Wednesday, January 21, 2004

But how could this play?

Excuse me, but I have a problem with where we have got to. It evokes with me the recent news item about the exchange between the British student and the airport security official who aksed what was in her bag. We are expecting too much of langauage and communication.

As I have read your excellent summaries, for which thanks, I come to a view that a manager who does not comply with the act, as determined by a legal process with hindsight, is open to class action by investors. All well and good, so he should be. But since we are talking about powerful middle aged men absconding with billions of dollars and taking companies down in the process, where is the sanction? The billions of dollars wil not come back. Some people may get jailed and it may happen more easily and efficiently than it did with Enron but it doesn't help the investors.

The need investors have is that companies do not get out of control. They need to see the controls as part of their investment decisions. And they need to be able to take corrective action (to reform or to escape) before their money disappears. What we have is an imbalance of power, where managers have much greater ability to disguise their motives (in the investors' interests of course) than the combined other stakeholders, including, it seems, governments, have to police what they are doing. That this power has been handed to them could be the subject of POIWID analysis itself.

So, like Richard, I am interested in the nature of the controls that can be developed and how they affect the balance of power.