One Raritan Plaza - 7th Floor
Edison, NJ 08818
October 15, 2001
Jonathan G. Katz, Secretary
Securities and Exchange Commission
450 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20549-0609
Dear Secretary Katz:
Subject: SR NASD 2001-66-Super Soes Reserve Size Display Requirement & Refresh Increment Changes ("The Rule")
I have been a participant in the financial markets in many different capacities over the last seven years. I started out as a CPA with KPMG, auditing public companies. I then became an internal auditor with PaineWebber, reviewing many of the firm's areas from Operations to the Equity Derivatives Desk. Our reviews always included compliance oriented objectives as a core focus of our audits. I then became a Registered Representative (RR) with PaineWebber in a branch where I made investment decisions with my clients. I am now a RR with Heartland, where my daily trading decisions directly affect Heartland's clients, Heartland and myself. I only mention my background to convey the fact that I do have a detailed and broad understanding of the financial markets and how many parts of our society they touch.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has had a remarkable track record of keeping the securities markets a fair and orderly place for investors to both buy and sell financial instruments. I feel confident that this will remain in the future, as it is the great liquidity and transparency of our financial markets that helps makes the United States economy both the strongest in the world and a benchmark for the rest of the world.
The rule change in question, if allowed to be changed, would have deep and serious repercussions for arguably the most important and often the least protected market participant; the individual investor. This rule change would decrease the transparency of the markets for NASDAQ traded securities. Allowing Market Makers (MM's) to quote 100 shares and refresh unlimited times gives the individual investor the impression that the stock is not heavily offered and therefore may be ready to rise in price. It is a difficult enough of a task for the individual investor to ascertain the long term prospects for growth of a particular investment, but this rule change will make it that much more hazardous to estimate an appropriate entry or exit point as well. It is my understanding that transparency is an extremely important goal of the SEC and this should be protected.
This rule change would also reduce the liquidity of the Nasdaq Market, because they would only have to be there for 100 shares and could unduly hold up the movement of a stock. With the long debated birth of Super Soes, came a market where stocks quickly move towards "real" buyers and sellers. This rule would allow them to slow the stock down, while minimizing their own risk. I think it is pretty clear that intuitively this makes sense.
Why is it that after only a few weeks of implementation there is a request to change the rules? The answer to this is a complex one with different factors. I do not profess to know exactly why; however we can be sure that money is the driving force behind the motives. I do not mean to say that money should not come into play when making the rules of play for our financial markets, but I do think that our priorities of who comes first is more important. Do we want to put the MM's first or the individual investor first? Let us remember that we are only a few short years away from the multi-billion dollar law suit against these same Nasdaq MM's who were colluding with each other to artificially inflate the spreads of Nasdaq stocks, enriching themselves over their customers loss.
It is my opinion that we have not had enough time to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the new Super Soes system. We should not allow the Nasdaq MM's to unilaterally change the rules in their favor at the cost of the individual investor.