After Schapiro's Exit, the Media Takes Stock and Looks Ahead
News summary by MFWire's editors
After yesterday's news that Mary Schapiro is stepping down from her post as SEC chairman, with Elisse Waltertaking over to finish her term, reporters hurried to write Schapiro's legacy and to ponder the agency's future. Here's MFWire's roundup of the coverage.
Reuters' first story on Schapiro's departure gives a favorable assessment of her tenure, saying that she "helped revive a moribund agency." The report quotes former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt: "I think she saved the SEC, which was close to extinction."
A second Reuters story predicts deadlock at the agency. New commissioner Walter will have to work around a "legal straitjacket" of heightened rules requirements and a divided, four-person commission. On money funds, the story quotes an analyst who thinks Walters may be willing to compromise with the industry, and quoted a speech Walter delivered this past March on MMF reform, in which she said she wanted "a process of constructive engagement instead of one of unconstructive disengagement."
The Wall Street Journal's first story on Schapiro's early exit gives a sober, on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand analysis of her tenure, balancing her agressive enforcement against her failure to tighten money fund rules.
The Journalinterviewed Schapiro on Monday, allowing her to reflect on "the past few turbulent years." She said her biggest failure was not managing to get self-funding for the agency, and said that she thinks money fund reform will eventually go through, now that the FSOC has taken the issue up.
The Journal also has a scrupulous review of Schapiro's regulatory initiatives and how they played out.
The WSJ's fourth story on Schapiro's departure looks at her potential successors (Walter has said she doesn't want to remain at the agency after her current term ends), noting that the Obama administration is weighing whether to appoint a regulator or someone with industry experience.
Forbes' take isn't your usual look-back-look-forward article. Reporter Halah Touryalai says it doesn't matter who gets appointed to replace Schapiro, since the agency's "pathetic budget of roughly $1.3 billion" ensures its toothlessness.
If Forbes' take has you feeling depressed about our regulators' ability to police the markets, try The Nation -- and this has got to be the first time MFWire has linked to The Nation. Contributor George Zornick sees the dawn of a new age of agressive enforcement, writing that Schapiro's departure "creates an opportunity to vigorously pursue a new era at the agency of tough enforcement and the implementation of strong new rules on Wall Street behavior."
The Huffington Post says Schapiro was "not a total failure" as commissioner, since she did not allow the agency to "become totally useless on her watch."
And industry groups chimed in with statements on Schapiro's tenure.
FINRA put out a politely complimentary, if anodyne, statement. CEO Richard Ketchum said that "Chairman Schapiro took over the SEC at an extremely challenging time," and through her efforts she "boosted agency morale and streamlined the Commission's processes."
The ICI's statement is a tactful goodbye. The trade group is "grateful for [Schapiro's] dedication in strengthening protections for investors and the functioning of markets." Behold the olive branch: "While we disagreed with Chairman Schapiro on some issues, we have immense respect for her commitment to public service and the interests of investors."
The MSRB issued a statement on Schapiro's exit, saying that "municipal securities investors and municipan entities are better served as a result" of her work.