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  • First SEC Investor Advocate Appointed - 13 February 2014
  • As part of the Dodd-Frank law signed in July 2010, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has set up the Office of the Investor Advocate and appointed the current deputy general counsel for the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), Rick A. Fleming, to head up the new department, starting February 24. The new investor advocacy office aims to educate members of the public who are considering making investments, by making investment information and decision making tools freely available. As stated on their website: "The SEC cannot tell you what investments to make, but we can offer unbiased information about investing." Topics covered by the SEC include Introduction to the Markets; Investing Basics; Researching and Managing Investments; Employment and Retirement; and Life Events.

  • Financial Crisis Accountability on the Cards - 22 August 2013
  • The recently released results of the review of the 2008 financial crisis by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has revealed that federal and state insurance regulators helped to minimize the economic turmoil and maintain general stability in the market. The GAO found that, with a few exceptions, the effects of the 2008 financial crisis on policyholders and insurers were limited. A coalition of state regulators under the banner of the National Association of Insurance Commissions took action during the crisis by insisting on detailed reports from insurers, as well as altering reporting rules and criteria for determining the risk factor of securities.

  • Pre-Dispute Mandatory Arbitration Challenged - 18 April 2013
  • On Wednesday April 17 up to seventeen members of the North American Securities Administrators Association Inc. (NASAA) met with lawmakers in Washington to garner support for ending, or at the very least restricting, the use of pre-dispute mandatory arbitration clauses in client contracts with investment brokers. With these clauses generally being presented as standard procedure, investors may not be aware that they are, in effect, losing their right to use the judicial system in any dispute arising out of agreements entered into with brokers. In other words, they cannot sue a broker who violates the terms of the agreement or neglects to act in the best interests of a client, the investor. Critics of mandatory arbitration clauses note that investors should be given the choice of omitting the clause from an agreement, thereby giving themselves a greater measure of protection should the client/broker relationship go sour.

  • Walter to Replace Schapiro as SEC Chairperson - 28 November 2012
  • As Mary Schapiro prepares to leave her position as the 19th Chairperson of the SEC – U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission – on December 14, her performance in terms of successes and failures is being analyzed in the online and offline press, with much speculation regarding the road forward under her replacement, Elisse Walter. While the two women have often worked cooperatively alongside one another during their Washington-based careers, analysts have noted that they have differing views on some key issues.

  • High-Speed Trading Back in the Spotlight - 9 August 2012
  • In days gone by, the floor of the New York Stock Exchange was crowded with market-makers and other specialists trading, creating a hive of activity and a buzz of excitement. Technology has replaced this scenario with computers, and as high-speed trading continues to move ahead, fortunes can be made or lost in the blink of an eye. While being fairly low profile in the public eye, Knight Capital Group is a major market-maker for the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ stocks, making extensive use of technology programmed to place buy or sell orders based on real-time market activity. Wednesday 1 August saw Knight Capital Group lose $440 million in the space of 30 minutes due to a technical glitch, once again bringing the pros and cons of high-speed trading into the spotlight and prompting a review of past problems caused by this hi-tech trend, such as the 'flash crash' of 2010 and the Facebook IPO debacle.

  • JOBS Act - Easing Regulations for Growth - 5 April 2012
  • Having passed the United States House of Representatives with bipartisan support on March 8 this year, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act – more commonly, and maybe aptly, referred to as the JOBS Act – is awaiting the signature of Barack Obama to pass it into law. The purpose of the Act is to ease various securities regulations, and thereby encourage the funding of small businesses in the United States. The President has already made known his readiness to sign the JOBS Act once it has been passed by both chambers, and analysts are reportedly studying the new legislation with a view to making use of any opportunities it may present to Wall Street investors.

  • Facebook Likely to Delay IPO - 15 September 2011
  • When LinkedIn started trading on the New York Stock Exchange in May this year, speculation was rife that other social media companies would do the same. It had been seven years since Google went public, and investors appeared to be eager to enter the realms of uncharted territory presented by the social media sector of information technology. Other social media companies that were targets of speculation included Twitter, Groupon, Zynga and FaceBook. Certainly, LinkedIn's foray onto Wall Street generated a few surprises as its pre-IPO price climbed to $45, with its first day of trading seeing an intra-day increase to $122.70, before retreating somewhat to close at $94.25 per share.

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