"The big thieves hang the little ones."
Matt Taibbi says here, having quoted others like Bill Black about the same situation in great detail...
But in fairness to the SEC, this is hardly the case of a single regulator falling into porn-surfing indolence while they wait for another turn through the Wall Street revolving door.
The SEC is just another branch of regulatory incompetence and capture in good company with the CFTC and the FED, which gained even more regulatory powers in the recent 'reforms.' There are a few good regulators but they tend to be isolated and beleaguered. The sad case of Brooksley Born was a good example of how bad regulatory policy drives out the good.
This non-specific failure implies that there is much more than an SEC organizational or funding problem, and more likely systemic failure involving misplaced priorities and conflicts of interest that flow down from the Congress and the Administration among others.
I would like to think that the people are getting a bit tired of handsomely paid and highly comped corporate and political 'leaders' who, when the time comes, don't know anything about anything that is surely within their direct responsibility. There are little to no downsides for failure if you are on the right side of the glass ceiling and a vetted member of the players club, a master of the universe.
And that moral hazard may be the most powerful attraction and incentive to bad behavior of all. Power attracts the corruptible, without respect to race, gender, or creed.
SEC: Taking on Big Firms is 'Tempting,' But We Prefer Whaling on Little Guys...
By Matt Taibbi
If you want to see a perfect example of how completely broken our regulatory system is, look no further than a speech that Daniel Gallagher, one of the S.E.C.’s commissioners, recently gave in Denver, Colorado.
It’s a speech whose full lunacy is hard to grasp without some background.
It’s by now been well-established that the S.E.C.’s performance in policing Wall Street before, after, and during the crash has been comically inept. It would be putting it generously to say that the top cop on the financial services beat has demonstrated particular incompetence with regard to investigations of high-profile targets at powerhouse banks and financial companies. A less generous interpretation would be that the agency is simply too afraid, too unwilling, or too corrupt to take on the really dangerous animals in this particular jungle.
The S.E.C.’s failure to make even one case against a high-ranking executive involved in the mass frauds leading to the 2008 crash – compare this to the comparatively much smaller and less serious S&L crisis twenty years earlier, when the government made 1,100 criminal cases and sent 800 bank officials to jail – became so conspicuous that by the end of last year, the “No prosecutions of top figures” idea became an accepted meme in mainstream news media coverage of the economic crisis.
The S.E.C. in recent years has failed in almost every possible way a regulator can fail to police powerful criminals. Failure #1 was that it repeatedly fell down on the job even when alerted to problems at big companies well ahead of time by insiders. Six months before Lehman Brothers collapsed, setting off a chain reaction of losses that crippled the world economy, one of Lehman’s attorneys, Oliver Budde, contacted the S.E.C. to warn them that there were problems with the company’s accounting; the agency blew him off. There were similar brush-offs of insiders with compelling information in cases involving Moody’s, Chase, and both of the major Ponzi scheme scandals, i.e. the Bernie Madoff and Allen Stanford/CIA cases....
Read the rest here.