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June 16, 2020

Today’s Decision from the D.C. Circuit is a Setback for Investors Who Need Protection from Rigged and Predatory Stock Markets

Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Contact: Pamela Russell at 202-618-6433 or
Washington, D.C.  –  Stephen W. Hall, Legal Director and Securities Specialist for Better Markets, issued the following statement on the decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in NYSE V. SEC, which struck down the “maker-taker” pilot program initiated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”):
“Today’s court decision is a major setback for investors who will remain victims of rigged markets and predatory conduct at the hands of exchanges, other trading venues and market participants for years to come. 
“Currently, exchanges and other trading venues are allowed to pay brokers to attract customer orders, and they profit handsomely from these kickbacks, known as “maker-taker” fees and rebates. This is a form of legalized bribery that takes money out of the pockets of ordinary retail investors and puts that money into the pockets of brokers and exchanges. Because markets are so complex and lack transparency, few investors are aware of the actual costs. But the losses add up every day, and that’s why the SEC had to step in.
“After an extensive rulemaking process, the SEC set up a pilot program to gather more data about these trading practices so it could develop a tailored, targeted solution. But the Court held that the SEC had acted outside its authority, essentially because the agency failed to state with sufficient precision the problem it was trying to solve and how the data would help address it.
“While the SEC could arguably have done a better job more clearly staking out its view that these fee structures do in fact distort markets and harm investors, the Court should not have thrown investors back to the wolves unprotected. The concurrence in today’s decision makes clear that there is ample basis for these concerns, citing amicus briefs from Better Markets and other organizations. 
“The SEC must now account for the Court’s criticisms, make the necessary finding that the status quo is doing more harm than good, and take decisive action to better protect investors and make the securities markets fairer and more transparent for everyone.”
Better Markets is a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization founded in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to promote the public interest in the financial markets, support the financial reform of Wall Street and make our financial system work for all Americans again. Better Markets works with allies – including many in finance – to promote pro-market, pro-business and pro-growth policies that help build a stronger, safer financial system that protects and promotes Americans’ jobs, savings, retirements and more. To learn more, visit
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