Nationally syndicated radio talk show host and author Dave Ramsey says Sarbanes-Oxley is partially to blame for the mess the economy is in now. What's more, he says temporarily changing one of the law's accounting rules will help to create liquidity in the market so the government doesn't have to spend $700 billion to bail out floundering firms.
Here's the idea, which Ramsey credits in part to a writer at The Economist:
- Allow subprime loan holders to obtain goverment-backed insurance on the loans if they agree to rewrite loans that are more than three months in default as 6 percent fixed rate mortgages and cancel golden parachute payments for current and future executives for as long as the company holds such loans. (Ramsey says this will cost about $50 billion, which isn't much compared to the $700 billion currently on the table.)
- Get rid of the "mark to market" accounting rule in Sarbanes-Oxley temporarily -- and only for certain subprime mortgages. (No cost to taxpayers, according to Ramsey.)
- Eliminate capital gains taxes, which will also cost taxpayers nothing, and will create immediate liquidity.
Since I first read Ramsey's suggestions, I have heard from at least one financial advisor who says the idea might have helped last year, but the problem is more than a balance sheet issue now. There is also the objection that eliminating the capital gains tax aids the rich but doesn't help the average Joe on Main Street.
Ramsey acknowledges the latter, but notes:
The truth is the rich will benefit, but it will be their money that stimulates the economy. This will enable all Americans to have more stable jobs and retirement investments that go up instead of down.