Magazine

Table: Post-Enron Reforms: What's Real and What's Not


The prospects for congressional action.

PENSION SECURITY

-- Employees can sell stock from company matching programs sooner. Count on it.

-- Employers can hire outside advisers to guide workers on investing their 401(k) cash. A lock.

-- Employees get to elect trustees for 401(k)s and pension plans. Unlikely to pass.

CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY

-- Faster reporting of all insider stock trades. Excellent. Could happen in 2003.

-- Suing corporate officers for financial chicanery becomes easier. Dubious. Conservatives oppose.

-- Companies must book stock options as an expense. Good. Has bipartisan backing.

FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE & TRANSPARENCY

-- Closer SEC scrutiny of financial reports. Certain. Commissioners have gotten the message.

-- Investors get more company data and faster. Likely. Treasury Dept. will embrace the idea, but the scope of the rules remains vague.

-- Crackdown on corporate tax shelters. Dicey. The worst may go, but new mutants will emerge.

ACCOUNTING

-- New private-sector board to probe accounting failures and discipline auditors. Certain.

-- Accountants can't consult for audit clients. Good. Big Five are already splitting the roles.

-- Accounting rulemaker FASB overhauled to cut industry and political clout. Iffy. Republicans prefer market-based reforms.

POLITICAL REFORM

-- Banning soft-money donations to political parties. Some measure likely. But corporate cash will find new roads to politicians' pockets.


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