Friday, January 05, 2007

Enron's Last Victim

This NYT editorial claims the last victim of Sarbanes-Oxley are American markets.
The section of the law requiring companies to perform internal audits has turned out to be far more costly than proponents projected, especially for smaller firms. These costs have led some small companies to go private, hardly a victory for public oversight, and some foreign firms to withdraw their stocks from American exchanges ... the average “listing premium” has declined by 19 percentage points since 2002 ... the percentage of worldwide initial public offerings on our exchanges dropped to 5 percent last year, from 50 percent in 2000 ... The overall price-earnings ratio for the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, however, has declined continuously since the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was being drafted in the spring of 2002 ... One big problem is that the act nationalized the rules for corporate governance, reducing the value of the competition among the states for setting such rules. In addition, the act failed to resolve the major conflict of interest created when auditing firms are paid by the companies they audit.
Naw. American markets aren't the last victim. We've met the last victim and the last victim is us.

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