by Pam Martins and Russ Martins, wallstreetonparade:
When we created the website for Wall Street On Parade, it took us about 30 minutes to add a free plug-in function so that our readers could search the text of every article we have ever written. (See Search box in upper right-hand corner of our menu at the top of this website.) But at Wall Street’s top cop, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), if one wants to search corporate filings, one is limited to a four-year text search. This bizarre restriction inhibits investigative journalists from capably doing their job and connecting dots.
This might sound like a small complaint were it not part of a larger pattern of technological failures by the SEC which have allowed Wall Street firms to run amok for decades.
The biggest technological failure, of course, is the SEC’s inability to launch a Consolidated Audit Trail (CAT) over the 83 years of the SEC’s existence in order to spot manipulative or illegal trades by some of the most highly sophisticated trading houses in the world. While JPMorgan brags about having “more software developers than Google, and more technologists than Microsoft,” and Goldman Sachs is hiring the best Russian coders, Wall Street’s top cop is still driving a horse and buggy.
The CAT, if it is ever implemented, would show every trade in U.S. stock and option markets, including when it occurred and at what firm it originated. But don’t hold your breath.
Adding to the evidence that the SEC is technologically incompetent by design is what its own attorneys have said about its seemingly intentional failure to prosecute.
James Kidney retired from the SEC in 2014 following a quarter century as a trial lawyer there. He delivered a blistering speech at his retirement party on how SEC leadership functions. Not long thereafter, American Lawyer published excerpts from 2,000 pages of documents it had obtained from the SEC under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, which indicated that Kidney had pushed the SEC to investigate up the chain of command in the Goldman Sachs Abacus 2007-AC1 investment scam. (Goldman Sachs had allowed a hedge fund, John Paulson & Co., to bet against the Abacus deal despite knowing that Paulson had helped to select investments in the deal that were likely to fail.