Rudyard Kipling and the SEC

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Logging on to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s website this week to check on a client’s filing, I took a brief detour to peruse other parts of the site. 
 
You wouldn’t know by looking at the home page or by clicking on the news section that the market was gyrating and  people were panicked.  In fact, it seemed like business as usual.  And maybe that’s a good thing.
 
I looked at the bios of the five commissioners, including chair Mary Schapiro. They all have impressive backgrounds, but interestingly enough, none ever worked in a publicly traded company.  Hmmm.
 
Last Friday, the day investors were recovering from the previous day’s  512-point stock market drop, the SEC issued a press release announcing that Commissioner Kathleen L. Casey was stepping down, having completed her five-year term.  No mention of the market’s volatility. Other SEC news that day included the Commission’s insider trading charge against a public company board member and his son. Baseball great Doug DeCinces got the same kind of charge the day before.  That was really a bad day for Doug.
 
Again this  week, with unprecedented market gyrations, four unrelated SEC news releases have been issued:  an announcement of a meeting in China regarding audit oversight cooperation; broker fraud involving the sale of investments to a school district in the mid-west; insider trading prior to a Disney deal; and today’s announcement of a new whistleblowerprogram.
 
By the way, press releases aside, there’s other interesting information on the SEC’s website, from special studies, interesting complaints and even job postings.
 
The SEC has been around since 1934, formed during the peak years of the Great Depression, just after passage of the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934–both of which were designed to restore investor confidence in our capital markets by providing investors and the markets with more reliable information and “clear rules of honest dealing.”
 
The Commission’s stated mission is “to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly and efficient markets and facilitate capital formation.”
 
The website states that “As more and more first-time investors turn to the markets to help secure their futures, pay for homes and send their children to college, our investor protection mission is more compelling than ever.”
 
The SEC’s steady, business-as-usual approach to news is refreshing and symbolic of Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem, “If,” which reminds us all to keep our heads while others are losing theirs.

 

— Roger Pondel, rpondel@pondel.com
 
 

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