Editor’s Note: Elisse B. Walter
is a Commissioner at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. This post is based on Commissioner Walter’s recent remarks at the Conference on Current Topics in Financial Regulation, which are available here
. The views expressed in the post are those of Commissioner Walter and do not necessarily reflect those of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the other Commissioners, or the Staff.
As you may know, the SEC has recently enhanced its economic firepower, through, for example, significantly increasing the number of PhD economists in the Division of Risk, Strategy, and Financial Innovation. Lately much of the external focus on the role of economic analysis at the SEC has been on cost-benefit analysis – which is certainly an important part of economic analysis. However, it is not the only way that the Commission is using economic analysis in our work. Increasingly, our economists are getting involved earlier and more comprehensively in the rulemaking process, not just to help the Commission weigh the ultimate costs and benefits of our regulatory decisions, but to provide a reasoned framework for making those decisions. Examples include providing up-to-date information about the current state of the markets, and helping us think of alternative ways to meet our regulatory goals.
I believe that these efforts are bearing fruit, and I would like to provide a recent example of a significant regulatory action where, in my view, we used economic analysis effectively to guide our decision-making. This was in our adoption of the rule defining “security-based swap dealer” under Title VII of the Dodd-Frank Act, as part of a joint rulemaking with the CFTC. Further defining the term “security-based swap dealer” was one of the many tasks that Congress assigned to us as part of creating a new regulatory regime for security-based swaps. Congress also mandated that the Commission exempt from the dealer designation an entity that engages in a de minimis quantity of dealing activity. Again, however, Congress left it to us to hammer out the details of what would constitute a de minimis level of dealing activity. Considering that the over the counter derivatives market is still a largely unregulated space, determining an appropriate de minimis level seemed like a daunting task, and the comments we received reflected a diversity of views on what this de minimis level should be.
…continue reading: Using Economic Analysis in SEC Rulemaking