Monday, January 5, 2009

Cox's Damage to the SEC

We didn't need Reuters to tell us that the SEC has had a rough time during Chairman Cox's reign, but their article yesterday also provides a very detailed examination of the Commission's failings during the last few years.

While the problems at any agency or corporation are often placed on the leader of that entity, too much is blamed on Cox, who was not the Chairman during most of Madoff's Mess. Nor was he the Chairman while Enron was cooking the books.

So, blaming Cox many not be justified, but a closer examination of the SEC, what it does, and how it does it, is certainly in order. The SEC has always been the agency that closes the barn door after the horses are long gone, but to have missed so many frauds, so much misconduct over the years is inexcusable.

And I don't agree with the WSJ op ed column that blames the SEC-Wall Street revolving door as the issue. As Bruce Carlton properly points out in Compliance Week, there is no such door. Sure, some SEC executives go to Wall Street when the leave the Commission. No doubt. But the rest of the Staff isn't looking to slack off in order to get a big job. The Enforcement Staff that I have dealt with over the years were zealous - and usually accused of trying to make a name for themselves as a securities litigator, not as a patsy for the securities industry.
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