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Securities Laws as Foreign Policy

35 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2014 Last revised: 31 Aug 2017

Karen E. Woody

Kelley School of Business, Indiana University

Date Written: April 2, 2014


The SEC was founded in 1934 and bestowed by Congress with a three-pronged mission: (a) protecting investors; (b) maintaining fair, orderly, and efficient markets; and (c) facilitating capital formation. Markedly absent from this congressional mandate is any administrative authority or charge to engage in international, diplomatic, or human rights-oriented goals. Instead, the focus of the mandate is the creation and preservation of market integrity to assure investors that their investments are safe. Despite this clear, financial-based mission of the SEC, Congress has co-opted the agency and its regulatory resources to achieve decidedly non-financial, extraterritorial goals related to foreign policy. This article analyzes three statutory provisions that represent congressional misappropriation of the SEC’s resources and expertise: (1) the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act; (2) the conflict minerals disclosure requirement of Dodd-Frank; and (3) the extractive industries payment disclosure requirement of Dodd-Frank. Using the economic theory of opportunity cost, this article explores the inherent risks in an agency operating outside of its mission and expertise, arguing that the risks depend on the amount of authority granted to the agency and the tasks involved in enforcement.

Keywords: securities, administrative, agency, foreign policy, economics

Suggested Citation

Woody, Karen E., Securities Laws as Foreign Policy (April 2, 2014). 15 Nev. L. J.297 (2014). Available at SSRN:

Karen E. Woody (Contact Author)

Kelley School of Business, Indiana University ( email )

1309 East Tenth Street
Indianapolis, IN 47405-1701
United States

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