Levitt Ought Not to Talk
It's a classic move: deposed leaders and bureaucrats hitting the road to practice a little revisionist history. Now, Arthur Levitt is discussing how things would be “better” if only he remained at the helm of the SEC — or if his successor would have maintained the prior agenda (The Investors' Champion, July).
So, the financial excesses now plainly visible are not laid at the feet of Mr. Levitt. Instead, he is treated to softball interviews and glowing profiles. I was shocked to see Registered Rep. join the lovefest.
One could quickly forget, listening to Mr. Levitt, that he held the most powerful securities enforcement office in the world while many apparent excesses were allowed to flourish. Take his handling of Cendant, Sunbeam and Waste Management. What happened to those fraudsters? The books were restated and that was that. It seems that the current administration is now being abused for not being tough enough. Well, what about Mr. Levitt?
Mr. Levitt's story is: “If only other people had listened to me!” In my opinion, he wasted his time focusing on small-minded fee debates and on expanding regulatory authority on minor stuff. He conveniently forgets to tell you journalists (and you don't hold his feet to the fire) that the current SEC chairman inherited big problems because of Levitt's own failings. In the Cendant case, after four years, only three underlings have agreed to testify, and the major players seem no closer to prosecution. Where was the sanctimonious handwringing at that time, or even now for that matter?
Your story should have profiled him as an ineffectual and failed SEC chairman who wasted his opportunity to protect broker or public interests (they are one in the same in this and many offices across the country) on any number of major issues that we address today. Mr. Levitt was largely a creature of the old order as opposed to any real reformer or “champion.” The demagoguery of Mr. Levitt is a mile thick.
Raymond James Financial