Each year the SEC brings hundreds of civil enforcement actions
for securities laws violations such as insider trading, accounting fraud, and providing false or misleading information about securities and the companies that issue them.
In 2008, the global credit crisis—which began with the deterioration of mortgage origination standards, and eventually spread to financial institutions from commercial banks, insurers, and investment firms to the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae
and Freddie Mac
—found regulated institutions in Europe and Asia vulnerable as well. The stresses on markets and market participants exposed significant regulatory gaps here and abroad.
As the SEC completes its 75th year, both domestic and foreign policy makers are focused on financial services regulatory modernization
. It is time to think anew. Financial institutions, whether administered by Wall Street or people closer to home, exist to raise money for productive enterprise and millions of jobs, and to help put the savings of millions of Americans to work in our economy. This is a noble purpose. But that fundamentally important role in our nation’s economic life is jeopardized if finance becomes an end in itself—a baroque cathedral of complexity dedicated to the limitless compensation of its own in the short-term, and impervious to the long-term risk it imposes on others that is capable of threatening the entire nation’s sustenance and growth.
Transparency, which is the antidote to such dangerous complexity, has been sorely lacking from enormous swaths of our market. Over the past several years, the Commission has begun several high-profile initiatives
to reduce complexity. It should by now be abundantly clear that risk in the financial system which cannot be clearly identified can neither be efficiently priced nor effectively disciplined by the market.
“The men and women
of the SEC are committed
to doing everything
they can, every day, to
protect your investment
in America’s future.”
Since its founding 75 years ago, the SEC has worked
to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation.
The SEC requires public companies to disclose information
that investors can use to judge for themselves whether to buy, sell, or hold stocks and bonds. The SEC regulates the exchanges on which stocks, bonds, and other securities are traded. The Commission makes rules that govern trading on the exchanges and oversees the exchanges’ own rules. The primary purpose of this regulation is to maintain fair dealing for ordinary investors and to protect against fraud.
The SEC also regulates certain securities brokers, dealers, investment advisers, and investment companies. In these areas, the Commission is concerned primarily with promoting the disclosure of important information and protecting against fraud.