Today, the SEC hosted a roundtable to discuss efforts to increase transparency for investors. This roundtable had been planned for some time, and was originally intended to focus on the SEC's 21st Century Disclosure Initiative. However, the agenda announced on Tuesday placed greater emphasis on the current credit crisis.

The roundtable consisted of two panels. The first panel focused on the technical aspects of the SEC reporting system, and whether it has kept pace with the market. The second panel focused on the modernization of the system, and how to ensure that investors receive high-quality disclosure information.

With respect to the financial crisis, Chairman Cox began the roundtable with prepared remarks highlighting the reaction of the SEC to the current financial crisis. He specifically noted that the Division of Enforcement has “undertaken a nationwide investigation of potential fraud by issuers of securities in financial institutions, and manipulation of those securities through means including abusive short selling and the intentional spreading of false information.”

Continuing in this vein, Chairman Cox spoke of the need for immediate legislative action to address the “regulatory black hole” for credit default swaps. Currently, Chairman Cox said, “the Commission's only authority with respect to over-the-counter credit default swaps is limited to enforcing the antifraud laws, such as those against insider trading." Chairman Cox first discussed the need for regulation of the CDS market on September 28, 2008 when testifying before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

The archived web cast of the roundtable will soon be available to the public.