The Securities and Exchange Commission is trying to enter the computer age: It has asked for suggestions on how to make the thousands of corporate documents it receives each year available at the push of a button to analysts, stockholders and its own staff.
Annual reports, stock prospectuses and tender-offer filings are now delivered to the ageny in paper form and then converted into microfiche.
Scores of market watchers now spend their days in the SEC's public reference room awaiting and copying filings, then calling in the information to their offices.
The hours spent in this research can make a critical difference when major takeover battles are in progress or when other important events that could affect stock prices occur.
To end this tedious and costly process, the agency is seeking contractors to devise--at no cost to the agency--a prototype system that would allow direct access to SEC documents from computer terminals anywhere in the country.
The information is now available electronically only by subscribing to data collection services.
The agency is not sure whether such a system would be supported by filing fees, user fees or both. PAPERWORK CHANGES . . . The SEC has joined federal bank regulators in requiring more disclosure of foreign loans and potentially risky investments in the United States.
Under a proposal made last week, bank holding companies would have to give a country-by-country accounting of their lending when loans to a specific country exceed 1 percent of the company's total loans.
The bank holding companies would also be required to include in their stockholder reports charts showing how much of their portfolio is at risk.
To reduce paperwork, money market funds will no longer be required to confirm a transaction immediately, but may wait until the monthly statement.
They will also be allowed to express what they pay customers on the basis of annual yield, rather than the rate paid during the past seven days. BANKS VERSUS BROKERS . . . Competition between banks and brokerage firms to get into each other's business is so ferocious and devious that the Comptroller of the Currency felt compelled on April 5 to declare a moratorium on the chartering of "nonbank banks," a loophole that let the securities industry enter banking.
Not to be outdone, the Securities Industry Association last week called the action one-sided and asked for a ban on "nonbroker brokers."
In a letter to the comptroller, SIA declared, "If nonbank financial service firms are to be barred from establishing a limited type of national bank, it would seem only fair to prohibit national banks from creating or acquiring discount brokerage firms." COMINGS AND GOINGS . . . Former Supreme Court Justice Arthur J. Goldberg has been appointed to the SEC's blue ribbon panel reviewing tender offer regulations. Also named was Jeffrey B. Bartell, a former securities commissioner of Wisconsin. . . . Joel Goldberg, director of the division of investment management, has resigned, effective April 30.