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SEC Enforcement Director Robert Khuzami Jokes About Causing The Market Recovery

By Perry Rod, Published: August 9th, 2009 12:11 PM CDT

In a speech for the New York State Bar, Securities and Exchange Commission Enforcement Director Robert Khuzami made a joke that for some might be more telling that it is funny.  He stated:

"I'm pretty proud of my own 100-day accomplishments. So how have things changed? Before I joined the Division in March, the Dow was struggling around 6500 points. Now the Dow is over 9200. So am I really responsible for a 41% increase in the Dow? I am, and I'd explain it, but it's very complicated. It involves algorithms, and calculus, and a black box and other … stuff. Now, when I ran this speech by my wife, she looked (kind of like some of you out there) a little incredulous. She said, "you're not claiming credit for the stock market, are you? While you're at it, are you also taking credit for the mild hurricane season or the sharp decrease in lethal shark attacks world-wide." Well I am, and I'd explain it, but it's very complicated. It involves algorithms, and calculus, and a black box and other … stuff."

Many have directly blamed the SEC's lack of enforcement of short selling rules and other related regulations as major factors in the stock market collapse.  Mr. Khuzami jokes that he fixed it with "algorithms, and calculus, and a black box and other … stuff," suggesting what he did to be very complicated.  A part of the joke's suggestion seems to be that what he did was actually not that complicated.

Indeed, enforcing the rules should be easy standard policy for the SEC.  But in 2005 the SEC was instead in the business of firing staff who spoke up about the lack of SEC enforcement.  Gary Aguirre testified before Congress that the SEC had a,

"culture of ‘don’t rock the boat,’ the industry does not want ‘boy scouts,’ and if you can be effective with the SEC through your contacts, that is a very valuable asset you can bring to the table."

He suggested that the SEC staff was captured by powerful hedge funds and Wall Street law firms.  In fact, a large number of former SEC staff end up in high salary firms of which they were former regulators.

Jokes are often funny because they are true.  This one might be funny with an audience at the New York State Bar, but don't tell this joke to people who have lost their job or retirement.  They probably won't get it.

What's next?  Will Timothy Geithner and Ben Bernanke joke about creating a new bubble?

Related: GS, DB

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