Corporate responsibility key to restoring some confidence in economy

Posted: Monday, July 22, 2002

The rush of corporate scandals looks like a prairie flood covering the landscape. Congress and President Bush have begun to wade into the scandals but they better start swimming harder.

Without a strong response from elected leaders, the damage to the nation's financial system will be deep and long-lasting. ...

Congress and the president now have focused on making the extensive changes that can produce more open markets and greater corporate accountability. With Wall Street likely facing a period of market distress like what occurred last week, quick decisions may not turn the market around immediately. But they will at least set the stage for greater confidence.

The stock market's fall seemed to grow out of a series of public concerns, all centered on people gaming the system. As has occurred in the wake of past economic booms, the country must draw lessons from irresponsibility and rule-breaking.

The brightest future for the economy will come from a series of measures that create new regulations and stronger laws set in an environment where personal responsibility is encouraged. That won't happen quickly, but the economy's troubles built gradually to their current level of severity.

The United States, which just five years ago confidently lectured Asia on the value of transparency in financial dealings, now finds that it must prescribe some of the same medicine for itself. Corporate leaders must practice personal accountability -- and the public must have the means to see that businesses are practicing what the president preached to them.

-- Seattle Post-Intelligencer

July 14

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