Hester M. Peirce
Hester M. Peirce was sworn in as a commissioner at the SEC on January 11, 2018, along with Robert J. Jackson Jr. The two appointments gave the SEC its full complement of commissioners, clearing the way for the body to recommence rulemaking.
Peirce’s work has been published in such outlets as the Hill and American Banker, and she is a regular contributor to Real Clear Markets. She is the editor of, and a contributor to, the book "Reframing Financial Regulation: Enhancing Stability and Protecting Consumers," published by Mercatus in 2016.
Commissioner Peirce quickly made a name for herself as an advocate for innovation in her first year at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission when she formally dissented from a disapproval of the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust ETF proposed by Cboe for listing on its Bats exchange. In her dissent, Peirce noted that the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 limits the commission to evaluating the applicant's ability to supervise its own market, not the underlying spot markets as the commission did in that case. Peirce also stated that the SEC's disapproval acted as a barrier to further institutionalization of the bitcoin market and was anti-innovation.
The day after the commission's Division of Trading and Markets disapproved nine bitcoin futures-based ETFs, Peirce announced on her Twitter feed that the disapproval would be reviewed by the full commission.
At Consensus 2019 in New York city, Peirce discussed the topic of cryptocurrency ETFs. According to the commissioner, the SEC should do more to provide regulatory clarity for running a cryptocurrency business in compliance with current securities laws.
Peirce was given the moniker "Crypto Mom" by the online cryptocurrency community after dissenting from the SEC's decision to reject the bitcoin ETF championed by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss. It was likely intended as a lighthearted term of endearment by the community, but Peirce has not gone on record to express her feelings on the name.
Safe harbor proposal
In remarks at the Fourth International Blockchain Congress in Chicago on February 6, 2020, Peirce introduced a proposal that, if adopted by the SEC, would streamline the process of initial coin offerings, providing issuers a way to raise money for development of utility tokens without first having to register them as securities. The proposal was informal in the sense that it was not offered as part of SEC rulemaking. The commissioner said that she was seeking feedback from the industry on the proposal before deciding on next, if any, steps.
A Republican, Peirce was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on December 22, 2017 and sworn in to office on January 11, 2018. She was re-nominated for a full five-year term by President Donald Trump in June 2020, shortly before her first term was due to expire. After a July 21 nomination hearing before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Peirce's second term was approved by the Senate in a voice vote on August 6, 2020. Peirce was sworn into her second term on August 17.
Before joining the commission, Peirce was a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where her research focused on financial markets regulation. Prior to that Peirce worked for the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
Peirce is a prominent critic of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, writing, “Giving regulators more levers to pull and buttons to push with respect to the financial system only creates a false sense of security,” in a 2013 treatise on the law.
Peirce joined the SEC from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where she was a senior research fellow and director of the Financial Markets Working Group. She previously worked for U.S. Senator Richard Shelby on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and, before that, as counsel to then-SEC Commissioner Paul S. Atkins, and as a staff attorney in the Division of Investment Management.
Before that, she clerked for Judge Roger B. Andewelt on the Court of Federal Claims and was an associate at a Washington, DC law firm.
Peirce earned a BA in economics from Case Western Reserve University and a JD from Yale Law School.
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