'Tsunamis' ahead for businesses?

Author:Graham, Chris
Position:Washington insights

Many in the business community are monitoring with bated breath the approaching wave of new government rules and regulations, potential changes in long-standing tax policies, a pending fiscal crisis and a plethora and pace of new accounting standards. Pundits have started referring to the gathering waves as a "tsunami" of epic proportions that could change the way senior-level financial executives and their companies operate.

There's an impending tax tsunami, a regulatory tsunami and accounting tsunami--all the results of recent efforts undertaken by the federal government and members of Congress, and with more on the horizon.

The market meltdown of September 2008 was the seismic activity that caused and brought more attention to these metaphorical storms. The recession has meant a larger role for government in the business sector, beginning with the bailout, choreographed by then-President George W. Bush and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

And since taking office, President Barack Obama has surpassed those early efforts with a $787-billion stimulus package, increased scrutiny on government contractors, health-care reform and, most recently, financial regulatory reform.

Many in the business world understand or have acquiesced to the notion that some reforms were warranted after the events of recent years. But concerns persist that the resulting increased deficit and regulatory burdens will stifle the economy and job growth during this fragile time.

After the devastating Indian Ocean disaster in 2004, we're all well aware of the destruction tsunamis can cause to coastlines. But are such comparisons justified to recent events of concern to financial executives and their companies, or is it hyperbole?

Answers to this and many others questions will be the focus of FEI's inaugural Washington Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 20-21. The conference will focus on topics that matter to senior financial executives, covering the political realities and paradoxes that lawmakers will grapple with after the midterm elections.

The conference is essentially an FEI member's backstage pass to Washington, featuring experts and government officials who exit left and right on the political stage.

To get the federal government's point of view, FEI has confirmed as keynote speakers U.S. Securities and Exchange Commissioner Kathleen Casey and Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Douglas Shulman, who will discuss their respective agencies' goals...

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