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The Goals and Promise of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act

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  • John C. Coates IV
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    Abstract

    The primary goal of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was to fix auditing of U.S. public companies, consistent with its full, official name: the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002. By consensus, auditing had been working poorly, and increasingly so. The most important, and most promising, part of Sarbanes-Oxley was the creation of a unique, quasi-public institution to oversee and regulate auditing, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). In controversial section 404, the law also created new disclosure-based incentives for firms to spend money on internal controls, above increases that would have occurred after the corporate scandals of the early 2000s. In exchange for these higher costs, which have already fallen substantially, Sarbanes-Oxley promises a variety of long-term benefits. Investors will face a lower risk of losses from fraud and theft, and benefit from more reliable financial reporting, greater transparency, and accountability. Public companies will pay a lower cost of capital, and the economy will benefit because of a better allocation of resources and faster growth. Sarbanes-Oxley remains a work in progress -- section 404 in particular was implemented too aggressively - but reformers should push for continued improvements in its implementation, by PCAOB, rather than for repeal of the legislation itself.

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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.21.1.91
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

    Volume (Year): 21 (2007)
    Issue (Month): 1 (Winter)
    Pages: 91-116

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    Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:21:y:2007:i:1:p:91-116

    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.21.1.91
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    Cited by:
    1. Franke, Günter & Krahnen, Jan Pieter, 2008. "The future of securitization," CFS Working Paper Series 2008/31, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
    2. Magdy Noguera & Erick Paulo Cesar Chang, 2014. "Socio Emotional Wealth Preservation in the REIT Industry: An Exploratory Study," International Journal of Financial Studies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(3), pages 220-239, July.
    3. Paolo Polidori & Désirée Teobaldelli, 2012. "Corporate Criminal Liability and Optimal Behavior by Firms.Internal Monitoring Devices versus Managerial Incentives," Working Papers 1216, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Department of Economics, Society & Politics - Scientific Committee - L. Stefanini & G. Travaglini, revised 2012.
    4. repec:dgr:uvatin:2010129 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Humphery-Jenner, Mark L., 2012. "Internal and external discipline following securities class actions," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 151-179.
    6. Jonathan Njoku, 2012. "Surveillance model of going concern in banking," African Journal of Accounting, Auditing and Finance, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 1(1), pages 40-76.
    7. Martina Vitézová, 2011. "Market Perception of SOX Act in the Case of US Listed Banks," European Research Studies Journal, European Research Studies Journal, vol. 0(4), pages 155-170.
    8. Ahmed Abdel-Meguid & Anwer Ahmed & Scott Duellman, 2013. "Auditor independence, corporate governance and aggressive financial reporting: an empirical analysis," Journal of Management and Governance, Springer, vol. 17(2), pages 283-307, May.
    9. Leuz, Christian, 2007. "Was the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 really this costly? A discussion of evidence from event returns and going-private decisions," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(1-2), pages 146-165, September.
    10. Waters, James, 2013. "The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, industrial innovation, and real option creation," MPRA Paper 49173, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Dana Kovanicová, 2008. "Is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act the Right Therapy?," Český finanční a účetní časopis, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2008(2), pages 73-77.
    12. Nejadmalayeri, Ali & Nishikawa, Takeshi & Rao, Ramesh P., 2013. "Sarbanes-Oxley Act and corporate credit spreads," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 2991-3006.
    13. Koning, M. & Mertens, G.M.H. & Roosenboom, P.G.J., 2007. "The Impact of Media Attention on the Use of Alternative Earnings Measures," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2007-073-F&A, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus Uni.
    14. Andrade, Sandro C. & Bernile, Gennaro & Hood, Frederick M., 2014. "SOX, corporate transparency, and the cost of debt," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 145-165.
    15. Altamuro, Jennifer & Beatty, Anne, 2010. "How does internal control regulation affect financial reporting?," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1-2), pages 58-74, February.

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