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Roundup: SEC Goes After Little Guys

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Matt Taibbi from the Rolling Stone looked at why the SEC seems to love crushing little guys but let’s huge megabanks do whatever they want.

It’s half sad and half pathetic. My belief, whether accurate or not, is that government agencies are filled with three types of people – those who can’t get a job in private industry, those who don’t want to get a job in private industry, and those who are simply waiting until they can get a job in private industry. So for the SEC, an example private industry job would be on Wall Street. The ones at a regulatory agency who can’t get a job or don’t want to get a job, either can’t or don’t have the motivation to battle the people who they are supposed to regulate. The ones who are waiting until they can get a job don’t have an incentive to fight with their future employers!

They all work towards their incentives though and, as Taibbi has shown, the incentives are all jacked up.

  • I liked JC Penney’s new straight forward pricing but it’s not as profitable as obfuscation, shrouding, and information supression. Red Tape Chronicles looks at why JC Penney’s revenue dropped 20% in the first quarter and customer traffic fell 10%. It’s kind of sad because this is better for us, except we don’t reward it with our wallets. (the scientific paper he cites is worth looking at too, even if you just skim the abstract and introduction)
  • Knicks were fun to watch this year, especially with Linsanity, but the Spurs are playing some frighteningly legit basketball. It’s like they’re the old guys in the rec league who do everything right in playing 110% team basketball.
  • Interesting op-ed piece on why the Chinese flock to American universities – hits the nail on the head with all three points. High standards and high expectations are certainly the norm, parents will often sacrifice everything for their children, and America is still the best place to be.
  • Mikey Rox shares 10 things to look for a thrift store, I’d add baby and children’s clothes to the list. The smaller stuff costs the same as adult clothes and lasts about two months (because the kid gets too big), so why pay the premium? Also, babies make a mess and stain stuff all the time. Staining a $10 shirt sucks, staining a 50 cent shirt is awesome.

Have a great weekend!

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15 Responses to “Roundup: SEC Goes After Little Guys”

  1. Texas Wahoo says:

    I am not sure if you are joking, but I think your views on those that work in the Federal government are way off.

    • Cynthia Moak says:

      I agree with his estimate. There are other benes too. They don’t get fired, they have built in raises, the perks are huge, they can engage in fraud and usually don’t get caught and if they are caught their inept fellow government employees are the ones investigating them and the retirement scheme is far superior to a private sector pension plan. : )

    • Jim says:

      I wasn’t joking, I worked in that industry and met plenty of people who work at government agencies. The three types I listed weren’t all negative or disparaging, there’s nothing wrong with someone who doesn’t want a job in private industry. There’s something to be said about working a more casual schedule.

      • Texas Wahoo says:

        I guess I know enough people who work in the government who work crazy hours for the government that I am dubious of any broad statements about hours or ease of work.

        As for the built in raises, the government has frozen raises for three straight years. On the other hand, my industry job has built in raises for each class year.

      • Texas Wahoo says:

        I was perhaps reading the disparagement into the comments, as the same three categories could be said to apply to those in the private sector: those who can’t get a job in the public sector, those who don’t want to get a job in the public, and those who are waiting until they get a job in the public sector.

  2. Shorebreak says:

    I disagree with your assertion that the SEC is filled with “those who can’t get a job in private industry, those who don’t want to get a job in private industry, and those who are simply waiting until they can get a job in private industry. The SEC is a revolving door for Wall Streeters. The foxes are guarding the hen house.

    • Jim says:

      First, your argument that the SEC is a revolving door for Wall Streeters agrees with my statement. Second, how many Wall Streeters go back to the SEC after they’ve gotten a job at an investment firm? The number is likely very small, the pay at the SEC isn’t anywhere near the pay at an investment bank. So if they are going back, as you say in a revolving door, they couldn’t hack it… otherwise they’d still be there. You think someone leaves a Goldman Sachs, works at the SEC, just to help Goldman? No way.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Come on, man! You are better than stooping to negatively stereotyping all government employees. If you have problems with the SEC, stick to the SEC. The broad-based bashing only erodes your credibility.

  4. Rusty says:

    Not to hijack the comments with sports, but the Spurs are no longer in the playoffs. I guess the old rec guys could only last so long. Go Thunder!

  5. Matt says:

    “government agencies are filled with three types of people – those who can’t get a job in private industry, those who don’t want to get a job in private industry, and those who are simply waiting until they can get a job in private industry”
    This is really stupid, some people actually want to make a difference and although government agencies pay less benefits can make up for that.

  6. I do think it’s a bit harsh to suggest that those in government are some how less valid than those in the private sector. However I do agree that some that work in government are simply out for an easy life comparatively.

  7. Linsanity says:

    These comments are Linsane!

    Oooooooo….yeah.

  8. Rob says:

    Jim, I enjoy reading your newsletters but your assessment of government employees was disturbing to me. I am a federal employee in the Department of Defense and work with many highly qualified and accountable civil servants. Unfortunately, what we often read or hear in the news media, or listen to from friends and neighbors interactions with government employees is the fraud, waste, and abuse (read recent GSA Conference scandal) that occurs or the ‘waste of oxygen’ agents we encounter at some nameless government agency’s customer service counter. Those reports and our interactions certainly shape our perceptions of government employees (occassionaly I wonder if employee x would survive in a “less protected” work environment). What, in my opinion, happens more often, but is not publicized, is the good noble work performed by civil servants. As for the ‘perks’ of civil service there are some – I “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…”, I support the warfighter (being prior service Army myself), and, as a financial strategic planner, I seek to improve the efficient allocation of valuable taxpayer resources. But then again the recent verbal attacks against federal employees from President Obama and members of Congress; continued pay freezes; freezes on incentive pay and awards; freezing promotions for employees hired in house (but not from the private sector); hiring freezes (hire one for every three that leave civil service); increase retirement contributions to decrease interest rates on federally subsidized student loans; the looming cloud of sequestration and its impact on the DOD, choosing to remain a civil servant is akin to remaining in an abusive relationship.

    • Jim says:

      I bet you’ve also seen quite a bit of waste as well, it’s unavoidable with how large the system is. I’ve been in offices where they purchased flat screen TVs that hung on the wall just because they had to spend the budget. If they didn’t, they’d get a cut the following year.


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