The Securities and Exchange Commission may have given in to a push to lighten up on regulation, helping to fuel the current financial crisis, according to critics. The New York Times notes that the SEC has eased up on enforcement in recent years after Wall Street complained that aggressive enforcement was contributing to the U.S.' loss of a competitive edge in financial markets. "First and foremost the SEC is a law-enforcement agency, and (Chairman) Chris Cox has continued that long-standing tradition," said Ira D. Hammerman, senior managing director for SIFMA, in defense of Cox.

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