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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

Surprising pandemic side effect: Soaring trade deficits

Source: Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis; Chart: Axios Visuals

Inflation and jobs may get all the economic headlines, but meanwhile a big shift is taking place in the underpinnings of the world economy: The U.S. trade deficit is soaring.

What's happening: Americans' spending on imported physical goods has gone through the roof, while exports are growing slowly, making the U.S. the world's consumer of last resort.

Mike Allen, author of AM
57 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Third Way: "Big Lie" could become "Big Coup"

Graphic: Third Way

Third Way, the center-left think tank, is urging fellow Democrats to respond to the Capitol riot with "the size, scope, and seriousness of a presidential campaign," co-founder Matt Bennett tells me.

Driving the news: "For the first time in U.S. history, a party must mount two parallel presidential campaigns: one to win the election, and the other to prevent its theft," Bennett said, calling this "a Paul Revere moment."

Advocates say Biden has let Haitian migrants down

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Christian Torres/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Continued turmoil in Haiti is causing a growing number of Haitians to try to make it to American shores — and some advocates say the Biden administration isn't supporting this community in its time of crisis.

The big picture: Haitian-American activists in South Florida told Axios Today they feel like President Biden has gone back on campaign promises he made to the community to stand up for them.

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