Why, it was just Wednesday that we were celebrating the return to public life of Gary Gensler. The mopey but crusading former CFTC chair had last been seen in Elizabeth Warren’s fantasy Cabinet for a Hillary Clinton administration that would never happen and angrily throwing his BlackBerry against a wall. Now, he’s the HBIC—along with Ted Kaufman—of all financial regulatory appointments in the going-to-happen Biden administration, and wouldn’t you know he thinks he has just the guy to run the SEC.

Joe Biden’s presidential transition has barely started but already banks and investment firms are anxious about two names they fear are in the running to lead the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The uneasiness started late last week, when news broke that Gary Gensler -- a scourge of Wall Street when he led the Commodity Futures Trading Commission -- had been tapped to examine financial regulators for the president-elect. That fueled concerns that Gensler himself might be in line for the top job at the SEC or another agency he’s reviewing.

It’s on, baby! Now we can’t imagine why the president-elect wouldn’t want Gensler in Jay Clayton’s chair, but Bloomberg did say there are two names?

Then Washington lobbyists and industry trade groups got wind of another SEC contender who they would find potentially more alarming: Preet Bharara, Manhattan’s former top federal prosecutor.

Anyway, speaking of Elizabeth Warren, when will Republicans learn to stop keeping people from the jobs they belong in for fear of seeing them wind up somewhere much more powerful? Of course, if Mitch McConnell & co. decide to give Gensler and/or Bharara the Merrick Garland treatment, there’s still plenty Biden’s team can do without Senate approval.

Even without help from Congress, Mr. Biden could change circumstances for federal employees and contractors, allowing them to receive pay increases, and making it easier for them to get diversity training or join unions. He has said he would seek to undo Trump administration regulations that made it easier for businesses to count workers as independent contractors who often aren’t eligible for certain worker protections and benefits…. Mr. Biden has said he plans to double the number of OSHA inspectors, which is at its lowest level in decades, according to the National Employment Law Project, which advocates for low-wage workers….

He has said his administration will reverse Trump administration directives restricting union activity in federal agencies and pursue regulations that would increase workplace rights for gig workers and independent contractors.

Mr. Biden also could raise the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15 an hour, from $10.10 an hour, and scrap orders that restricted diversity training and pledges to hire minority candidates by contractors.

Wherever did a guy like Joe Biden get such extralegislative ideas from?

The Labor Department has restricted some US retirement plans from considering environmental or social factors in selecting investments, potentially hampering one of the fastest-growing segments of the private equity industry.

The department ruled last month that fiduciaries of retirement plans need to select investments based only on financial factors.

Don’t worry, Wall Street: You’ve still got, er, the White House chief of staff.

Preet Bharara Is a Candidate to Run SEC, Putting Bankers on Edge [Bloomberg]
Biden Labor Department to Focus on Executive Actions If GOP Keeps Senate [WSJ]
New rule complicates private equity’s ESG push [Private Equity News]
Joe Biden’s chief of staff pick has had a long career in venture capital. [NYT]
‘Hipster Antitrust’ Comes for Joe Biden [DealBook]

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