Good afternoon. I am deeply honored to appear before this distinguished Committee to seek your support for my continued service as SEC Chairman. I am very grateful to the esteemed Senior Senator from New York, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, for accompanying me here today and introducing me so graciously.
Please allow me to introduce you to my wife, Marylin. Her support and encouragement and participation are the foundation of my working life and my family life. With her are six other very important people in our lives: our son, Art and his wife Jamie- our daughter Lauri, her husband Michael Friedland and their children, our grandchildren, Matthew and William. Also joining me today are three of my fellow SEC Commissioners, whose collective wisdom and dedication is a large part of what makes the Commission great.
Since 1993, it has been my privilege to lead the agency responsible for protecting America's investors and enhancing its capital markets. Much has happened during those years: we have seen a historic market rise and a historic market fall- we've seen the leadership of Congress pass from the Democrats to the Republicans- we've seen budget cuts and a budget surplus; and we've seen Americans in record numbers leave the safety of insured bank accounts for the risks and rewards of the markets.
These changes have brought many challenges. And yet, I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every single day of my tenure - indeed, for this capitalist and entrepreneur, service at the SEC has been the greatest adventure and the highest honor of my professional life. I thank you deeply for that.
For the better part of five years, we have worked together on behalf of a system of capital formation that continues to be the envy of the world. A system able to include both dealer and auction markets while allowing individual investors to participate on a level playing field with the world's largest and most powerful institutions.
Together we have debated and discussed issues, proposals, and legislation of great consequence for our economy - and we've done so against a backdrop of increasing globalization; a proliferation of complex, important, but volatile investment products; and the unprecedented growth of technology-driven trading systems.
Together we have addressed critical and potentially divisive issues such as market structure, circuit breakers, financial modernization, litigation reform, accounting standards, and preparing for the millennium. Always, always, the Commission has worked closely with this Committee and its staff to strengthen the investor protections that are the foundation of a marketplace known for its integrity, trusted for its transparency, and distinguished for its commitment to protecting investors.
Although we may approach some issues from different perspectives, I have never doubted for a single moment that our overriding motivation was to protect, nurture, and enhance the system and markets we have inherited. Having spent nearly forty years in the private sector, I have made one word the touchstone
of my service as a regulator, and that word is "balance." The power, vibrancy and entrepreneurial spirit of our nation's markets must not be burdened with redundant, overly costly, or superfluous regulation. And yet, at the same time, our brokerage firms, self-rdgulatory organizations and investment companies must be held to the highest standards of professionalism and integrity.
I've worked to maintain a balance between market forces and regulatory guideposts by using consensus whenever possible, and rulemaking and legislation only where absolutely necessary.
If the agency has responded successfully to the dynamic changes of recent years, it is due to the dedication and professionalism of the SEC staff. The reform of our municipal bond market, the raising of standards for retail brokers, the record numbers of international companies on U.S. exchanges, and the major enforcement actions we've completed were only made possible by the dedicated efforts of an incredibly talented and energetic staff.
Many of these issues will continue to attract our attention in the months and years ahead. I suspect that market dynamics will call for emphasis on technology, market structure, and closer coordination with our international counterparts. With the market breaking records at almost every turn; with mergers of giant enterprises proliferating- and with record sums of money flowing into mutual funds, our mission is more imperative than ever before. Together, we must maintain public trust. Together, we must balance competing interests that are part of all competitive and growing markets. Together, we must seek market solutions before rulemaking or legislation.
You and I have inherited the most liquid, transparent, and dynamic markets in the history
of the world. This is a precious legacy that belongs not to us but to the American people. I
pledge to you that, if you see fit to confirm me, I will continue to do all in my power to honor this
heritage. I pledge that I will continue to work closely with Congress, the private sector, and
investors to protect and enhance our capital markets and to find solutions to important issues, no
matter how divisive they may be. Most of all, I pledge that I will continue to place the interests of
investors above all others - and to preserve the trust that makes America's markets the greatest in
the world. Thank you.
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