Staying in the trading game

Alisa Roth Nov 20, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: Henry Paulson’s a man with a lot on his mind. He’s got the budget deficit to worry about. A weak U.S. dollar. And an economy that’s slowing by the quarter. But he took time out today to talk about the rules. Paulson’s been mentioned a couple of times in the past few months in stories about corporate America wanting to revisit Sarbanes Oxley. That’s the corporate governance law Congress passed following Enron.

His support for reforming the reform law has been tacit, never explicit. Until he started speaking this morning. Paulson’s worried about the U.S. staying competitive. About whether too many layers of rules and regulations are driving some business away. And choking the ones that stay. Marketplace’s Alisa Roth has more from New York.

ALISA ROTH: Henry Paulson thinks the U.S. needs to loosen its regulatory rules if it’s to stay competitive in the world market. In his wide-ranging speech to the Economic Club of New York, he touched on issues from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to how few IPOs there’ve been on U.S. markets recently.

He also says he wants to focus on the accounting industry and the issues it’s facing:

HENRY PAULSON: Some of those come out of the overall regulatory situation we have in the U.S., focus on the legal system and our overall regulatory structure.

He says Sarbanes-Oxley does not need big changes. But there is need for caution about how the law is implemented. Especially the ways it will affect small businesses.

Larry Ribstein is a University of Illinois law professor and co-author of the book, “The Sarbanes-Oxley Debacle.”

LARRY RIBSTEIN: One key move would be to allow managers and auditors to focus on the things that really matter to the business, rather than wallowing around in detail.

But Duke law professor James Cox argues that for markets to be attractive, they have to be trustworthy.

JAMES COX: Trust is a product of strong enforcement and meaningful guidelines for businesspeople as to what they should be doing.

He says the last six years have seen the most deregulated markets in our history, and he doesn’t understand why anybody would call for less.

In New York, I’m Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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