The Sec as a Lawmaker: Choices About Investor Protection in the Face of Uncertainty

36 Pages Posted: 28 Nov 2006  

Donald C. Langevoort

Georgetown University Law Center

Date Written: 2006


The SEC is often praised or criticized for the law it makes. But relatively little scholarly effort has gone into trying to understand how or why it acts as it does. Indeed, critics of the SEC tend to adopt one of two fairly inconsistent behavioral theories: either that the Commission is readily captured by external political interests or that it behaves with a great deal of internal slack so that its decisions reflect judgmental biases and heuristics. On the other hand, those more inclined to support SEC rulemaking have not adequately explained how or why the Commission would likely make good law in the face of either external pressure or internal heuristics. My paper is an effort to stimulate a richer institutional understanding of the work of the SEC by looking more closely at both the external and internal accounts, and considering some possibilities for synthesis. The recent mutual fund corporate governance rulemaking is examined as a useful case study into how the Commission tries to balance costs and benefits in the face of considerable uncertainty.

Suggested Citation

Langevoort, Donald C., The Sec as a Lawmaker: Choices About Investor Protection in the Face of Uncertainty (2006). Georgetown Law and Economics Research Paper No. 947510. Available at SSRN: or

Donald C. Langevoort (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States
202-662-9832 (Phone)
202-662-9412 (Fax)

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