Can Reddit's Influence Be Regulated? SEC Commissioner Discusses Recent Market Volatility

The trading world was recently beset by volatility, fueled by a rush of trading spurred on by threads on Reddit, as various companies’ market values increased dramatically and then fell sharply. Accompanying those market events was strong media focus on “market volatility, trading volumes, regular-Joe-to-riches stories, hedge fund losses, short squeezes, gamma squeezes, glee at sticking it to the ‘suits,’ anger at trading limitations, a jumble of emotions as stock prices fell from their highs, and debates about the intricacies of market structure,” SEC Commissioner Hester M. Peirce pointed out in recent remarks. This article summarizes Peirce’s speech in which she offered her musings on the challenges that lie before the SEC as it decides whether and how to react to the Reddit-fueled events with new or modified regulations and, more generally, as the Commission considers its role as a regulator of the digital economy. For further commentary from Peirce, see our two-part coverage of the HFLR’s fireside chat featuring the Commissioner: “Fiduciary Duty, Accredited Investor Standard and CCO Liability” (Nov. 21, 2019); and “Rule Updates, Technological Change, Role of Enforcement and Hot‑Button Issues” (Dec. 5, 2019). For coverage of other speeches by Peirce, see “Views on Personal Liability for CCOs” (Nov. 5, 2020); “Enforcement Efforts and Reforms” (Feb. 20, 2020); and “The Power of ‘No’: SEC Commissioner Peirce on Enforcement as Last Resort” (Jun. 21, 2018).

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