Regulatory Spillover and Monitoring Frictions at the SEC
56 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2019 Last revised: 1 Jun 2020
Date Written: May 2020
I investigate how the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) monitors firms by analyzing internet downloads of regulatory filings by SEC employees. I find that SEC employees respond to negative financial reporting events, such as restatements and spikes in negative media coverage, by monitoring the peers of focal firms (“Regulatory Spillover”). This is consistent with the SEC using peer information to identify potential violators. However, there is less spillover when peer firms are assigned to different regional or industry offices, even when those offices are located within the same building, suggesting that SEC employees are poor at sharing information across organizational boundaries. Further, firms with names later in the alphabet are less likely to be monitored, indicating that SEC employees use simple heuristics when prioritizing targets. These findings contribute to the literature by exploring the monitoring activities through which the SEC identifies noncompliance and by identifying frictions that impair efficient monitoring.
Keywords: Disclosure Monitoring; Securities & Exchange Commission; Regulatory Spillover; Information Retrieval; Monitoring Frictions
JEL Classification: G18, G38, M4
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation