The Committee will come to order. Today, we are here to consider the nomination of Mr. William Donaldson to be a Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mr. Donaldson, we welcome you.
It is my intention to follow the same procedure that this Committee has used in the past. I will make my opening statement. I will then recognize Chairman Sarbanes for his opening statement, then recognize any of our other colleagues who wish to make opening statements. After Mr. Donaldson is sworn in and makes his statement, we will proceed to questions. I would ask my colleagues to limit their questioning to five minutes, and then have additional rounds of questioning as necessary.
We stand at a critical time in the history of America's capital markets. Our capital markets, which are the envy of the world, have been shaken by scandal and corporate malfeasance. We have all suffered accordingly. Investors have seen trillions of dollars of market capital evaporate.
Despite the swift reaction of this Committee - led by my colleague, Senator Sarbanes - the Congress and the Administration, in passing the reforms embodied in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, investor confidence continues to flag. And the reverberations of this crisis of confidence are being felt beyond Wall Street B its impact is felt throughout our nation's economy and continues to impede a strong economic recovery.
We describe our capital markets with words like "efficient" or "transparent." And it is true B we have the most efficient and transparent markets in the world. But the bedrock of our capital markets is integrity. Without integrity, their can be no such thing as rational investor confidence. And, since our capital markets fuel the engine of economic growth in this country, the growth and strength of our economy relies on investor confidence in the integrity of our markets. And few people have as an important a role to play in safeguarding the integrity of our markets as the Chairman of the SEC.
As the agency charged with investor protection, the SEC has always played a crucial role in ensuring the integrity of our capital markets. By and large, it has been highly successful in that role B ours is the first society in history where equity ownership is commonplace among ordinary citizens.
But recent events have left investors nervous, and morale flagging at the SEC. Rebuilding morale must be a top priority of the next Chairman of the SEC. Today's SEC must be more nimble, more proactive, more efficient than ever before. This will require strength and take-charge leadership at the top. As Wall Street's "Top Cop," Mr. Donaldson, you will have to ensure that our Securities Laws are enforced zealously and without regard for wealth, position or power.
As Chairman, Mr. Donaldson, you will be undertaking a tremendous public trust. We live in world where technology is constantly reshaping the marketplace. The Commission must jealously guard the integrity of our capital markets in order to ensure that in an increasingly global economy, these markets maintain their preeminent position. This will require a firm hand, but also patience, determination and resolve.
Mr. Donaldson, your leadership will be key to rebuilding the faith of investors in our markets. The next Chairman of the SEC will have an incredible opportunity.
Mr. Donaldson, your resume speaks for itself. Your background and experience give you a unique perspective into the challenges that we face today. You have the credibility and standing in Corporate America and on Wall Street to demand the highest standards of professional conduct. Indeed, you have an opportunity to set a new tone for corporate governance and responsibility.
It could be a new day for our capital markets B a new day based on integrity and best practices rather than cynicism and manipulation of loopholes.
I know that my colleagues and I are committed to supporting the SEC in achieving its mission, but the SEC requires strong leadership from within. We will expect you to provide that leadership.