SEC Names Lawrence E. Harris Chief Economist


Washington, D.C., May 6, 2002 -- Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey L. Pitt today announced that the Commission has named Professor Lawrence E. Harris as Chief Economist and head of the Commission's Office of Economic Analysis. As chief economist, Dr. Harris will advise the Commission and its staff on critical economic issues, recommend and initiate major policy projects designed to make the Commission's regulations more efficient and effective, and oversee staff analysis of the economic impact of SEC regulatory actions, policies and proposals.

Dr. Harris, 45, will join the Commission July 1 on a two-year leave of absence from the University of Southern California, where he holds the Fred V. Keenan Chair in Finance at the Marshall School of Business. He will succeed Acting Chief Economist William J. Atkinson, who is retiring in July after 30 years with the Commission.

"As chief economist, Larry will play a critical role in helping the Commission achieve our immediate goal of putting state-of-the-art economic analysis at the heart of every Commission policy and regulatory decision," Pitt said. "Innovations in trading technologies, trading products, financial disclosure and corporate financing depend on the formation of effective public policy borne of a full understanding of economic costs and benefits. I look forward to working with Larry to help us develop and maintain world-class economic capacity to ensure that the Commission's initiatives protect investors and promote markets that function fairly and efficiently."

"Larry will certainly benefit from Bill Atkinson's excellent stewardship of our economic analysis operations," Pitt added. "The Commission owes Bill a deep debt of gratitude for the talented leadership and expertise that he provided throughout his distinguished career of public service, and we wish him every future happiness and success."

"Larry brings great depth of knowledge and expertise on the wide range of issues facing the Commission," said SEC Commissioner Cynthia A. Glassman, who also holds a Ph.D. in economics. "As important, Larry also understands the practical application of economic theories and the need to provide information that the investing public can understand."

"The tremendous prosperity of our economy depends critically on having fair and fully functioning markets," Harris said. "Good markets do not just happen. They depend on the SEC working closely with fellow regulators and the securities industry to ensure that our markets function fairly and efficiently. I look forward to addressing today's regulatory challenges with the assistance of my new colleagues in the Directorate of Economic Analysis. I appreciate the confidence that Chairman Pitt, Commissioners Glassman and Hunt and the senior staff have expressed in me for this position."

Harris received his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Chicago in 1982, where he examined price-volume relations in securities markets. He is an expert in the economics of securities market microstructure and the uses of transactions data in financial research. He has also written extensively about exchange trading rules, volatility and stock index markets.

Harris is also the author of "Trading and Exchanges: Market Microstructure for Practitioners," a book scheduled for publication in September. The book will provide a complete overview—in plain English—of how markets work and how people trade in them. The book will also explain liquidity, transaction costs, volatility, informative prices, and trader profits.

Last modified: 5/6/2002