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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Enforcement actions like lawsuits are one of the SEC’s most powerful tools to stop bad actors and telegraph the agency’s views. In 2020 alone, the regulator issued 715 enforcement actions.

Yes, but: It’s no match for Elon Musk’s will to tweet whatever he wants.

  • Despite agreeing to have his market-moving tweets vetted by a lawyer after running afoul of the law with a 2018 tweet about taking his company private, Musk isn’t doing that, according to the Wall Street Journal.
  • The agency warned Tesla in 2019 and 2020 that some of his tweets were out of bounds, but the company argued they weren’t within the scope of the agreement. Per the WSJ, the agency has since decided that more warnings would be counterproductive, and it’s unclear what it can do to get its way.

Meanwhile, the agency is also fighting a battle in court against crypto company Ripple and two of its executives, alleging it illegally sold securities in the form of its digital token XRP.

  • While it’s not the first time a cryptocurrency defendant has been indignant about its actions (Kik, for example, even raised $5 million to “defend crypto” in the face of its own SEC tangle), the Ripple lawsuit could be the most consequential case so far.
  • It will set an important precedent for the rest of the industry and the issuance of digital tokens — even more important in the continued absence of new laws or regulatory rules on the subject.
  • Most recently, the two sides are duking it out over Ripple’s attempt to end the case by claiming it didn’t get a “fair notice” about allegedly illegal conduct from the SEC before it filed its lawsuit. Should that defense prevail in court, it would make it really hard for the agency to sue other cryptocurrency companies in the future.

Go deeper

Kate Marino, author of Markets
Aug 11, 2021 - Economy & Business

One-on-one with MoneyGram CEO Alex Holmes

Alex Holmes; Photo: MoneyGram

The pandemic’s acceleration of all things digital could not be more clear to MoneyGram CEO Alex Holmes.

Driving the news: Holmes oversees a global money transfer business that operates in 200 countries. The company's digital transactions skyrocketed 44% year over year in Q2 2021, on top of what it described as "astounding" 106% digital transaction growth in Q2 2020.

Updated 1 hour ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker