Sarbanes-Oxley: The Evidence Regarding the Impact of Section 404
Robert A. Prentice
University of Texas at Austin - McCombs School of Business
Cardozo Law Review, Forthcoming
McCombs Research Paper Series No. IROM-09-08
Sarbanes-Oxley is the most important securities legislation since the 1930s, and whether it is ultimately considered a success will likely turn on perceptions of its controversial internal controls provision, Section 404. Indeed, whether the law is a success will likely turn on perceptions of 404. SOX 404 has been savagely attacked, especially for its burdensome cost to corporations and its adverse impact on the competitiveness of American capital markets. This article surveys the relevant empirical academic literature. Although that literature does not purport to (and does not) settle the overall question of whether SOX's benefits generally, or SOX 404's specifically, outweigh attendant costs, it does illustrate that the harshest criticisms of SOX are overblown. Importantly, SOX 404 has demonstrably improved corporate financial reporting in the short-term. Its potential for having long-term beneficial impact is largely dependent upon its being perceived as legitimate by capital market participants. At the moment, its legitimacy is being undermined by criticism that ignores much of the important evidence.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 55
Keywords: sarbanes-oxley act, securities regulation, corporate law, corporate governance, internal controls
JEL Classification: K22, G34
Date posted: June 7, 2007 ; Last revised: November 23, 2008
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