By Christopher Matthews
SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro announced yesterday that she would be stepping down from her role in December, marking the end of one of the most eventful four-year periods in the SEC’s history.
When she assumed the Chairmanship of the SEC in January of 2009, the reputation of America’s financial regulatory apparatus was at its nadir. For more than a decade, regulators had failed to react to a growing real estate bubble, the bursting of which precipitated the worst financial crisis the country had seen in generations. Then, in December 2008, Bernie Madoff was arrested and charged with criminal securities fraud related to a decades-old ponzi scheme that he had operated right under the noses of the SEC, the most powerful and prominent securities regulator in the country. Meanwhile, large financial institutions were being bailed out with taxpayer money because the regulatory system had failed to require those firms to hold enough rainy-day capital.