The Securities and Exchange Commission is facing a dilemma because the government has become a large stakeholder in many of the country's banks. Actions taken by the SEC could hurt financial institutions in which the government holds shares. The agency must decide whether to protect investors or the government's investments. "Normally, the SEC's focus is on the protection of investors -- that is, people who are trading securities in capital markets," said James Cox, a Duke University professor. "With the government being a substantial stockholder, you could well think the SEC's consideration could extend to matters that relate to the financial success of the firm itself."

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