Mary Jo White faces little pushback in SEC chief nomination

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Mary Jo White built a reputation as a tough prosecutor over her career, which included nine years as a U.S. Attorney in Manhattan and a host of tough cases involving terrorism, organized crime and financial crime.

She's a walking symbol of enforcement competence, which makes her an ideal candidate to head the Securities and Exchange Commission, an organization buffeted by criticism that it stumbled on when it came to the financial crisis and the Bernard Madoff scandal. There will likely be little resistance to her nomination. That she defended the likes of Ken Lewis once she transitioned into private practice will likely be seen as a positive, as she has experience on both sides of the bar. 

"The selection of Ms. White can only be seen as a clear message to Wall Street and Main Street that there is a new, tough sheriff in town. Ms. White is a very experienced and talented former U.S. Attorney and white collar practitioner.  She differs significantly from her immediate predecessors who were career securities regulators," says Thomas Gorman, a partner at Dorsey Whitney.

He added that, "Selecting Ms. White is a message to the markets that the SEC is going to be increasing aggressive in its approach and bringing and resolving enforcement actions. The challenge for Ms. White will be to balance the fact that the SEC is first and foremost a regulatory agency with her prosecutorial background to achieve the right posture and tone going forward for an agency which has moved past is prior difficulties and is moving forward in a positive direction."

She'll hopefully be savvy enough to hire adroitly to fill gaps in her knowledge. I have said for a while now that market structure is an issue crying out for attention by regulators. It will be interesting to hear what she has to say in her confirmation hearings about that and about financial reform in general.

For more:
- here's an overview from the Financial Times

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Linda Schapiro to resign as SEC head
 

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