In times of crisis, including the 2020-21 global pandemic, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has engaged in a type of securities regulation that few scholars have acknowledged, let alone evaluated. Specifically, during recent market crises, the SEC has adopted rules that are temporary, designed to help the securities markets and its participants—both public companies and public investment funds, such as mutual funds and ETFs—weather the crisis at hand but go no further. Once that goal has been accomplished, these rules usually expire, replaced by the permanent rules that they temporarily supplanted. Although the temporary-rulemaking endeavor is laudable—and arguably necessary for the sake of maintaining well-functioning markets in crisis circumstances—neither the SEC nor its observers have sufficiently acknowledged the meaningful risks that temporary rules might present to investors. At the same time, they have also not appreciated the opportunities that temporary rules may create for furthering the cause of more effective regulation. This Article seeks to illuminate the potential and the pitfalls of temporary rules, thereby contributing to a better understanding of what is at stake when the SEC adopts them and what considerations should inform the agency’s rulemaking during future crises.
Temporary Securities Regulation,
Wash. & Lee L. Rev.
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