SEC Fiddles While the Financial Industry Burns?
By Staff News & Analysis - January 13, 2012

COMPLY: Flattery on Facebook can mean headaches for advisers … Financial advisers don't have the freedom to embrace social media with the same unbridled enthusiasm as the rest of the world. Even the most innocent comments posted to their social media profiles by friends and family could lead to trouble with regulators. Kind words from third parties may be construed as testimonials, which are heavily restricted for brokerages and not even permitted for registered investment advisers. – Reuters

Dominant Social Theme: The SEC is in tip-top shape and ready to rumble.

Free-Market Analysis: Why shouldn't US brokers be able to post encomiums on the Internet? From the point of view of those who run the US Securities and Exchange Commission, brokers that place praise or − heaven help them − self-praise on "social networking" sites are placing the consumer at grave risk.

The idea, according to regulators, is that unscrupulous brokers can fool investors into thinking they are honest and then abscond with fundsor otherwise perform nefarious and dishonest activities. Sound reasonable?

No. It is part of a larger misapprehension, in our view. It is all based on what may be considered a purposeful misunderstanding about how free markets work. The idea in the modern age is that one needs a huge governmental force of police to ensure that consumers are not taken advantage of.

What is lost in the creation of this military-Intel-police force is that the government itself is a far more dishonest and diabolical caretaker of people's wealth than the average crook, no matter how devious.

It is government that confiscates up to one-half or more of people's wages. It is government that creates massive inflation and depression that causes people to lose their jobs, houses and families.

It is modern government − especially Western government − that creates unnecessary wars based on faux provocations, wastes trillions on unnecessary weapons systems and, in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan, at least, seeds the earth and air with depleted uranium that causes birth defects and cancer.

It is government that is responsible for over 150 million deaths, conservatively, in the 20th century, and it is government that will be responsible for tens or hundreds millions more in the 21st century. What is worse is that government itself is not the driving force behind this death dealing.

Modern government, certainly modern Western government, is apparently run by a handful of elite families that gain their power by control over central banking around the world. At the beginning of the 20th century there were few central banks around. Now there are hundreds.

These elite families and their enablers and associates have apparently attempted to control every facet of human society from the media, to education, to political and military facilities with the aim of introducing formal world government.

We call the methodology that the power elite uses "dominant social themes" and one of the most important is "regulatory democracy." This is the idea that government itself can supervise the private sector and make it safer and more rational.

Of course, this is a ludicrous concept. Every single law or regulation introduced by government is a price fix, distorting the economy and transferring wealth from those who create it to those who do not and may well not know how to use it effectively to generate further prosperity for themselves and others.

In fact, the reason that regulatory democracy has taken such a hold in the past 100 years or so is because the elites have promoted it as part of a larger sociopolitical and economic system of "enlightened governance."

The REAL reason for the insistence on regulatory democracy is because the powers-that-be exercise their power behind the scenes by MANIPULATING government. Without government and the belief in the regulatory efficacy of government, the power elite loses the traction of its most effective methodology of control – mercantilism.

The (Anglosphere) power elite that wants to run the world needs people to believe in the efficacy of "scientifically implemented" regulatory authority. The idea is that a technocracy of enlightened bureaucrats can figure out how to perfect private markets.

They cannot, of course. They can only fix prices and aggravate whatever trends are occurring in the private marketplace. This does not stop the elites from promoting this meme aggressively. Every market "problem" is seen as an opportunity to further expand regulation. Every time people lose money on misguided investments, the government – the world's biggest spendthrift – is there to ensure it won't happen again.

Financial regulation is an especially egregious example of the dysfunction of the regulatory state. Modern financial regulation as it is practiced in the West must of necessity aggravate booms and busts and exacerbate panics by restricting the richness of private market investment strategies.

Western financial regulators often outright forbid certain financial practices as "too risky." But often, financial regulators attempt to accomplish their goals by restricting the flow of information to approved strategies. This is what the SEC is doing by trying to limit financial advisors' access to Facebook. Here's more from the article excerpted above:

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, in recent social networking guidance, cautioned investment advisers about third-party posts. Firms that allow those postings on LinkedIn and Facebook may need safeguards to avoid violating securities laws, SEC staff wrote.

Social networking practices are shifting in the securities industry, after many firms initially banned advisers from using the sites. But as more firms slowly come around to using the sites, their concerns are increasingly focusing on how to control comments and links posted by third parties.

Answers to those questions from regulators are still evolving. The SEC's new guidance follows earlier suggestions for the brokerage industry from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority about everything from archiving messages to monitoring for compliance. But even those efforts don't fully resolve some industry-wide worries, such as whether a simple "Like" from a client on an adviser's Facebook page could be a testimonial.

We can see from this just how comprehensive the SEC's hold over advisor communications really is. Worse, in this article, there is no question about whether or not the SEC has the power to restrict advisor communications on new technologies. The power is just assumed.

This, of course, brings up a larger issue. While Western legislatures often pass laws, the bulk of law-making seems to have passed into the hands of unelected regulators that make determinations almost as they please, without oversight of any sort.

This might be tolerable if the economics were appropriate (they are not) or if regulators could point to a track record of success (they cannot, for obvious reasons). Unfortunately, there is another reason why regulatory democracies contain the seeds of their own destruction: regulatory capture.

Being that the modern regulatory structure has no legislative oversight (not that it would do much good anyway) regulators inevitably become influenced by the most powerful entities in the industries they regulate. This means that regulations are regularly made to enhance the agendas of the most dominant industrial facilities and disadvantage the smaller, up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

Regulation simply doesn't work. It is merely a promotional mechanism designed to condition people that government is there to protect them when actually government is merely a conduit through which certain families attempt to dominate every facet of human existence.

On its face, regulation is absurd, fixing prices, distorting markets and forbidding people to utilize strategies that might ameliorate market-based disasters when they occur.

By limiting the flow of information, propagandizing people about the benefits of government authoritarianism and turning over various industries to their most powerful players, regulators enhance everything that has gone wrong with Western democracies.

The corruption, rot and centralizing abuses of modern economies begins and ends with the idea that regulation is in any sense efficient or anodyne. It merely provides the West – and the world – with a kind of creeping totalitarianism that must end, as it has before, in genocide and despair.

After Thoughts

Forbidding advisors from using Facebook as they wish seems but a minor thing. Unfortunately, it is symptomatic of looming disasters of the utmost gravity.