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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New regulations on the SPAC market have been slow to come, but SEC chair Gary Gensler on Tuesday assured Congress that they are indeed coming.

Why it matters: SPAC volume has skyrocketed in the past two years, but their rules haven't evolved.

What Gensler said, in response to a question from Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio):

"I think the risks are to investors and the disclosure to the investors. I've asked staff to serve up recommendations that we can consider as a Commission."But in essence there's a lot of costs in these. Secondly, they usually have a two-year fuse and in that two-year fuse they try to go out and buy something. And a lot of the institutional investors, when that happens, sell. It's called a redemption right, and retail investors are often left holding the dilution, or the significant costs of the bankers and the promoters. "So we're looking at greater disclosures and if there's inherent conflicts along the way. And then try to put this out to notice and comment and rule-making."

The big picture: SPACs are still going strong, despite talk that we're past the peak.

  • Four different SPACs priced IPOs in just the past day, raising $850 million. There also was a major SPAC merger (Pagaya) and several new SPAC formations.

The big risk for Gensler is that there will be a major SPAC debacle that could have been prevented by more timely rulemaking. But based on yesterday's hearing, in which crypto questions dominated, Congress would also take some heat.

The bottom line: The more things stay the same, the more they will eventually change.

Learn more about SPACs with our Get Smart video short course.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Dec 16, 2021 - Economy & Business

Shopping with a private currency

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Something rare is happening with regularity in the digital media world: all-stock acquisitions by private companies.

Why it matters: It's hard to negotiate a deal when you're paying in stock with limited liquidity and valuation uncertainty.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Dec 16, 2021 - Economy & Business

The rise of legal insider trading

Data: InsiderScore; Chart: Axios Visuals

Insider trading — the legal kind — hit new highs in 2021, and the SEC wants to make sure it isn't being abused.

Why it matters: Big-dollar insider stock sales are increasingly common, with no fewer than 82 different corporate insiders selling more than $100 million of stock in 2021. That's up from just 32 in 2019.

Starbucks drops worker vaccine mandate after SCOTUS ruling

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Starbucks announced in a memo to employees Tuesday that it has dropped plans to implement a vaccine mandate for all U.S. workers, AP reported on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The company's decision comes in response to the Supreme Court's ruling last week to block the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.