Wednesday, February 8, 2012

To envision Dodd-Frank's future, look to Sarbanes-Oxley

Jessie Eisinger wrote an article in the NY Times Dealbook that suggests that Dodd-Frank might turn out to be much better than is currently thought based on the experience of Sarbanes-Oxley.

There is only one problem with this analogy.  Since the beginning of the financial crisis, the financial statements put out by all of the major US financial firms have been completely meaningless.

For example, thanks to Bloomberg and Mark Pittman, we found out just how much money these firms received from the Fed but did not report.  Thanks to the former Chief Accountant for the SEC we found out that this money should have been reported.  Is this a problem?

For example, at the start of the financial crisis, we saw the end of mark-to-market accounting and the implementation of 'mark-to-myth' accounting.  What else can you call the accounting when it has Level 3 assets that are valued on the basis of unobservable inputs?

As this blog has previously written, Dodd-Frank was basically written by the financial industry for the financial industry, would not have prevented the last crisis and holds out zero hope of preventing the next crisis [please note, your humble blogger does think it does have one positive element:  the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but time will tell if the financial industry can undermine this new regulator].

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