Biography of Arthur Levitt

Arthur Levitt, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, 450 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20549

Arthur Levitt is the 25th Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He was first appointed by President Clinton in July, 1993, and reappointed to a second five-year term in May, 1998. His term expires on June 5, 2003.

Chairman Levitt's bio in the SEC web site states that his "top priority is investor protection, which is reflected by the key successes of his first term: reforming the debt markets; improving broker sales and pay practices; promoting the use of plain English in investment literature as well as in SEC communications with the public; preserving the independence of the private sector standard setting process; ensuring the independence of accountants; and encouraging foreign companies to list on U.S. markets."

Related Pages

Summary of Securities Litigation Reform Bills in the 105th Congress.
Summary of and commentary on S 1689, by Arthur Levitt, 5/19/98.
Statement by Arthur Levitt concerning online trading, 1/27/99.
SEC Summary of Arthur Levitt Speech to the National Press Club about Online Investing, 5/4/99.

Chairman Levitt has been supportive of high-tech, and online securities trading.

He supported passage of both the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act in 1998, and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act in the 104th Congress.

These bills are designed to reduce the number of frivolous class action lawsuits brought primarily against high tech companies in the computer, Internet, and biotech industries.

Under Chairman Levitt's leadership the SEC has recently begun investigating and taking action against online securities fraud.

Before joining the Commission, Mr. Levitt owned Roll Call, a newspaper that covers Capitol Hill. From 1989 to 1993, he served as the Chairman of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, and from 1978 to 1989 he was the Chairman of the American Stock Exchange. Prior to joining the AMEX, Mr. Levitt worked for 16 years on Wall Street. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Williams College in 1952 before serving for two years in the Air Force.



The SEC is an independent, nonpartisan, quasijudicial regulatory agency with responsibility for administering the federal securities laws. The purpose of these laws is to protect investors in securities markets that operate fairly and to ensure that investors have access to disclosure of all material information concerning publicly traded securities. The Commission also regulates firms engaged in the purchase or sale of securities, people who provide investment advice, and investment companies.

Five Commissioners sit on the SEC, with one designated as Chairman by the President of the United States. All Commission members are appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, for fixed five-year terms. Terms are staggered; one expires on June 5th of every year. Not more than three members may be of the same political party.

The Commission enforces the following laws:

  • Securities Act of 1933
  • Securities Exchange Act of 1934
  • Investment Company Act of 1940
  • Investment Adviser Act of 1940
  • Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935
  • Trust Indenture Act of 1939