Commissioner Hester M. Peirce is "disturbed" by the amount of data that will soon be collected by the SEC's consolidated audit trail, she said Friday at a Security Traders Association conference in Washington.
"It took me a little while for me to get to the point of seeing how really intense a project this is and how the liberty consequences of this project are really pretty severe," Ms. Peirce said during a panel discussion. "Because, as a government regulator and as someone who's been in the securities world for a long time, I'm used to this being a really highly regulated industry, but this is taking it one step further by saying we're going to track everything that retail investors do."
CAT will be a single database for all equity and options trades executed on U.S. exchanges. It's intended to allow regulators to track illegal or manipulative trades and show a way to quickly determine what caused large, sudden losses in trading value, such as the flash crash of May 6, 2010. That event resulted in the loss of nearly $1 trillion in U.S. equity value in the Dow Jones industrial average in a little more than 30 minutes.
Starting in April, broker-dealers will be required to submit data to the CAT on trades they execute on behalf of clients — including institutional investors.
Ms. Peirce said her thoughts on the CAT project have been "crystalizing" more recently and collecting data on every trade is giving her pause. "These are people who have been accused of no wrongdoing, there's no evidence that they've done anything wrong, and we, the government and a bunch of the self-regulatory organizations, are going to be watching everything they do," she said. "I think that's crazy."
In September, the Securities and Exchange Commission proposed guidance that would require self-regulatory organizations, made up of exchanges and securities associations, to file and publish an implementation plan and quarterly progress reports to ensure the project's timelines are met.