Dealing With the World

DEALING WITH THE WORLD….Is the increased corporate regulation required by Sarbanes-Oxley making London into a more appealing financial center than New York? Clay Risen says there’s probably some truth to this, but suggests there are also bigger factors at play:

Even more significant is the perception that the United States is culturally and politically averse to the international market system. It is hard to express just how offended the global finance world was by the blunt nativism surrounding the Dubai Ports World debacle earlier this year, or the rise of protectionist sentiment in Congress, or the fact that it is now much harder for international financial workers simply to move in and out of the country ? a key requirement in a fluid global economy. “Just getting into America, even if you’re British, is an issue,” one headhunting executive told The New York Times. ”We’ve had candidates that arrived for an interview, were told they couldn’t leave a room in the airport, and were put on the next plane back.”

Some of the requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley may be overly onerous, and Democrats would be well advised to at least consider modifying some of them. In the same vein, while we should take a harder look at trade deals, we risk losing a considerable amount of global influence if we end up in full-blown protectionist mode. Ditto for fear-driven security policies that make it a hassle for even garden-variety corporate executives to visit our country.

It’s Sunday, so I don’t have a lot more to say about this. But I think Risen makes a sensible point: Sarbanes-Oxley may need some tweaking, but it isn’t the bogeyman that conservatives seem to think it is. Likewise, putting a freeze on trade deals isn’t the panacea some liberals seem to think that is. Centrism may sometimes seem like nothing more than a tic, but in this case it makes a lot of sense.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation