Gripped by the Bernard Madoff scandal, a new administration in Washington and new regulators on Capitol Hill, this has been a tumultuous period for Wall Street, and an increase in settlements by the Securities and Exchange Commission in the first quarter has left many wondering if there will be greater enforcement going forward.

Elaine Buckberg, the co-author of NERA Economic Consulting's SEC Settlements Trends: 1Q10 Update, said in an interview Tuesday that it is very unusual for an increase in settlements to occur in the first quarter. Even more interesting, is that settlements rose in tandem with a decline in the number of settlements that came with a financial component.

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