Friday, April 23, 2010

Where Was the SEC during the Financial Crisis?

Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Apparently, while the American financial system was burning, leading staffers of the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) were diddling. To be more precise, they were spending their work days looking at pornography. Link here.

Does this explain how the SEC missed Bernard Madoff's ponzi scheme? Perhaps. Does it tell us something about the work ethic that allowed the SEC to miss Allen Stanford's fraud? Perhaps it does.

When you consider how how the SEC spends its time, are you now more or less confident in the ability of government officials to regulate the financial system? Those who wear ideological blinders always feel that people who are not in it for profit are likely to be more dedicated and more honorable than those who are chasing after filthy lucre.

The truth would appear to lie somewhere else. Underpaid bureaucrats, especially those whose employment is protected by union contracts or who are otherwise difficult to fire, do not feel very committed to their jobs. Since they cannot be held accountable for poor performance, they must be wondering why they should be performing at all.

[As one might expect Bess Levin of Dealbreaker has written the definitive account of pornography and the SEC. Her post is filled with salacious details, so I am happy to link it here.] As they say: Enjoy!

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