Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Boss = Old Boss

"When President-elect Barack Obama nominated Mary Schapiro to lead the [SEC], he criticized regulators for having 'dropped the ball' in a 'failure of oversight' in the Bernard Madoff scandal. But a close examination of Ms. Schapiro's record as a regulator shows she has infrequently pursued tough action against big Wall Street firms. A regulatory-agency merger that Ms. Schapiro oversaw shifted power to larger financial firms at the expense of small ones. ... Last year, amid historic market convulsions and Wall Street scandals, Finra often filed tiny cases against small players. During the past few years of Ms. Schapiro's career as a regulator, which earns her over $3 million a year, enforcement fines against firms have plunged. ... Schapiro advocated the regulatory merger that created her agency by arguing in 2007--just before the mortgage bubble burst and financial firms wobbled--that the result would be 'reducing regulatory costs and reducing burdens' for Wall Street firms. ... During that time, the NASD and Finra were involved in several examinations of the brokerage business of Mr. Madoff, who stands accused of running a giant Ponzi scheme; her agency concluded in 2007 only that his firm had violated technical rules and had failed to report certain trades in a timely fashion. ... At an event in May, Ms. Schapiro was asked a question about getting tough about mortgage-backed bonds, the securities at the heart of the crisis, and one listener says she seemed to suggest depending on credit-rating agencies that rate the bonds. ... When bringing charges against large securities firms, Ms. Schapiro has occasionally appeared to go easy on them. ... Before bringing a civil adminstrative complaint, Ms. Schapiro at the NASD met with Morgan Stanley's general counsel, Gary Lynch, who sought to have the charges dropped or softened. Mr. Lynch is a former SEC enforcement chief with whom Ms. Schapiro had worked. .. After Finra was created, its enforcement chief, Susan Merrill, assumed oversight of the case. She, too, had previously worked for Mr. Lynch, at the law firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell. The matter was settled in September 2007, after Morgan Stanley persuaded Finra to cut the restitution fund. ... The merger of industry self-regulatory bodies that created Finra reduced the voice of small brokerage firms", my emphasis, Randall Smith, Tom McGinty and Kara Scannell at the WSJ, 15 January 2009.

"President-elect Barak Obama's nominee to head the [SEC] pledged to take the handcuffs off the agency's enforcement division and said she would explore more oversight of hedge funds. ... In a page-one article Thursday, the [WSJ] detailed how Ms. Schapiro has infrequently pursued tough action against big Wall Street firms. Amid the mortgage crisis, Finra often filed tiny cases against small players. ... 'I can be aggressive an enforcer as anybody has ever been at the head of the SEC,' Ms. Schapiro said. She said 'there can be no sacred cows' and that she would go 'will full force' against anyone who commits fraud. Ms. Schapiro told legislators that the Journal article 'presented a completely unfair picture of my record in particular with respect to enforcement and enforcement cases.' ... She also said she would look closely at 'procedural hurdles' hindering the enforcement process, and expressed caution about moving too swiftly toward adopting interantional accounting standards", my emphasis, Kara Scannell at the WSJ, 16 January 2009.

Does Schapiro think she is Linda Thomsen? And is Gary Lynch Mary Jo White in drag? See my 23 October 2008 post, link: http://skepticaltexascpa.blogspot.com/2008/10/who-is-stephen-cutler-2.html. This appointment stinks. Didn't the big Wall Street firms give Obama the majority of their money? Apparently the money was well spent. If Schapiro only "occasionally" went easy on big Wall Street firms, she would never have been nominated.

I believe Schapiro when she says, "I can be an aggressive enforcer as anybody has ever been at the head of the SEC". Think about what Schapiro said. I would go further than Schapiro with respect to IFRS, dropping US adoption.

7 comments:

Junior said...

What a farce. SEC should be dismantled at this point.

I do like Schapiro's belief that IFRS adoption should be delayed, it's a bad move. Our accountants can't even figure out GAAP - IFRS and its judgment-based rules could be the death blow to an industry already confused by good judgment and due diligence. Not to say the little guys slaving away at the spreadsheet aren't doing their part but when you look up the Big 86523 (or whatever you call them)'s food chain, all you see is skewed judgment.

Epic regulatory failure and the last thing we need is this woman barking about more oversight. How about fixing the oversight we already have before considering how to add more?!

Anonymous said...

I'm with Junior...

Enforce the laws we have...

Chinese (or better brick) walls between regulator and regulated...

I'm not smart enough to know about IFRS... but I sure like what India is doing now to Price Waterhouse... hang em on cross... show some enforcement muscle... these are actions that the other market players can understand...

BTW: Shapiro is totally a Wall Street shill... funny how she had fully formed opinions on complex topics instantly... she be transparent mouthpiece...

Printfaster said...

More money for the consolidators. Consolidate home home loans into CDOs, consolidate hedge funds into funds of funds, consolidate banks.

Basically, Wall Street is using the business model of the garbage business, and grabbing all the trash that they can and charging exorbitant rates for it.

Schapiro is an enabler.

This administration is turning into a massive dissembling operation. First they claim all their appointees will be held to ethics standard. The next thing that they do is waive them. They claim an open administration and less secrecy (read Jesse's site today), but where is Obama's birth certificate? They put in Geithner who part of the ancien regime, and claim change. They claim change, to what?

plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

I must be channeling Yves.

Independent Accountant said...

Printfaster:
See my 15 November 2007 post, "Dr. Doom Returns".

Printfaster said...

It seems that there is more than one Dr Doom now. Roubini seems to have snatched the laurel wreath away from Kaufman.

At any rate, even Kaufman waved oversight off, trying to come up with yet another layer of oversight to further hide the sausage. This because no one understood what a CDO was or was worth, or much less a SIV or the rest of the alphabet soup of CDSs, SuperSIV, etc.

Frankly it all boils down to this: Wall Street is burlesque. Pure real-time entertainment. Live TV left us in the 50s, burlesque in the 40s, Vaudeville in the 20s, and now we have Wall Street. Madoff was our latest burlesque queen.

I am hearing strains of "Let me Entertain You" as the NYSE bell goes off. At least burlesque was cheaper and had sex. Wall Street: Bunch of sweaty guys in suits. At least that much we carried over from Burlesque. Feh.

Anonymous said...

Printfaster... Yes...

Wall Street is burlesque.

Bill Gross had the money quote in May 07 (?) calling the AAA CDOs hookers in 6 inch heels...

There has never been a richer, truer, sharper slap in the business... although you are getting very close with your riff...

Printfaster said...

Anon

Gross was wrong.

At least hooker can perform. CDOs never could. I can come up with a better metaphor, but this is a family site.