The SEC's Plan For The 21st Century: Sunshine

The Securities and Exchange Commission wants you to know stuff. No really, they do. And they have a plan, otherwise known as a “21st Century Disclosure Initiative.”

In a press release Tuesday, the agency called the plan an “ambitious effort to examine fundamental questions about the way the SEC acquires information from public companies, mutual funds, brokers and other regulated entities, and the way it makes that information available to investors and the market.”

In other words: Things haven’t really been working out for us so well up to now.

Commission Chairman Christopher Cox went on to say, “On the 75th anniversary of the SEC, with so much new technology available to improve the quality of information for investors, as well as the way investors acquire it, we’re initiating a broad, introspective look at our business model.”

In other words: Have you dudes checked out this Internet thing? It totally rules!

So, the release said, “the aim of the wide-ranging inquiry will be to outline the attributes of the disclosure system for the future that incorporates technology, the new ways in which investors get their information and recent developments in how companies compile and report the information in their SEC-mandated disclosures.”

In other words: In the future, technically, we want you to know stuff. 

“What hasn’t changed in 75 years is the importance of full disclosure,” Cox continued. “Sunlight remains the best disinfectant for problems in our capital markets. We’ll be examining how to improve the way disclosure works, including tapping the full potential of today’s technology and integrating it seamlessly into our regulatory approach.”

In other words: You capital markets folks, you better swing on by the Piggly Wiggly and pick yourselves up some SPF 45.

But the very best part of this 21st Century Disclosure Initiative is that “it will be undertaken by a dedicated staff of experts to be led by Dr. William D. Lutz of Rutgers University.”

For those of you who do not know Dr. Lutz, he’s a plain-English expert, who from 1995 to 1999 “played an important role in advancing the SEC’s Plain English Initiative by preparing the SEC Plain English Handbook.”

According to Chairman Cox, “Bill Lutz is ideally suited to lead this effort. He will bring an expert and fresh perspective to thinking about the agency’s full-disclosure mission, and how it can best serve the needs of America’s investors.”

In other words: Dr. Lutz does not do press releases.

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