SEC Commissioner Elisse Walter is named the new chairwoman of the agency, which will be effectively deadlocked — at least temporarily — on controversial issues.
WASHINGTON — Mary L. Schapiro's departure as head of the Securities and Exchange Commission will leave the agency — at least temporarily — deadlocked as it continues to try to enact tough reforms on Wall Street.
Schapiro, 57, said Monday that she will resign effective Dec. 14. President Obama quickly designated SEC Commissioner Elisse B. Walter as the agency's new chairwoman.
Walter is not expected to radically change the regulator's agenda. But her move will leave the five-member SEC commission one person short — and effectively deadlocked on controversial issues such as Dodd-Frank financial reform, new regulations for money market mutual funds and a push to rein in high-speed trading.
"With the resignation of Schapiro, we have two Republicans, two Democrats, and they won't agree on anything," said John Coffee, a securities law expert at Columbia Law School.
Walter, a former executive at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and the National Assn. of Securities Dealers, has been a commissioner since 2008. She served as chairwoman for a short period in January 2009 after the departure of former ChairmanChristopher Cox, before Schapiro was sworn in.
Since she already serves on the SEC commission, Walter could serve without Senate confirmation until the end of next year. But she would need Senate approval to stay longer as chairwoman, as would a nominee from outside the SEC. Obama has had difficulty getting nominees through the Senate, so the agency could remain one person short for a while.
The 62-year-old Walter said she was "deeply honored and humbled" to be the SEC's next chairwoman and praised Schapiro for doing "an exceptional job." She is mentioned as a possible long-term replacement. Other names floated are Mary J. Miller, assistant Treasury secretary for domestic finance, Sallie Krawcheck, a former executive at Bank of America and Citigroup, and Robert Khuzami, director of the SEC's enforcement division.
It's rare for SEC leaders to serve more than four years, and Schapiro's departure had been widely expected. The first woman to serve as a non-interim chief of the agency, Schapiro served longer than 24 of the previous 28 heads, the SEC said.