A stock market reform bill expanding the Securities and Exchange Commission's powers to monitor major Wall Street players and intervene during stock market emergencies was passed unanimously by the House yesterday on a voice vote.
House passage of the Market Reform Act of 1990, which the Senate had approved on Tuesday, sends the bill to the White House for President Bush's signature.
The bill, agreed to after a month of discussions between House and Senate staffers, will allow the SEC to regulate program trading -- the controversial computer-driven trading strategy -- during times of extreme market turbulence.
In addition, the compromise reform bill contains provisions passed separately by both the House and Senate earlier this year.
One expands the authority of the SEC chairman to shut down the securities markets, with presidential permission, in times of market emergency. Previously, only the president could order a trading halt.
The bill also:
Requires large securities traders to report their market positions to the SEC.
Mandates coordinated clearance and settlement of stocks, options and futures contracts between the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Requires the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve Board, the CFTC and SEC to report annually to Congress on their efforts to protect the integrity of the markets.
Gives the SEC authority to assess the financial health of the parent holding companies of broker-dealers.
Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc., the one-time junk bond giant of Wall Street, collapsed in February after the failure of its parent company, which SEC officials had no authority to monitor.
The original House version, the Securities Markets Reform Act passed in June, contained a provision giving the SEC authority to limit program trading "during periods of extraordinary market volatility" -- sharp changes in stock prices.
The original Senate version, the Market Reform Act that passed last month, did not have a program-trading provision.
Critics of program trading blame it for worsening the 1987 stock market crash and the 190-point market drop last Oct. 13.