SEC Pick Jay Clayton Promises To Do His Job

What else would you expect from a Goldman(ish) guy?
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Wait, what? (Sullivan & Cromwell)

(Sullivan & Cromwell)

With everything else going on in Washington, it's comforting that some things remain as predictable as ever. The Trump team choosing Goldman types for big administration positions, for one. Or the usual roster of liberals – Warren, Sanders, etc – crying foul over that pick's “years hobnobbing with these giant Wall Street bankers” and “his career providing get-out-of-jail free cards to Wall Street.” This is all followed, we can probably assume, by that candidate's eventual confirmation. It's a comforting song and dance in these unstable times.

Securities and Exchange Commission chairman-designate Jay Clayton is proving to be a reliable partner in the do-si-do. Not only has he brought the right resume and inspired the correct form of protest, he has even pledged to do the exact things an SEC chair is supposed to do. From his planned confirmation hearing comments:

I am 100 percent committed to rooting out any fraud and shady practices in our financial system. I recognize that bad actors undermine the hard-earned confidence that is essential to the efficient operation of our capital markets. I pledge to you and the American people that I will show no favoritism to anyone.

Though, to be fair, committing to the basic mission of the SEC actually marks something of a departure from other Trump appointees, who have typically been keen to demolish the agencies they've been tapped to lead. Clayton has more modest ambitions – namely, helping IPO bankers spend less time playing solitaire:

One last comment: For over 70 years, the U.S. capital markets have been the envy of the world. Our markets have allowed our businesses to grow and create jobs. Our markets have provided a broad cross-section of America the opportunity to invest in that growth, including through pension funds and other retirement assets. In recent years, our markets have faced growing competition from abroad. U.S. - listed IPOs by non-U.S. companies have slowed dramatically. More significantly, it is clear that our public capital markets are less attractive to business than in the past. As a result, investment opportunities for Main Street investors are more limited. Here, I see meaningful room for improvement.

He might have some friends on that front.

Clayton faces the Senate Banking Committee at 9:30 ET Thursday. Tune in for the inevitable sparring between him and a lady with whom he used to share a college campus.

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