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Text of SEC Chair's Remarks to Congress

  Securities  -   POSTED: 2008/02/14 13:07

Text of Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox's opening remarks to the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday, as provided by the SEC:

Chairman Dodd, Senator Shelby, and Members of the Committee: Thank you for the opportunity to update you on the work of the Securities and Exchange Commission in light of recent market events. Beginning last summer, U.S. and overseas markets have been roiled by the deterioration of credit and liquidity conditions in the U.S. residential mortgage market, especially the subprime portion of that market. As mortgage delinquencies rose, other financial instruments tied to the value of those mortgages declined in value, placing pressure on large financial institutions — both those that had packaged and marketed these securities and those that had purchased them based, at least in part, on the high credit ratings. The resulting large losses for some market participants, the concern in the markets about the future performance of a range of complex structured finance instruments, and the more generalized concern about the effects on credit markets overall have led to a more risk-averse environment, and have contributed to a slowdown in the rate of the nation's economic growth.

For the SEC, these recent market difficulties have posed a number of challenges. In addressing them, the Commission has worked closely with the other members of the President's Working Group on Financial Markets — including Secretary Paulson and Chairman Bernanke, who are testifying with me here today. We have also worked closely with our international regulatory counterparts, a reflection of the global impact that the U.S. market events have had, and the increasingly interconnected nature of today's worldwide capital markets.

The Commission's priorities in using the powers within our jurisdiction are to protect investors, keep our markets healthy and vibrant, and promote capital formation. Given the scope and complexity of the issues connected to the problems in the subprime securities market, the Commission's efforts in this area have involved nearly every major SEC division and office, and every area of emphasis — including monitoring systemic risk, guarding against market abuses, and clarifying the application of accounting rules concerning the restructuring of mortgages. To coordinate the efforts of all of the Commission's Divisions and Offices, Erik Sirri, the Director of the Division of Trading and Markets, is leading an agency-wide Task Force composed of senior leadership from each of the relevant disciplines within the SEC.


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