Saturday, October 6, 2007

31 Years of Failure

Henry Paulson will form a "21-member committee, which includes a mix of business, regulatory and academic representatives. ... [It] will take a broad look at the auditing industry since [SOX] ... changed the dynamic between accounting firms and the companies they audit. .. Paulson and other Treasury officials have expressed concern about the way the industry now operates, saying it places too much risk on accounting firms if they fail to spot problems. ... The group is part of Mr. Paulson's broader initiative to ... [reduce] regulatory and legal burdens that corporations say are hindering their ability to compete globally", WSJ, 3 October.

Too much risk? This is laughable. What is the Paulson Group's (PG) real purpose? To better protect the Big Four (BF)? Look at the ratings agencies mess. Aren't the BF sufficiently protected by 1995's Litigation Reform Act? I see the PG's findings: strengthen the PCAOB and exempt the BF from class-action lawsuits. Why not, the SEC's expertise and integrity protect the public. Does anyone remember the Ray Dirks fiasco over Equity Funding which culmanated in Dirks v. SEC, 463 US 646 (1983)?. The PG can recycle the AICPA's 1999 lobbying efforts which talked of the CPA profession's successful response to 1976's 1760-page report titled, The Accounting Establishment, generally known as the "Metcalf Report". 1976??? The PG will do as much to protect investors as "The Commission" which met in 1957 at Little Apalachin did.

Daniel Dustin of the New York State Board of Public Accountancy said in May 1999, "When you review the conclusions of the Metcalf report against the realities of the current regulatory structure, you will see that the vast improvements envisioned in 1976 have met with only moderate success. ... Regulatory bodies serve only one master, the public". No, the regulated. The regulatory bodies are almost immediately co-opted. Have we learned nothing in 31 years?

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