If you merely looked at the SEC’s record on enforcement, you’d conclude that it suffered from a Keystone Kops-like inability to get out of its own way. The question remains whether that outcome is the result of unmotivated leadership (ex in the safe realm of insider trading cases) and long-term budget starvation leading to serious skills atrophy, or whether the SEC really, truly, is so deeply intellectually captured by the financial services industry that it thinks industry members don’t engage in fraud, they only make “mistakes”?
It’s sure looking like the latter. We’ve railed repeatedly on the refusal of the SEC to use an obvious tool, Sarbanes Oxley, to pursue not only the massive failings of these firms to install adequate risk controls during the crisis, but also to go after obvious recent cases, namely, the JP Morgan CIO losses and the MF Global collapse.
Further confirmation comes today in the form of investor abuse and repudiation of Dodd Frank requirements that the SEC hopes to slip next week when hopefully no one will notice.