Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

A Leader for the S.E.C

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

A Leader for the S.E.C

Article excerpt

Obama's naming of Elisse Walter as chairwoman does not create a commission that can advance much needed reform of the financial markets.

In appointing Elisse Walter, a Democratic commissioner at the Securities and Exchange Commission, to serve as the agency's next chairwoman, President Obama appears to be aiming for continuity when Mary Schapiro, the current chairwoman, steps down next month.

That's understandable on one level. With markets especially touchy in fear of the so-called fiscal cliff, now is no time to leave the agency with an interim chief. By elevating Ms. Walter, Mr. Obama ensures that she has the full power of the position, while leaving open the door to nominate someone else later, as he is expected to do. Seen in that light, Ms. Walter is a place holder, but with authority.

But on another level, the naming of Ms. Walter is problematic. The S.E.C. badly needs to be revitalized, not held to its present course. Under Ms. Schapiro, most of the rules the agency is supposed to write and enforce under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law have not been finalized, including regulations to rein in derivatives, reform the credit ratings agencies and shed light on executive pay. …

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