HR 3817: Investor Protection Act of 2009. We’re going to stop worrying about HR 1207 since “auditing the Fed” was always a fundamentally moronic idea (even when I cheered it in lieu of ending the Fed outright) and worse, just got neutered and rendered more useless.
Sarbanes Oxley (here, since no one even knows what it means anymore) is on the chopping block now, and for some reason a ballet dancer with a serious grudge against the world is going after it. Fine, he’s just a little later than some of us.
The White House is quietly working to undercut a key post-Enron reform, significantly weakening protection for everyday investors and threatening the administration’s image as a champion for financial regulatory reform.
I’m not sure whose image they are referring to but it certainly cannot be this administration’s (and I say that in the most politically asexual way possible). The only part that bothers me about this is the “quietly”, don’t make it so sinister, please.
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has been telling Democratic members of the House Financial Services Committee that he supports amending the Investor Protection Act of 2009 — a bill designed to beef up protection for investors — in order to exempt small businesses from a requirement in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that mandates audits of internal controls. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act was enacted in 2002 in the wake of accounting scandals at Enron and Worldcom that rocked investors and damaged confidence in the markets.
Accounting Onion explains the effectiveness of Sarbanes Oxley in a little more detail than we care to, and if it doesn’t feel like you’re chasing your tail yet, wait, we’re not done.
Former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt made it sound as though investors’ balls — and our only hope of getting out of this mess — were instantly twisted at the news.
Call me absolutely out of my fucking mind but this sounds like a small business bailout to me, at least indirectly. Save small business the costs (and benefits) of extensive audits and allow them to pocket the difference?
Good. While we’re at it, fire the PCAOB to save more money.
The PCAOB seems to think that we’ve got an audit problem. I contend here that the problem is with the auditors, and how many of them are being asked to go in there head down and pretend they don’t see a thing? I talk to them all the time. Does the PCAOB? I tell all of them to take notes when they ask me what to do. You PCAOB people should really see some of this, you’d be absolutely appalled.
Skeptical CPA argues that this was bullshit all along and I agree. He shares a moment at a Houston Financial Reporting Symposium. The PCAOB’s own Charles Niemeier (CN) is kind enough to explain his agency’s uselessness:
Someone asked, “Are PCAOB CPAs competent”? CN fumfered that one. Someone else noted most PCAOB CPAs were “former” Big 87654 partners. CN has no problem with that, since only those with large client audit experience could inspect the Big 87654’s work. Hey, CN, I’ve got some oceanfront property in Arizona to sell you. CN explained Sarbox was passed to prevent fraud. I ask, has Sarbox improved bank accounting? Some CPAs do what I call “disclosure” audits, i.e., they never dig into “non-accounting” data to ascertain the correctness of a client’s accounting records. For instance, looking at industrial engineering reports which might underlie a manufacturing company’s inventory costs. The Big 87654 is full of CPAs who do not understand cost accounting. CN reminded us the “PCAOB can’t reveal its findings”. I ask why not. Who or what is the PCAOB protecting?
I agree, they don’t know cost accounting. Do you know how many of them fail BEC every CPA exam testing window? It gets tiring.
The point is, I’m not sure this is worth bemoaning. Or maybe it’s just not worth caring anymore, they’re going to do whatever they want with accounting.
Worse, Citigroup, Bank of America, SunTrust, LandAmerica (the list goes on and on) all of these large, unstable financial firms continue to get unqualified audit opinions while 1,790 of 1,800 CPA firms have these guys breathing down their necks. Well not LandAmerica, they already failed miserably.