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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Five years ago the Enron scandal triggered a crackdown on corporate America. Now business interests are saying it’s time to lighten up a bit. A group of business and academic leaders is set to release a report this morning. They’ve been labeled the “Paulson Group” after Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson even though he’s not a member. The report says the COST of doing business in the U.S. is hurting America’s ability to compete. Hillary Wicai has the story.
HILLARY WICAI: The Committee on Capital Markets Regulation argues big changes are needed because the U.S. is losing its competitive edge to stock markets and financial centers abroad.
The main culprit: expensive regulations and lawsuits. As a result the report says the U.S. share of global initial public offerings has declined from 50 percent in 2000 to 5 percent in 2005.
Committee co-chair Glenn Hubbard says steps are needed to reduce regulatory costs. But, he says, the group is not calling for any statutory changes to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which clamped down on corporate accounting standards.
GLENN HUBBARD: The overall Sarbanes-Oxley law is something we praise quite heavily in the report, but believe is too costly.
The report suggests the Securities and Exchange Commission clarify the law’s scope and intent, among other things.
HUBBARD: Liability for auditors and directors are concerns, as well as the trend toward criminal prosecution of entire firms.
The group recommends capping liability. It’s also calling for stronger shareholder rights. Critics of the pro-business approach worry relaxing regulations will be a step backward.
In Washington, I’m Hillary Wicai for Marketplace.
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