Business and Economics: December 2009 Archives

Is it possible that the much hated Sarbox (Sarbanes-Oxley) law will be struck down by the US Supreme Court? Let's hope so.

Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board was brought in 2006 by Brad Beckstead, whose small Nevada accounting firm endured a costly examination under Sarbox rules. At issue is whether the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, or PCAOB, which supervises compliance with the law, violates the Constitution's separation of powers. Under the Appointments Clause, all "officers" of the United States must be appointed by the President and accountable to him--a condition PCAOB members do not meet.

(emphasis added - ed.)

--snip--

The PCAOB has indeed grown as a politically unaccountable entity with vast power to regulate business. Texas Senator Phil Gramm warned at its creation that Congress was setting up a board with "massive unchecked power" to "make decisions that affect all accountants and everybody they work for, which directly or indirectly is every breathing person in the country."

Massive is the right word. The accounting board's wide-open mandate--to make whatever rules "may be necessary or appropriate in the public interest or for the protection of investors"--has cost the economy nearly $1 trillion, according to a study by AEI and the Brookings Institution. The benefit is supposed to be investor protection. But despite these costs, the law did nothing to warn about the meltdown of mortgage-backed securities, much less expose Bernie Madoff or other fraudsters.

A hastily put together bill created an unsupervised and unchecked regulatory organ with little or no Congressional or Executive oversight with questionable efficacy as well as problematic constitutionality pulling almost $1 trillion out of the economy and we're just supposed to take it?

I don't think so.

Hopefully the Supremes will pull the rug out from underneath Sarbox, a bill that actually did little to 'protect the investor' but added one hell of a burden on to American businesses.

It's time for Sarbox to die.

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