SEC Proposes to Exempt More Firms from Required Attestation of Internal Controls

The Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed changes to its rules requiring companies to obtain attestation on their internal controls from an independent public accountant. The proposal rests on the idea that attestation’s costs often exceed its benefits. The SEC’s principal empirical support for that idea is a Journal of Finance article using data from 2004.[1] Since markets have changed since then, over 40 law and accounting professors have petitioned the SEC to replicate the Journal of Finance study using recent data before proceeding with the proposed changes.

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The attestation requirement, known as Section 404(b), is … Read more

The Hidden Nature of Executive Retirement Pay

Since the financial crisis, federal regulators have been searching for ways to rein in excessive risktaking in the financial sector. Many scholars and regulators have argued that executive retirement benefits can serve this risk-curbing function. Because top managers might not receive their promised retirement payouts if their firm goes bankrupt, the theory goes, generous retirement benefits encourage them to manage their firms more carefully. This view—sometimes called the “inside debt” hypothesis—assumes that, through retirement benefits, managers continue to be exposed to the firm’s credit risk after they retire. But no previous work has tested that assumption empirically. In our new … Read more