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Biden signals Wall Street crackdown with transition picks

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News of the appointments buoyed the hopes of progressives who have been skeptical about whether Biden would try to rein in Wall Street.



Leading the transition’s preparation to run financial regulatory agencies is Gary Gensler, an Obama-era regulator — and former top Goldman Sachs executive — who enraged big banks by imposing sweeping new rules on the industry in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

Gensler's team includes former Democratic congressional aides who played a major role in drafting tougher laws for financial firms after the subprime meltdown and later fought efforts to water them down. One member has rattled bank executives for years as the head of one of Washington’s leading financial reform groups, Better Markets. Another is an advocate for the Postal Service offering financial services that would compete with banks.



But progressives are hopeful that the president-elect will heed the calls of many in his party to crack down on financial firms that they say escaped significant penalties for their role in the 2008 crisis and have benefited from looser regulation and tax cuts under Trump.


"Joe Biden branded himself as a candidate who evolves along with the rest of the Democratic Party, and that's clearly true on financial regulation,” said Jeff Hauser, executive director of the Revolving Door Project. “Biden's team is vastly more independent from the financial sector than Hillary Clinton's team was set to be four years ago."


Indeed, the announcement of the transition team fed the worst fears of bankers that Biden could lurch left when it comes to financial oversight. It “didn’t give me a warm fuzzy feeling,” one official at a major bank said. Bank lobbyists said it was a bad sign that there weren't more transition team members with competing views, including industry representatives.


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