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September 30, 2001

Emergency Authority May Be Needed

By Gregory Bresiger

SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt told Congress that his agency may need more emergency authority in order to maintain orderly markets. The SEC has invoked its emergency powers for the first time in the wake of the Sept. 11 attack, but they may not be enough.

"Should we conclude that our efforts to respond to this attack or other major market disturbances would be enhanced by additional authority...we will, of course, let Congress know," he told lawmakers.

Earlier, Pitt told lawmakers that the SEC is considering steps that would remove regulatory barriers that slow down the capital raising process. The SEC already has broad authority to direct markets. Under its founding act, it can "by order summarily take such actions to alter, supplement, suspend, or impose requirements or restrictions with respect to any matter or action subject to regulation by the Commission."

The SEC's recent ordered shutdown of the stock markets for four days in September was the first time the commission had used that emergency power in the 67-year history of the commission.