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February 8, 2012

To Envision Dodd-Frank’s Future, Look to Its Predecessor

As fears mount that Dodd-Frank, the financial overhaul law, is about to be emasculated, it’s worth reflecting on the 10-year anniversary of a major regulatory success.

I’m speaking of the mocked, patronized and vilified Sarbanes-Oxley, the law that cleaned up American corporate accounting.

SOX, as it’s known, was a response to an epidemic in corporate accounting fraud that swept American business in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Because the 2008 financial crisis dwarfs that earlier round of scandal, it’s easy to forget how rotten things were, said Broc Romanek, editor of, a site devoted to securities law and corporate governance. “Everyone had lost faith in the numbers put out by big public companies,” he said.

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