Two House subcommittees, in a report released today, accused the Securities and Exchange Commission and the securities industry of not moving fast enough in congressionally mandated efforts to establish a national market system.
The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and Consumer Protection and Finance held hearings last summer to evaluate the SEC's performance on recommendations made in the Securities Act Amendments of 1975.
The report, based on the hearings, made the following observations:
"The SEC has not vigorously used its authority to facilitate the establishment of a national marketing system." Accusing the securities industry of failing "to take the initiative in this area," the reports call on the SEC to pick up the ball and create such a system.
The report warns that the recent SEC approval of a merger of the nation's major securities clearing corporations may not be consistent with Congress' wishes.
"The SEC's action exacerbates the potential for a monopoly in this area, which would be detrimental to the investing public," the report states.
Broker-dealers for managed accounts who now are permitted to arrange for other broker-dealers to execute transactions of those accounts should not receive compensation for such brokerage arrangements, the report states.
The report said the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board "has done a generally adequate job of developing rules in a difficult and previously unregulated fields."
The MSRB governs the conduct of municipal securities professionals.
The SEC has been "disappointingly slow" in implementing the provision of the 1975 amendments requiring "disclosure of institutional investment managers of their securities holdings.
The report claims that the securities industry "has had two years in which to take the initiative in designing a national market system."
Despite the steps that have been taken, such as the creation of a consolidated tape system, the report says "the congressional expectations that the industry would aggressively design and implement a national market system have not been met."
Specifically, the report calls for a more sophisticated tape system, including the "amount willing to be traded as well as the price."
It also call for an order routing and execution system that would allow broker-dealers to channel orders to specific markets.
Certainly the national market system will not suddenly spring into being a complete entity," the report concedes. "But the evolutionary process must be shepherded by the SEC, which must step in when the pace of progress slackens and use the considerable authority Congress granted it."