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September 30, 2001

Pitt's Different Take on Analysts

By Gregory Bresiger

The brokerage industry, not Congress or the SEC, should be responsible for proposing new rules governing analysts and their relationships with the companies they cover. That was the comment from SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt as quoted in several published reports. Pitt, who also was quoted as saying Congress should mind its own business, could be signaling a new regulatory policy. His predecessor, Arthur Levitt, had the reputation of being tougher on analysts and their possible conflict.

But Congress appears ready to adopt Pitt's position, at least in the short term. Congressman Richard Baker, (R-La), had been considering offering legislation to govern analyst recommendations. But, in light of the attack at the World Trade Center, Baker, the chairman of the House Capital Markets Subcommittee, has said he doesn't think the legislation is appropriate at this time.

Arthur Levitt, who was viewed as very tough and suspicious of the securities industry, helped enact regulation Fair Disclosure to ensure that analysts operate in a fairer environment, giving individual investors the same opportunities to obtain information as they have. However, the much-maligned Regulation FD has been heavily criticized in some parts of the securities industry.