Wall Street's top cop can't get be confirmed fast enough as the financial markets continue to get jolted by heavy trading in shorted stocks including GameStop.
Gary Gensler, President Biden's pick to head the Securities and Exchange Commission, is set for a confirmation hearing on March 2 before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, according to a Friday announcement.
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Gensler, if confirmed, will take the reigns at the SEC at a time when questions swirl around whether individual investors are being hurt by extreme trading in heavily shorted stocks, in part, driven by the Reddit community and social media.
He is expected to focus on tougher regulation, just as he did when he ran the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. More recently Gensler has been teaching at MIT.
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This week alone, GameStop shares have gained over 142% in choppy trading. On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked again about the situation.
"As you know, the SEC has oversight….and certainly has been watching it closely, monitoring it closely. The Treasury Secretary also convened a meeting just a few weeks ago, but I would certainly send you to them on what their plans are for monitoring engagement or speaking to it…" she said.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen convened a meeting earlier this month with officials from the SEC, CFTC and others, as heightened concerns over swings in the market related to GameStop and other shorted stocks grabbed headlines on both Wall Street and Main Street.
"They discussed market functionality and recent trading practices in equity, commodity and related markets. The regulators believe the core infrastructure was resilient during high volatility and heavy trading volume and agree on the importance of the SEC releasing a timely study of the events. Further, the SEC and CFTC are reviewing whether trading practices are consistent with investor protection and fair and efficient markets" said Yellen in a statement following the meeting.
The frenzy continues. Earlier in the week, GameStop disclosed CFO Jim Bell is set to depart, raising speculation as to why.
Some reports suggest he was pushed out by the company's largest individual shareholder, Ryan Cohen, who is also the founder of Chewy.com He tweeted an image of an ice cream cone with a frog earlier this week, which some took as a sign that troubled GameStop will see better days.
Elsewhere, FOX Business reported the practice of short-selling may come under scrutiny prompting noted short-seller Jim Chanos to step up his lobbying efforts in Washington to preserve the investment vehicle.
This comes after Congressional hearings last week highlighted the complexities of financial markets, hedge funds and retail traders all in the mix.
Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev, hedge fund CEO Ken Griffin of Citadel and Reddit CEO Steve Huffman got grilled by lawmakers over the trading frenzy.