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Clayton speaks at Stanford University's Rock Center for Corporate Governance. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

"What I see happening in the ICO market today is ‘let me have all of the disclosure freedom of a private placement and all of the secondary activity and ability to market this of a public offering.' We decided in 1934: that [having both of these at once] led to a lot of problems," SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said on Wednesday evening at Stanford University.

Why it matters: With the boom in initial coin offerings and blockchain technology, it's not surprise that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is watching the space closely, and is especially concerned with the lack of protections for investors.

More from his remarks:

  • "I think we can say that wherever the date is, it’s passed," he said when asked whether his commission has made ICO rules clear enough yet.
  • "There are a lot of protections in the way stock trades on exchanges... these platforms that you’re seeing where people are trading cryptocurrencies — there are none of these rules... The opportunity for price manipulation is at orders of magnitude.”
  • "Blockchain, distributed ledger tech — I don't think any of us think it's a fad ... it clearly has applications that are gonna add efficiencies." 
  • "If this market continues as it is, this will not be the last enforcement actions that we take," he said of the three ICOs the SEC has moved against so far.
  • "Some of the offerings that we’re seeing, if the lawyers are telling them it’s OK, they’re just plain wrong," he said. Clayton added that it's a possibility they will take action against lawyers knowingly giving advice to ICO issuers that is against current law.

Go deeper

22 mins ago - World

China sanctions Wilbur Ross, 5 other Americans over Hong Kong warnings

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Chinese government imposed sanctions on Monday against six Americans, including former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, in response to an advisory from the Biden administration warning businesses of the increased risks of operating in Hong Kong.

Why it matters: It's the latest example of China responding furiously to U.S. attempts to shed light on human rights abuses in places like Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet, which Chinese officials routinely condemn as "interference" in domestic affairs.

Updated 53 mins ago - Sports

Live updates: Olympics formally kick off with "sobering" opening ceremony

Naomi Osaka lights the Olympic cauldron. Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

After a year-long delay, the Tokyo Olympics are finally underway. But this year's largely spectator-less opening ceremony is a "sobering" event focused primarily on the athletes.

The latest: The cauldron in Tokyo has been lit, formally kicking off the Olympic Games. Tennis star Naomi Osaka had the honor of carrying the Olympic torch to light the cauldron.

2 hours ago - Sports

Cleveland Indians change name to "Guardians"

The Cleveland Indians baseball team announced Friday that it will change its name to the "Guardians," following years of activism and protests against a moniker considered offensive by many Native Americans.

Why it matters: It's the first time the team will change its name since 1915, a move that comes in the wake of the nationwide racial reckoning that began with the murder of George Floyd.

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