Possible delay to market structure reform


When Mary Jo White emerged as the top candidate to become the next chairman of the SEC, I joined others in lauding her.

I wrote that, "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."

But I also added that "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."

As it turns out, some people are taking the view that her appointment will mean an inevitable delay to the push to fix our national market structure.

According to one professional, as noted by Securities Technology Monitor, the uncertainty and delay will even keep institutions from investing and tamp down trading. That may be a stretch. It's not likely that trading volume will be significantly affected one way or the other directly because of her appointment. But the issue of market structure reform is one worth pondering.

I can only hope that White proves to be as good a manager as she was a prosecutor and defense attorney. This is one area in which she'll have to delegate. The best hope is that she finds the perfect person to think through and act on these very thorny issues. To be honest, the market structure reform push seemed to be taking a back seat even before White emerged as the leading candidate for chairman. Hopefully, it'll get back on the front burner soon. -Jim