Friday, May 2, 2014

The SEC is letting the market stay rigged

A congressman from Massachusetts criticized the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chair, Mary Jo White, yesterday for failing to do her job. She's a former Wall Street lawyer (no shock there, right?)

The Teamsters are trying to put some backbone in the agency. We want the SEC to set some rules that require corporations to tell shareholders how much money they're spending on political campaigns. We think it's important to let investors know if a corporate CEO is directing money to politicians who don't act in the best interest of the country or the company. Even though Congress ordered the SEC to make that rule, we're still waiting for it.

We also want the SEC to set a rule requiring companies to disclose the gap between CEO pay and worker pay. We're waiting for the agency to follow Congress's orders on that one, too.

The SEC is supposed to regulate the stock market. It isn't really. Here's U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano on the SEC's fail, thanks to the Wall Street on Parade blog:

“Six years ago we had a humongous financial crisis — greatest in my lifetime, hopefully the last in my lifetime, we’ll see. Five years ago we passed a significant law to try to address some of the things that caused that crisis. Three years ago the SEC passed some proposed regulations, adopted proposed regulations, relative to credit rating agencies that came out of that Dodd-Frank bill – three years later those rules are still not finalized. 
“A few years ago Supreme Court made a ruling that corporations are people and they can spend money any where they want…many of us asked the SEC to address that issue — to simply require corporations who make political donations to simply publicize them — and the SEC has now taken a walk on that request after several years of being asked. 
“Recently you had one of your long term attorneys, who I understand is well respected within the agency, retire. At his retirement party, he basically criticized the SEC’s approach over the last several years as being too timid relative to enforcement actions against some of the biggest names on Wall Street, therefore leading to an attitude on Wall Street that what’s the big deal, we can get away with it; maybe pay a small fine relative to the rewards we reap. 
“And now recently we’ve had a book that’s come out by a well respected author, whether you agree with all the details or not, certainly raises questions, serious questions, as to whether the whole market is rigged against especially small investors…After all these things — that the SEC really hasn’t done much about.”