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What to Expect from Gary Gensler’s Testimony

The S.E.C. chair Gary Gensler will testify before the Senate Banking Committee today, after five months on the job. Since his confirmation, his public statements have generated much debate, many headlines and more than a few market movements. This morning, based on his prepared remarks, he’ll make the case for additional resources to achieve a more expansive agenda than many of his predecessors at the commission.

Here’s what to expect on some hot-button issues:

Gensler wants to “freshen up” the rules. To promote efficiency and competition, he’s considering structural issues, like whether there is too much concentration among market makers, and conflicts of interest, like those arising from payment for order flow. Speeding up transaction settlements, which now take about two business days, is also a goal Gensler notes in his remarks, and one that Republican senators want him to pursue, a committee aide said.

When it comes to crypto, buyers beware. Gensler will say that the new digital currency markets resemble a time before securities laws: He wants more investor protection in crypto finance, issuance, trading and lending. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, who has been outspoken about regulatory gaps in the crypto industry, will follow up on those concerns, an aide said. Senator Cynthia Lummis, Republican of Wyoming, will also press Gensler for regulation, but with an emphasis that reflects her support of the crypto industry. “We must have a balanced legal framework for digital assets that enables innovation and protects consumers,” she told DealBook in a statement.

More required disclosures on climate risk, human capital and cybersecurity are in the works. Perhaps sensing the resistance he’ll face on this issue, Gensler will note that “these proposals will be informed by economic analysis and will be put out to public comment, so that we can have robust public discussion.” Ranking committee member Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania has pushed back on added disclosures on environmental, social and governance issues before, and he’ll likely renew these criticisms at the hearing.

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