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The New Yorker Profiles SEC Chair White

A profile of SEC Chair Mary Jo White appeared in the November 11, 2013 issue of The New Yorker.  Street Cop details the challenges Chair White faces as she heads the SEC in the wake of the financial crisis.  Heavily influenced by her work as a U.S. Attorney and as a litigator at Debevoise and Plimpton, Chair White’s early focus at the SEC has been on the agency’s enforcement activities.  Notably, she announced that the SEC would be willing to go to trial, if necessary, to require certain defendants to admit wrongdoing.  She admitted, however, that the new policy would be used sparingly, stating, “The change is that in certain kinds of cases that require greater public accountability, we may make a judgment that it’s important to get an admission.  Has there been obstructive behavior?  Has there been high-level misconduct.”

The article also details the SEC’s regulatory challenges as well, noting the agency’s dual responsibilities to both enforce the laws governing the financial markets as well as write “the rules to govern future activity.”  While Chair White’s experience in litigation has helped her fill key roles in the SEC’s enforcement division, she has yet to fill important regulatory positions, including the head of the Division of Trading and Markets.  While two of the three early priorities she identified during her confirmation hearing are regulatory in nature, she has yet to demonstrate a commitment to regulation designed to address potential causes of the financial crisis.  The article contends that if more than enforcement is required “to prevent another financial calamity, White has yet to prove that she’s going to deliver it.”

The article may be viewed on-line here.