Out with the old administration and in with a new wave of US financial regulators. This week saw two high-profile changes at the helm of two of the country’s most powerful regulators.
In a move that had been expected for a while, Democrat Timothy Massad announced he would step down from his role at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) on January 20 - the same day Donald Trump is sworn in as the new US president. Massad has been credited with tightening regulation and oversight in the financial markets notably by pushing for the widespread implementation of Dodd-Frank in the areas of derivatives and clearing.
His departure leaves the space wide open for Trump to usher in a Republican supporter - Christopher Giancarlo, one of the CFTC’s two remaining commissioners, and the only Republican, is expected to step up.
His possible addition to Trump’s fast-growing team is the latest in a series of high-profile appointments of industry executives and GOP supporters to senior government roles. These include former ExxonMobil chair Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, and former Goldman Sachs executives Steven Mnuchin as Secretary of the Treasury, Gary Cohn as head of the White House National Economic Council, and Steve Bannon as chief strategist.
Staying in Wall Street, Trump also chose this week Jay Clayton, another Goldman Sachs alum, as his nominee for the role of chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Clayton is a New York-based M&A partner at Sullivan & Cromwell, and counts Barclays Capital, Bear Stearns and Goldman Sachs as clients. He replaces Mary Jo White in the role – the former lawyer and US attorney for the southern district of New York announced in November 2016 she would leave the position at the end of the Obama administration.
In a statement announcing Clayton’s nomination, Trump hinted that he would work towards lightening the SEC’s regulatory touch.
Democrat senator Sherrod Brown said of the appointment: “It's hard to see how an attorney who spent his career helping Wall Street beat the rap will keep President-elect Trump's promise to stop big banks and hedge funds from ‘getting away with murder’”.
Two other significant roles have yet to see any changes announced. Thomas Curry, the head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, has six months left on his term, while Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen has said she would not step down until the end of her term, in January 2018.
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