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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

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
5 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.

7 hours ago - Health

Beware a Thanksgiving mirage

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Don't be surprised if COVID metrics plunge over the next few days, only to spike next week.

Why it matters: The COVID Tracking Project warns of a "double-weekend pattern" on Thanksgiving — where the usual weekend backlog of data is tacked on to a holiday.

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