间线
The battle for attention between Congress and the SEC

According to the article, the most obvious one is the SEC’s lawsuit against Coinbase. In early June this year, the U.S. House of Representatives was preparing to hold a hearing to discuss current regulatory issues in the encryption market. However, on the morning of the hearing, the SEC announced it was suing Coinbase. As we mentioned in the previous article, the SEC's successive prosecutions of Binance and Coinbase within two days brought the SEC to the forefront of public opinion - but no one paid attention to the congressional hearing and the regulatory issues discussed in the hearing.

Repeated delays in regulatory issues are not a good thing for the crypto market, but not necessarily for Gary Gensler himself. For example, two members of Congress recently stated that they believe that the SEC led by Gensler is currently more interested in enforcing laws and establishing its authority everywhere than legislating. But regardless of his true motivation, Gensler is indeed a master of attention manipulation and always knows how to keep the spotlight focused on himself.

A devious tactician

Perhaps the SEC’s current approach of “seeing everything as a security and wanting to regulate everything” is just an act?

Someone once raised a conjecture: Gary Gensler seems to be using a method called the "anchoring effect" to conduct roundabout negotiations in an attempt to achieve his ultimate goal. Anchoring Effect is a psychological term. Its essence is to create cognitive biases. Simply put, it is to achieve the final balance through early overcorrection. It can also be understood as giving a slap in the face and then giving a sweet date.

Think about how Gensler, who had been frustrated in politics, gained support by settling in academia. It's hard to say he doesn't understand this.

If viewed from this perspective, Gensler's current behavior seems easy to understand. As a veteran in politics, he must know better than the market how to win the final victory in the game with Congress. Therefore, the current tough and outrageous stance seems to be leaving more room for discussion on the future regulatory framework, and by then, perhaps the crypto market will be grateful for the sweet dates he gave.

Worker Edition Anchoring Effect

What can we expect from Gary Gensler? What

First of all, we need to make it clear that the development of the encryption market in the past few years, both in terms of market size and industry paradigm, has been rapid and complex. Compared with the traditional financial market that the SEC specializes in, the development cycle of the encryption market is shorter, and it is more difficult to accurately clarify regulatory ideas in the short term - even on the issue of "whether the encryption market now has the SEC's turn to take action", there is currently no There are still differing opinions.

After Gary Gensler took over as SEC Chairman, many big events did occur in the crypto market, such as the collapse of Luna and UST in 2022, and the subsequent bankruptcy of FTX. Within a year, millions of investors were affected, and assets originally worth nearly 100 billion US dollars evaporated instantly. Prior to this, U.S. regulatory agencies had turned a blind eye to the crypto market, which also meant that in terms of regulatory ideas, there was no ready-made template for the SEC to follow suit.His vacillation The uncertainty is excusable.

However, in addition to the chaotic current situation of the market, more reasons for the antagonism between the SEC and the encryption market come from interests. As the saying goes, the butt determines the head. Even though Gensler is only playing roundabout tactics at the moment, in the final analysis, he wants to continue to maintain the hegemony of the US dollar. This is not difficult to understand. After all, no one wants their iron rice bowl to be smashed. What's more, the SEC may just be a springboard for Gensler to the next higher position. Showing weakness at this time is obviously not in his personal interests.

At present, Congress also has negative opinions on Gensler's arbitrary measures. Last month, U.S. Congressman Warren Davidson introduced the "SEC Stabilization Act", publicly attacking and demanding the removal of SEC Chairman Gary Gensler.

So now, for Gary Gensler, there are only two results we can expect: give Tianzao a quick slap after this slap, or give up quickly.

At the same time, however, we should also ask ourselves this question: Even without Gary Gensler, the normalization of the crypto market is an inevitable trend. Of course we look forward to an encrypted market with clear rules of the game, but we also reject the same heavy shackles as the traditional financial market. This is definitely a complex subject for regulatory authorities - then, if someone else is responsible for this matter, really Can you do better than him?