Biden SEC pick Gary Gensler on fintech, regulation, and blockchain

President Joe Biden announced Jan. 18 he will nominate MIT Sloan professor Gary Gensler to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission. Gensler joined the MIT Sloan faculty in 2018. He previously led the Commodity Futures Trading Commission under the Obama administration.

In his time at MIT, Gensler’s teaching and research has focused on blockchain technology, digital currencies, financial technology, and public policy. Below are a selection of ideas and insights from Gensler, including a recent working paper on deep learning and financial stability, and two free MIT OpenCourseWare classes he developed.

In a November 2020 working paper co-authored with research assistant Lily Bailey, Gensler explains how deep learning “may lead to financial system fragility and economy-wide risks.” Gensler and Bailey argue that current risk management tools are insufficient and propose “policy tools that might mitigate these systemic risks.”

In April 2019, Gensler and Wall Street veteran Richard Berner discussed trends they were watching closely in finance: monetizing data, the future of brick-and-mortar banks, and fintech regulation (or the lack of it).

Is a cryptotoken an investment? Or is it a commodity? “It’s both,” Gensler said in May 2018. “I know that’s not an answer that a lot of people like, but that’s kind of where we are right now.”

Joining a December 2019 panel of policy experts, Gensler commented on what banks will look like in 10 to 20 years and how Big Tech was pulling ahead of big banks in China.

Shortly after joining MIT Sloan, Gensler in July 2018 previewed his first class, which explored the foundations of blockchain and its practical application in the finance sector. The class is available free from MIT OpenCourseWare.

In an October 2019 piece about blockchain’s future with supply chains, Gensler shared six questions all leaders should ask about what the technology can and can’t do for their business.

Free courses on fintech and blockchain

Two courses by Gensler are available free through MIT OpenCourseWare. Fintech: Shaping the Financial World was taught in the Spring 2020 semester. And Blockchain and Money was taught in 2018. The courses include video lectures, assignments, reading lists, additional insights from Gensler, and more.