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News May 30, 2011 Issue

RiskFin Gets A New Director

SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro created RiskFin, and now sheís found it a new director.

Last week, Schapiro named Vanderbilt University Professor Craig Lewis as the SECís Chief Economist and Director of the Division of Risk, Strategy, and Financial Innovation, the SECís self-styled "RiskFin." Lewis, who is currently and was also previously a visiting scholar at the SEC, will assume his new responsibilities in June.

"His two tours as a visiting academic fellow at the SEC give him important insights into the agencyís inner workings and uniquely position him to fulfill my vision of the Division," said Schapiro. During his periods as an academic fellow from January-July 2010 and January-present this year, Lewis has provided advice on policy issues, worked on developing analytic approaches to identify violations of securities laws, and analyzed the over-the-counter derivative securities market.

Lewis has been teaching, researching and writing about corporate finance, the securities markets, and economics since 1983. He joined the faculty of Vanderbilt University in 1986. During his tenure there, he spent time as a visiting professor at Dartmouth Collegeís Tuck School of Business, Donau University in Austria, and Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. The SECís press release on his appointment noted that Lewis has published research on volatility in stock and futures markets, margin adequacy, corporate earnings management, corporate financial policy, executive compensation, selective disclosure, and herd behavior by equity analysts.

"Professor Lewis is a distinguished economist with a clear understanding of the complexities of financial markets," said Schapiro. "As the head of the Division, he will not only lead our qualified team of expert economists, but will also help to inject strong data-driven analysis into the SECís decision-making process."

RiskFin, the SECís first new division in 37 years, was created by Schapiro in September 2009 to act as the agencyís "think tank." RiskFin provides "interdisciplinary analysis to help inform the Commissionís policymaking, rulemaking, enforcement and examinations," said the release. The Division was formed by combining the former Office of Economic Analysis, Office of Risk Assessment, and Office of Interactive Disclosure. Its staffers are experienced in disciplines including economics, risk analysis, finance, law, mathematics and statistics.

Lewis is a CPA and received his undergraduate degree in accounting from Ohio State University. He received his Masters and PhD degrees in finance from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Lewis said, "I am honored that Chairman Schapiro has offered me the opportunity to lead the Division and the SECís economists at this critical juncture. I look forward to fostering durable new analytic models that will promote efficient and effective work throughout the agency, from rule-writing to enforcement."