January 28, 2005
Dear Mr. SEC Bureaucrat:
"We're the Government and we're here to help!"
The problem with Regulation NMS is not rooted in the details of what trading methodology the SEC mystically decides is the 'correct' one, but in the concept of investor protection itself.
We have seen many Government protection efforts. Almost without exception these efforts fail and end up leaving things worse than before. Regulation NMS will be no different.
A few examples…
In the early 1950's all-knowing bureaucrats decided their subjects needed protection from poverty. So the U.S. Government initiated a public housing program to "alleviate unemployment and eliminate unsafe and unsanitary conditions." Of course as this 'protection plan' fell apart, it was decided the solution was more protection- more regulation. Which, oddly-enough, made things worse! End result- more poverty and less safety.
In the early 1970's another set of all-knowing bureaucrats decided their subjects needed protection from rising oil prices. So the U.S. Government initiated a program of oil price control. Of course, this 'protection plan' also fell apart as the price controls lead to shortages and domestic oil exploration came to a halt. End result- higher prices and less oil.
Beyond the fact Government attempts to micromanage market structure nearly always fail or have a myriad of unintended consequences, what makes you think investor price protection is a something people demand or even expect?
I was considering that as I was gassing up my car this morning. When I went to pay the cashier my world fell apart. While I was buying gas the gas station was filling their storage tanks. This is the unbelievable part- the gas station owner paid less than I did! The gas supplier sold right through me. I KNOW he saw me standing there buying gas. How can I not have price protection!
I did some more research and it turns out across town, at the same time I was buying my gas, someone paid less than I did! Gas stations all over my town offer different prices depending on brand, convenience, cleanliness and a host of other reasons. THIS MUST STOP!
I immediately petition the Government to take over regulation of the United States gas station market. The SEC surely has a few extra experts they could lend to start the Gasoline Exchange Commission (GEC).
Why should I get price protection on my purchase of stocks and not gas!? It only makes sense. I hereby petition the GEC to immediately issue regulations requiring:
Mr. SEC (GEC) bureaucrat, I know what you are thinking…
"How would we build all those pipelines?"
But all non-bureaucrats are thinking something else…
"This is the silliest, most ignorant idea I have ever heard."
"Why do they think that?" You ask?
Because people are not stupid, and they realize things trade at different prices all the time, whether it is gas at the gas station or bananas at the grocery store or a coffee at the fast food joint. People also know, from experience, if the government gets involved in protecting them from making their own economic decisions they will end up much worse off in the end.
"We're the Government and we're here to help."