This is a matter of will and leadership. Its chairwoman, Mary L. Schapiro, while deserving credit for pushing investigations of structured investments, is sending the signal that she does not want to lose. Her agency is meekly willing to get token settlements when the situation calls for Old Testament justice.
Someday, the S.E.C. will have to go up against a top executive who has resources to fight, and who was too sophisticated to put anything rash in writing. This seems to be our fate: our bankers took reckless risks, but our regulators take none.
As any old streetfighter can tell you, you gotta bring some to get some. Seems like the SEC ain't got none.