Securities and Exchange Commission

Epic Fail
November 05, 2008

As investors all around the world ran scared this past month, their panic was about the only thing easy to understand. The global financial system was collapsing and almost nobody could say--in plain English--what exactly was fueling such a gigantic crisis. Not the president, who offered insipid generalities; nor the presidential candidates, who stuck to old themes like earmarks, taxes, and deregulation.

Gordon And Kvaal On How America Will Change
October 13, 2008

In an effort to start making sense of what is an indisputably confusing situation, we asked some of the most thoughtful people we know the question: How will America change as a result of the economic downturn? Here are Robert Gordon and James Kvaal, senior fellows at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.   Hard economic times usually hit not only our wallets, but also our spirits. Charitable giving goes down. And as Benjamin Friedman has explained, racial tension and nativist sentiment go up.

Visible Hands
October 08, 2008

When Hank Paulson, a successful investment banker turned Republican treasury secretary, caps his career by nationalizing two financial institutions so large that even Norman Thomas in his socialist heyday would have paused before taking them onto the government's balance sheet, and a conservative central banker agrees to bail out an insurance company to the tune of $85 billion, you know that a fundamental change is underway. The day when that engine of capitalism, the financial market, was allowed to operate more or less unimpeded by government has passed.

Listen To Those Who Got It Right
September 26, 2008

Anyone who dug my post from last night should check out the op-ed in this morning's Wall Street Journal from former SEC Chair Arthur Levitt and former SEC Chief Accountant Lynn Turner. They do a much better job than I could of explaining the importance of mark-to-market accounting in reviving investor trust: "It's like your personal balance sheet," they write.

The Most Important Fight Over The Paulson Plan
September 25, 2008

A colleague of mine likes to characterize the debate over the Paulson plan as a heavyweight title fight with a lot of undercards. He's right--the crisis has merely brought to a head a wide spectrum of battles that have been brewing for years between regulators and financial interests.

The End of Big Oil
February 27, 2008

When historians one day dissect the long arc of humankind's use of fossil fuels, they may very well zero in on October 9, 2006, as a turning point for Big Oil. That's when it became clear that the major oil companies--the giants that had survived numerous predicted extinctions and gone on to ever-greater profit and influence--were undergoing a tectonic shift and would either reinvent themselves or die.

Home Page
May 02, 2005

The Washington, D.C., headquarters of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) sits on a narrow, triangular plot at the intersection of New Jersey Avenue and First Street, just a few blocks northwest of the Capitol. Completed in October, the twelve-story tower is wrapped in a curtain of blue-green glass; standing across the street, one notices less the building than the sharpness with which it reflects its surroundings. And it is so narrow that, looking back at it from the intersection of New Jersey and Massachusetts Avenues, a few blocks north, one barely notices anything at all.

Bull Run
March 22, 2004

WE ARE TOLD we live in the New Economy, an economy of computers and fiber-optic cables, capital without borders, and competition on a global scale. This is mature market capitalism, and its promise for human advancement—when combined with democracy and individual freedom—is rightly touted at every turn. But, if our economy is a creature of the twenty-first century, our thinking about government’s role in the economy is mired in the nineteenth. Two essentially opposite viewpoints dominate today’s debate.

May 19, 2003

Few have ever accused Morgan Stanley, the white-shoe investment bank formed in 1935 by partners of the imperial J.P. Morgan & Co., of being solicitous toward the investing masses. And that hauteur was on full display last week. On April 29, appearing at the UBS Warburg Global Financial Services Conference, at Manhattan's gilded Pierre Hotel, Morgan Stanley CEO Philip Purcell was asked about the $1.4 billion "global settlement" that Morgan Stanley and nine other firms had just inked with state and federal regulators.

Street Unwise
February 25, 2002

With ten congressional committees holding hearings on Enron, it's almost impossible for any one member of Congress to distinguish himself on the issue. But that hasn't stopped Senator Jon Corzine from trying. These days the freshman New Jersey Democrat sounds more like Ralph Nader than the former investment-banking pooh-bah he is.