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Melanie Rodier
Melanie Rodier
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6 Most Memorable SEC Chiefs

As critics debate whether President Obama's nominee for the SEC, Mary Jo White, is the right choice, we take a look at some of the past’s most memorable heads of the agency.
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Joseph P. Kennedy 1934-1935

In 1919, Joe Kennedy, the father of President John F Kennedy, joined the brokerage firm Hayden, Stone & Co, where he became an expert in dealing in the unregulated stock market of the day and engaged in tactics that were later labeled insider trading and market manipulation.

In 1934, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt named him the inaugural chairman of the SEC, with a mission to clean up the securities industry. Although he only remained in the position for 15 months, Kennedy's work as the SEC's Chairman was widely praised, as investors realized that the SEC was protecting their interests.

Among the critical reforms he spearheaded was the requirement for companies to regularly file financial statements with the SEC, breaking what some saw as an information monopoly maintained by the Morgan banking family. Kennedy left the SEC in 1935 to take over the Maritime Commission.

 

Melanie Rodier has worked as a print and broadcast journalist for over 10 years, covering business and finance, general news, and film trade news. Prior to joining Wall Street & Technology in April 2007, Melanie lived in Paris, where she worked for the International Herald ... View Full Bio

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Anthony R. O'Donnell
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Anthony R. O'Donnell,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/11/2013 | 9:01:51 PM
re: 6 Most Memorable SEC Chiefs
So among Joe Kennedy's critical reforms was a move that weakened the Morgan banking family, presumably a rival? Better than not getting the reform perhaps, but one has to ask "Cui bono?"
Melanie Rodier
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Melanie Rodier,
User Rank: Author
2/4/2013 | 4:38:57 PM
re: 6 Most Memorable SEC Chiefs
I guess it's like hackers being hired as security experts to test network vulnerabilities...Kennedy did only last for one year at the head of the SEC though. Hopefully the new head will last a bit longer and will have time to finish off pushing through Dodd-Frank and other much needed reforms, while listening to industry concerns and keeping impartial...
KBurger
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KBurger,
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2/4/2013 | 4:30:50 PM
re: 6 Most Memorable SEC Chiefs
There's a new bio of Joe Kennedy that posits something along the lines of his appointment was kind of counter-intuitive because he had been able to work outside of existing regulation (to his financial benefit). The theory is, FDR figured someone like that would understand what was needed to make regulation stronger. And evidently he was more or less right.
Melanie Rodier
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Melanie Rodier,
User Rank: Author
2/4/2013 | 4:28:06 PM
re: 6 Most Memorable SEC Chiefs
-áThat's true, Ivy, particularly since there was a lot of talk after the Madoff Ponzi scheme and the financial crisis about how the SEC really needed people who had a deep understanding of the financial markets. The SEC has to a certain extent hired more financial experts, but perhaps they should hire fewer lawyers and more financial experts at the top, too.
ischmerken
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ischmerken,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/4/2013 | 3:24:09 PM
re: 6 Most Memorable SEC Chiefs
You note that Harvey Pitt was forced to resign because he was too close to the accounting industry and tried to thwart tighter regulation after the Enron scandal. Yet Mary Jo White, nominated by Pres. Obama to become the next SEC chairman, has enriched herself through private practice by defending many Wall Street titans. Is it possible to find someone to head the SEC that doesn't have conflicts of interest? Why do presidents keep barking up the same tree - lawyers?
Ivy Schmerken
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Ivy Schmerken,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/4/2013 | 3:24:09 PM
re: 6 Most Memorable SEC Chiefs
You note that Harvey Pitt was forced to resign because he was too close to the accounting industry and tried to thwart tighter regulation after the Enron scandal. Yet Mary Jo White, nominated by Pres. Obama to become the next SEC chairman, has enriched herself through private practice by defending many Wall Street titans. Is it possible to find someone to head the SEC that doesn't have conflicts of interest? Why do presidents keep barking up the same tree - lawyers?
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