Remarks at “The SEC Speaks in 2013”, by Commissioner Daniel M. Gallagher, on February 22, 2013

Another non water reference nonetheless this brings us closer to understanding the struggles facing the Securities and Exchange Commission, Dodd-Frank, Congress and POTUS roles in regulating financial institutions. Here is Excerpt from Commissioner Daniel Gallaghers address: “….Although the Commission continues to stare down an overflowing plate of Dodd-Frank mandates in addition to its other responsibilities, as an expert, independent agency, the Commission must not allow itself to assume a secondary role in the regulation of matters squarely within its jurisdiction and core competencies. This, I’m afraid, is exactly the role that the Commission has taken thus far with respect to critical initiatives, including the Volcker Rule. Pursuant to Section 619 of Dodd-Frank, the three Federal banking agencies, the SEC, and the CFTC must together adopt regulations to implement the Volcker Rule’s two prohibitions on banking entities and their affiliates: its prohibition on engaging in proprietary trading and its prohibition on sponsoring or investing in “covered funds” such as hedge funds or private equity funds. Unfortunately, there is little doubt that notwithstanding the valiant efforts of the SEC staff, the Commission for too long has taken a back seat to the banking regulators in this rulemaking process. As I have said in the past, despite the Rule’s ostensible application to banking entities, the Rule is actually focused on the conduct to be regulated, not the entities that engage in this activity. There is no question that the specific trading, hedging, and investing activities to be regulated under the Rule fall firmly within the Commission’s core competencies, as they deal directly with SEC registrants and registration requirements. It makes little sense, therefore, for the Commission to defer to the banking regulators in this area when for decades it has regulated securities market-making in order to facilitate liquidity and promote the efficient allocation of capital. The implementing rulemaking for the Volcker Rule was proposed in October 2011. Almost a year and a half — and over 18,000 comment letters — later, the Volcker Rule remains at the proposal stage. Indeed, it appears that the proposal’s broad definitions of statutory terms have taken a bad situation and made it worse. Commission staff continue to engage in discussions with the bank regulators and the CFTC regarding the many concerns raised in those 18,000-plus comment letters. For this rule to get done and get done properly, the SEC must take a leadership role. In fact, I believe it is our duty as the independent financial regulator with primary authority over, and expertise in, the activities to be regulated to ensure that the final Rule meets the aims of Congress without destroying critically important market activity that the Rule explicitly intends not to eliminate. Moreover, in accordance with its core mission, it is the Commission’s responsibility to balance the bank regulators’ focus on safety and soundness and Dodd-Frank’s overarching focus on managing systemic risk with legitimate considerations of investor protection and the maintenance of vibrant markets. This brings me to the elephant in the room: FSOC. FSOC was created, in part, to respond to the realization during the financial crisis that regulatory balkanization had resulted in a lack of communication and information-sharing among financial services regulators, which undoubtedly led to poor policy decisions during the crisis. None of us who lived through the crisis on the ground floor would argue against improvements to the regulatory structure that would facilitate coordination and information-sharing among regulators. However, with FSOC the threats to the Commission’s independence move from the theoretical to the immediate, for already in its short existence, this new body has directly challenged the Commission’s regulatory independence. It is also where just one member of the Commission, the Chairman, can defend that independence. Pursuant to the provisions of Dodd-Frank establishing FSOC, the group is composed not of agencies, but the individual heads of agencies, acting ex officio.” See link for entire address. http://www.sec.gov/news/speech/2013/spch022213dmg.htm

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