Sunday, May 18, 2008

SEC, too little, too late

"The [SEC] will require investment banks to publicly disclose their funding levels after the second quarter, in the agency's first step to increase disclosure in the light of the collapse of Bear Stearns Cos. SEC Chairman Christopher Cox said in a speech Wednesday that the four largest investment banks overseen by the SEC will disclose 'actual capital and liquidity positions ... in terms that the market can readily understand and digest.' ... Investment banks provide liquidity information in their quarterly reports, but the SEC is looking to expand that to include capital ratios--assets minus liabilities--and what goes into that, such as regulatory capital and risk-weighted assets. ... In addition to increased disclosure on funding levels, the SEC has begun increasing stress-testing at the four largest brokerage firms it reviews under a voluntary oversight program", WSJ, 8 May 2008.

What does this mean? Will the SEC have these firms disclose under what circumstances they might have to shut down? Or is this another "smoke and mirrors dance" to conceal the investment banks financial condition? Let us not forget Cox sang Bear Stearns praises five days before JPMorgan swallowed it. See my 1 April 2008 post.

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