What the SEC Is:
The SEC is the nickname for the U.S. Securities
and Exchange Commission, which was created in
1934 to restore the publics confidence in the stock market after the Great Depression of 1929. The
first Chairman was Joseph Kennedy, President John Kennedys father.
Today, the SEC consists of five Commissioners who are appointed by the President. They are
supported by 3,100 staff located in 18 offices across the country.
There are four divisions,
- Division of Corporate Finance, which reviews corporate filing
- Division of Market Regulation, which maintains the standards that regulate the stock markets.
- Division of Investment Management, which regulates investment management
companies, including mutual funds.
- Division of Enforcement, which investigates and prosecutes
violations of securities laws and regulations.
What the SEC Does:
Most importantly, the SEC maintains confidence in the U.S. stock market, which is critical to the strong
of the U.S. economy. It does this by providing transparency into the workings of U.S.
companies, so investors can get accurate information about the profitability of the companies in
which they would like to invest.
In this way, investors can determine a fair price for the stock of the
company. Without this transparency, the stock market would be vulnerable to sudden shifts as
hidden information came out. This lack of transparency was the reason for Enrons failure, although
in this case they simply lied on the SEC submissions.
The SEC also assures investor confidence in the markets by prosecuting offenders like Enron, as
well as insider trading, deliberate manipulation of the markets and selling stocks and bonds without
How the SEC Affects the U.S. Economy:
The SEC increases transparency and trust in the U.S. stock market, which makes it the most
sophisticated and popular stock exchange in the world. This attracts much business to U.S. financial
institutions, including banks, investment banks, and legal firms.
It also makes it easier for companies to go public, when they have grown large enough
to need to sell stock to finance their next phase of development. The ease of going public helps
U.S. companies grow larger and faster than those of other countries with less developed markets.
How the SEC Affects You:
The SEC affects you by making it safer for you to buy stocks, bonds and mutual funds. In addition,
by helping the U.S. economy, the SEC contributes to the high standard of living we enjoy today. Not
to sound like a commercial, but thanks to the SEC, there is little chance that we will again experience
a Great Depression.