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Friday, October 2, 2009

Update: House Financial Services Committee On The Right Track

Sometiimes those in Congress seem to work in the right direction.  This is one of these times and one of these politicians who are trying to do the right thing.

Most of his proposals go in the right direction especially those that have to do with regulating the private funds.  How they were and are able to sell "securities" to the public without any regulation is something I have always questioned.

Maybe the SEC and those higher up - that the SEC Chairman reports to -  need some investigating.  I don't believe the SEC needs more "power" it just needs to actually enforce the laws and the regulations currently on their books.  Some thirty years ago, very little got past them.  They were as feared to the investment world as the IRS was feared by everyone.  What changed or who changed it?  Not the fear part the strict execution of their duties and responsibilities.
The Madoff fraud revealed that the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board lacked the powers it needed to examine the auditors of broker-dealers.
The oversight board may have lacked the powers but the SEC did not.  Madoff could not have pulled this off for so many years without the knowledge of the SEC and some higher up the multiple administration's ladder.  SEC had the power just not the willingness.  What needs to change at the SEC are the people not the powers.

Dispensing more "power" in the long run creates more abuse of power by those holding the power.  Power is an addictive intoxicant.  As such Congress should form PCA - Power Crazed Anonymous - and offer a 12 step program whereby the last step in the program is giving up the power or stepping down.

Power and Control are the issues at hand and the culprits that have created our current long term crisis.  But Congressman Kanjorski is on the right track which in itself TheMortgageCornerFORUM finds very refreshing.

The following is from email updates I receive from this committee.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                               
October 1, 2009                                                                                                         

Capital Markets Chairman Addresses Key Pieces of Financial Regulatory Reform
Through Comprehensive Bills and Administration Input

WASHINGTON – Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (D-PA), Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises, today released discussion drafts of three pieces of legislation aimed at tackling key parts of reforming the regulatory structure of the U.S. financial services industry.  The draft bills include the Investor Protection Act, the Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act, and the Federal Insurance Office Act.

Chairman Kanjorski introduced bipartisan legislation earlier this year and in the last Congress to create a federal insurance office, which was backed by the Obama Administration and included in its proposals for financial services regulatory reform.  Congresswoman Judy Biggert (R-IL), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, joined as an original co-sponsor of the 2009 bill when it was first introduced.  Chairman Kanjorski also worked to revise and significantly enhance the Investor Protection Act and the Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act proposed by the Obama Administration this summer.

“Today, we take another step forward in overhauling the regulatory structure of the financial services industry,” said Chairman Kanjorski.  “With these three bills we will address many of the shortcomings and loopholes laid bare by the current financial crisis.  The Investor Protection Act will better protect investors and increase the funding and enforcement powers of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  We must ensure that investor confidence continues to increase for the betterment of our financial system.

“Additionally, we need to ensure that everyone who swims in our capital markets has an annual pool pass.  The Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act will force many more financial providers to register with the SEC.  Many financial firms skirt government oversight and get away like bandits, but now the advisers to hedge funds, private equity firms, and other private pools of capital would become subject to more scrutiny by the SEC.

“Finally, bipartisan legislation which I first introduced in the last Congress to create a federal insurance office to fill a gap in the federal government’s knowledge base on financial activities.  For several years, including in this Congress, I have worked to advance bipartisan legislation to address this issue, and I am pleased that the Administration also understands the need for this office and welcome the refinements they suggested to my bill.”

Summaries of the three legislative discussion drafts follow:

Investor Protection Act
·        Protecting Investors and Righting Wrongs.  The financial crisis exposed the perils of deregulation.  The Investor Protection Act will right these wrongs by reforming the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to strengthen its powers, better protect investors, and efficiently and effectively regulate our securities markets.
·        Comprehensive Securities Review and Reorganization.  The failures to detect the Madoff and Stanford Financial frauds demonstrate deep deficiencies in our existing securities regulatory structure.  An expeditious, independent, comprehensive study of the entire securities industry by a high caliber body will identify reforms and force the SEC and other entities to put in place further improvements designed to ensure superior investor protection.
·        Enhanced SEC Enforcement Powers and Funding.  By doubling the authorized funding for the SEC over 5 years and providing dozens of new enforcement powers and regulatory authorities, the SEC will be able to enhance its enforcement programs and gain the tools needed to better protect investors and police today’s markets.
·        Fiduciary Duty.  Every financial intermediary who provides advice will have a fiduciary duty toward their customers.  Through a harmonized standard, broker-dealers and investment advisers will have to put customers’ interests first.
·        Whistleblower Bounties.  A whistleblower bounty program will create incentives to identify wrongdoing in our securities markets and reward individuals whose tips lead to successful enforcement actions.  With a bounty program, we will effectively have more cops on the beat in our securities markets.
·        Ending Mandatory Arbitration.  Because mandatory arbitration has limited the ability of defrauded investors to seek redress, the SEC will gain the power to bar these clauses in customer contracts.
·        Closing Loopholes and Fixing Faulty Laws.  The Madoff fraud revealed that the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board lacked the powers it needed to examine the auditors of broker-dealers.  The $65 billion Ponzi scheme also exposed faults in the Securities Investor Protection Act, the law that returns money to the customers of insolvent fraudulent broker-dealers.  The Investor Protection Act closes these loopholes and fixes these shortcomings.

Click here to view the draft Investor Protection Act.

Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act
·        Everyone Registers.  Sunlight is the best disinfectant.  By mandating the registration of private advisers to hedge funds and other private pools of capital, regulators will better understand exactly how those entities operate and whether their actions pose a threat to the financial system as a whole.
·        Better Regulatory Information.  New recordkeeping and disclosure requirements for private advisers will give regulators the information needed to evaluate both individual firms and entire market segments that have until this time largely escaped any meaningful regulation, without posing undue burdens on those industries.
·        Level the Playing Field.  The advisers to hedge funds, private equity firms, single-family offices, and other private pools of capital will have to obey some basic ground rules in order to continue to play in our capital markets.  Regulators will have authority to examine the records of these previously secretive investment advisers.
Click here to view the draft Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act.

Federal Insurance Office Act
·        Federal Insurance Expertise.  Insurance plays a vital role in the smooth and efficient functioning of our economy, but the credit crisis highlighted the lack of expertise within the federal government regarding the industry, especially during the collapse of American International Group (AIG) and last year’s turmoil in the bond insurance markets.  A Federal Insurance Office will provide national policymakers with access to the information and resources needed to respond to crises, mitigate systemic risks, and help ensure a well functioning financial system.
·        International Coordination.  Although America’s insurance markets still operate on a state-by-state basis, today’s markets are global.  The Federal Insurance Office will therefore provide a unified voice on insurance matters for the United States in global deliberations.
Click here to view the draft Federal Insurance Office Act

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