Facts and Fictions in The Securities Industry 1st edition


Q. Is the SEC - or at least its current head - in hock to special interests, e.g., the accounting industry? A



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Q. Is the SEC - or at least its current head - in hock to special interests, e.g., the accounting industry?

A. "In hock to special interests" is too explicit a statement about US practice. It makes a good slogan for a Marxist law school professor, but reality is far subtler.

By unwritten bipartisan agreement, the Chairman of the SEC is always a political figure. Two of the five SEC Commissioners are always Democrats, two Republicans, and the Chairman belongs to the political party of the President. I am curious to see if this same agreement will apply to the boards established under the Sarbannes-Oxley Act.

Thus, both parties typically choose a candidate for Chairman of impeccable partisan credentials and consistent adherence to the "party line". The less connected, the less partisan, and academicians serve as Commissioners, not Chairmen.

The Chairman's tenure normally overlaps with a specific President's term in office, even when, as with President Bush the elder following President Reagan, the same party remains in power. SEC jobs lend themselves to lucrative post-Commission employment. This explains the dearth of "loyal opposition". Alumni pride themselves on their connections following their departure.

The Chairman is no more and no less "in hock" than any leading member of a US political party. Still, I faulted Chairman Pitt, and became the first former member of SEC management to call for his resignation, in an Op/Ed item in the Miami Herald. In my view, he was impermissibly indulgent of his former law clients at the expense of SEC enforcement.



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