Repeal the Rescue Packages

Last week, former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich wrote an opinion in the San Francisco Chronicle renewing the call for a repeal of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (“SOX”).  Mr. Gingrich’s basic premise is that SOX went too far in regulating corporate governance and at the same time did nothing to prevent the collapse in financial markets.  As many others have complained in the past, Mr. Gingrich says that SOX is too costly and is preventing companies from going public.  Mr. Gingrich cites a $4.36 million cost per company from a recent Financial Executives International (“FEI”) survey.  However, he fails to mention this figure is for the largest of companies (those with a market value greater than $700 million) and is out of date.  The most recent FEI survey figure for the largest companies is actually lower ($3.8 million) and for smaller companies that he is referencing in his IPO argument, the average cost is just over $600,000.  

Now, let’s compare that to the updated “rescue” package for AIG.  Just this week, the package was increased to $150 billion.  That’s right – billion with a “B”.  And, as for the claim that SOX did nothing to prevent AIG’s woes, it actually helped bring the woes to light.  It was the external auditor’s disclosure of a material weakness in AIG controls (a SOX requirement) over credit default swap valuations that first held AIG management accountable and led to the departure of the CEO.  

Lastly, Mr. Gingrich says that SOX is driving companies overseas.  Well, if that is the case, then the “rescue” packages are certainly serving as a great incentive for companies to come back to the US.  Now, companies are lining up to receive US taxpayer money.  Those companies that do not want to be held accountable when accessing capital through public markets are probably better off in other markets.  SOX is not the problem – it is the “rescue” packages that need to be repealed.

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About Wheelhouse Advisors
Wheelhouse Advisors LLC is the publisher of The ERM Current™, an online publication and blog dedicated to providing the latest updates on current trends in Enterprise Risk Management & Control. Wheelhouse Advisors provides cost-effective Enterprise Risk Management & Control solutions to both large and mid-size corporations. To learn more about Wheelhouse Advisors, please visit our web site at www.WheelhouseAdvisors.com.

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