Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Sec Chairman Breeden Sends Reassuring Signals to Markets

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Sec Chairman Breeden Sends Reassuring Signals to Markets

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - In his first public discussion of the future policy of the Securities and Exchange Commission since he took office as chairman two weeks ago, Richard C. Breeden sent reassuring signals to the markets today, saying that his agency would not press Congress to grant the commission power to close the nation's securities markets in times of crisis.

``Circuit breakers'' put in place after the stock market crash of 1987, which require temporary trading halts if the market drops a certain amount, had diminished the need for the SEC to be given summary authority to close down trading, he said.

``Moreover, my personal view is that a decision of that economic consequence should not be made by the commission alone,'' Breeden said. ``It should ultimately be a decision the president makes.''

In a broad-ranging interview about how he plans to conduct the business of the agency that regulates Wall Street, Breeden outlined an agenda that could both increase the agency's reach in some areas, while checking its influence in others.

Reflecting the thinking of his mentor, President Bush, he said, ``We want to be a fair cop. But we also want to be a tough cop.''

For example, he said he would strongly support any initiatives that require banks and savings and loan associations that issue stock and other securities to the public to register with the SEC, a measure that would bring thousands of financial institutions under the regulation of the commission. The issue has been debated in Congress, but there has been no legislation.

But at the same time, he said he was not prepared to continue the fight of his predecessor, David S. Ruder, to wrest regulation of stock-index futures from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission.

And, in addressing the recent volatility in the market and fears raised in Congress and in the investment community about the proliferation of leveraged buyouts and corporate takeovers, he declined to take a strong position.

``I don't know what the right level is,'' he said, referring to takeover activity. ``The marketplace should decide those questions.''

For the 39-year-old former assistant to the president for issues analysis in the Bush White House and main architect of the savings and loan bailout, Breeden's first two weeks on the job have been a period of intensive training. …

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