New SEC Regulations Cast Wide Net…

We can—t speak for anyone else, but we—ll admit that we were caught off guard by the regulations that SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro unveiled at a press conference earlier today.

In an unusually buoyant tone, Schapiro said that the new regulations would accomplish two key goals:

  • Facilitate the work of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, which was restructured in mid-January
  • help to reduce the nation’s nearly $12.7 trillion national debt.

—It’s time for meaningful reform in the marketplace, Schapiro said at the press conference. —We—ve got to take bold steps to prevent the next Enron, or the next Bernie Madoff, from swindling hard-working investors. And if they’re going to try something, at least they’re going to pay for it.

While the final regulations have not yet been finalized, here’s a few of the key headlines from this morning’s press conference:

Page limit on filings: In addition to the standard filing fee, companies whose filings exceed a 50-page limit must pay an additional $25,000 for every 50 pages thereafter; (Editorial note: This means that Bank of America (BAC) may want to re-think the 756-page annual report that it filed in February, or else be willing to —Ding the Debt by $360,000);

New regs on type size: Any company that submits filings with footnotes printed in type smaller than a 9-point font must pay a $50,000 fine and provide 10,000 pairs of eyeglasses to its local Lions Club.

Filing Deadlines:

* Filings submitted to the SEC on Fridays after 4 pm EST must pay a $20,000 —Hide the Baloney Tax;

* Filings submitted to the SEC on the day prior to a federal holiday or day that the major markets are closed must pay a $40,000 —Tricky Filers— Tax (Since tomorrow is Good Friday, we’re expecting a lot of those today, though keep in mind that the SEC is open tomorrow)

* Filings submitted to the SEC past their scheduled due date (available here) must pay the regular filing fee plus a 100% late fee;

Responses to Comment Letters: In addition to a new $1,500 fee, companies sending responses to Comment Letters must include a hand-written apology, signed by the CEO, to the SEC Branch Chief that expresses remorse for requiring a disproportionate amount of the SEC staff’s time.

—We think these new regulations are a real ‘win-win-win’, said Tom Sporkin, Chief of the SEC’s newly created Office of Market Intelligence. —Besides making the market more transparent for investors and reducing our national debt, we hope that these changes enable our allies at to stop reading filings at a reasonable hour and reclaim their nights and holiday weekends.

P.S. from all of us here at footnoted: Happy April Fool’s Day!