While I've used this space in the past exclusively to describe what's in the current issue of the magazine, I think a few words about the corporate governance legislation, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 -- some of the most far-reaching lawmaking ever devised about corporate practices -- are in order. This reflects my own thoughts and observations and is not an FEI position.
I think you have to cast back to the New Deal and the formation of the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1934 -- a reaction to the excesses of the 1920s' stock market bubble -- to find a comparable analogy The fact that the latest legislation drew widespread bipartisan support (though, of course, after considerable posturing and horse trading) and was speedily signed by the President gives it a lot of momentum.
The legislation's provisions and possible shortcomings are the stuff for pundits to pontificate on, though history will be the ultimate arbiter. But it's the speedy action by Congress that I'd like to celebrate. It's often argued, and with some validity, that Congress only knows how to react to crises, especially those that threaten members' incumbencies. Republicans sensed they had the most to lose -- at the ballot box if they didn't act aggressively, and at the hands of pro-business constituents if they did. It seems abundantly clear that ballot box fears won out.
Still, in acting expeditiously, members vaulted themselves above the scoffings of skeptics who predicted they would succumb to infighting and never produce a bill. Perhaps it was the approach of the summer recess that produced the speed, and maybe survival instincts steeled their collective resolve. No matter. It got done, and until proven otherwise, the...