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SEC chief urges middle ground on US market revamp

Fri Nov 5, 2004

WASHINGTON, Nov 5 (Reuters) - The top U.S. markets regulator on Friday warned those who oppose any change in financial market structure that they are not helping regulators to work more closely with the markets.

"Their refusal to confront the problems that must be fixed does not advance" a new collaborative relationship between the markets and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, said SEC Chairman William Donaldson.

At a conference in Florida, Donaldson also called on supporters of "wholesale abandonment of the existing regime" to show more moderation as the SEC works to update the aging inner workings of the markets for new trading technologies.

Wholesale change "could put the very real benefits of our market system at substantial risk and, if unsuccessful, may eventually lead to bigger and more intrusive government involvement," said the former investment banker.

As the SEC considers updating the aging national stock market system, electronic rivals to the New York Stock Exchange are pushing for new rules that would give them more business.

At the same time, the NYSE is trying to defend its dominant position, with the SEC left largely to referee between the two sides and try to protect the rights of investors.

Some institutional investors are complaining about the slowness of order executions on the NYSE trading floor -- the world's last major stock market still dominated by human traders.

In response, the NYSE has been working for months on expanding its faster, automated, electronic Direct+ system.

Donaldson, who was formerly chairman of the NYSE, spoke to the Securities Industry Association's annual meeting in Boca Raton, Florida.



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