I was listening to the US Senate Banking Committee Hearing on the Bernard Madoff investigation last Thursday and was thoroughly entertained by the dry delivery of Harry Markopolis, a financial investigator who pulls no punches – he warned the SEC about Madoff in 1999. I don’t know whether he is the real deal or not but he cuts to the chase which is refreshing after listening to endless govspeak by the SEC Enforcement Division Director and SEC Compliance Acting Director.
At about the 02:14:00 mark, it starts to get entertaining and a reminder of how slow government can be in responding to a much faster moving private sector. Remember this is one of the agencies that provided oversight to financial institutions that created complex financial instruments for the mortgage market that preceeded the credit crunch last year. Markopolis said the best tool the SEC has to prevent this from happening again is the “Pink Slip” and fire half the SEC staff. While I don’t know the details well enough to comment whether this is reasonable, I find his directness refreshing.
Markopolis chirped out one of many homespun homilies at the hearing including (02:17:09):
It’s Hard To Soar Like An Eagle
When You Are Surrounded By Turkeys.
He said this at the table with the SEC! …in front of the US Senate Banking Committee! Wow!
Incidentally, Benjamin Franklin sort of suggested the Wild Turkey be the national bird instead of the Bald Eagle.
Who said CSPAN had to be dull?
Sorry, but one other tool is essential before the “pink slip” can have any effectiveness.
The SEC and other regulatory agencies need protection from the politicians in Congress and the Administration. Never again can we allow the institutions that are conceived and staffed to detect and intervene in unsound practices to be eviscerated based on some idealogical notion of fairness to the market.
I’ll stick with the raptor although the turkey may be a better metaphor.