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Commissioner Jackson Calls for Regulatory Oversight of Index Providers

In a New York Times opinion piece, SEC Commissioner Robert Jackson called for a “national conversation” on how to ensure index providers operate with integrity, transparency and accountability. In the piece, Jackson and an academic observed that while low-cost index funds have steadily gained trillions of dollars in assets, index providers face little regulatory scrutiny despite the risk of significant conflicts of interest. Jackson noted that index providers have enormous power and discretion to include and remove companies from their indexes, which can have great impact on a company’s stock price. Jackson implied that, as in the LIBOR-rigging scandal, there is opportunity for manipulation and conflicts by index providers.  He wrote that given the conflicts of interest the index providers face and the power they wield over markets, regulators may need to increase oversight because current law is ill-suited for appropriately ensuring transparency and accountability.

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