Street Cop: Mary Jo White

When Mary Jo White was appointed Chair of the S.E.C. in January of this year, there was Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 5.09.37 PMa great deal of concern as to whether she was a proper choice, given her most recent position as a senior partner and head of the group at Debevoise & Plimpton representing the types of malefactors she would be called on to regulate at the S.E.C. Two New Yorker staff members commented on that choice in their blogs at that time. The title of John Cassidy’s blog is “Two reasons why Mary Jo White is a bad choice for the S.E.C.” James Surowiecki, in his blog, asserted that White’s most important task was “to make the S.E.C. a vibrant and active player in maintaining the legitimacy of the country’s financial markets”.

Nicholas Lemann, a staff writer for the New Yorker, does a thorough, thoughtful and analytical review in the Nov. 11 issue of her background and of performance to date at the S.E.C. The central question, debated in the article, is whether, as Lemann puts it, “Is Wall Street a vibrant, secure, and trustworthy industry once you get rid of the bad actors, or does it require tight systemic control by the government and does Mary Jo White have the right answer?”

Although you are likely to guess the unfortunate right answer, the article is fascinating and well worth reading..

Fred Rubinstein

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