My Forbes column appears on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Go here to read, Accounting Watchdog.
Columns for the week ending November 12, 2010:
Non-citizen employees require more care and feeding. That gets expensive and, at times, messy for multinational employers.
The four largest global audit firms – Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers – employ hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. And they move them around a lot. Employees of the Big 4 often work temporarily and, occasionally, permanently outside their home countries…The Big 4 audit firms are less concerned about hiring more foreign workers and recruiting more foreign students in the US right now. The press releases about hiring sprees focus mostly on Europe, India, and China. Results are still fairly dismal here, although all this new regulation does make them hopeful.
For that reason, the Big 4 audit firms have imposed quotas of a different kind…
It’s another problem we have that seems almost impossible to solve – at least not quickly.
How does the US government stop subsidizing perennial problem children Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM) and Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE) but continue to support access to affordable home loans?
We can’t count on the conflicted auditors, PwC and Deloitte, to look out for the GSE shareholders – otherwise known as the US taxpayer. The Big 4 auditors are more worried about making hay of the crises while the benevolent sun of the US government’s “too few firms to fail” policy for their industry still shines…
Former Assistant Treasury Secretary Emil Henry, Jr. is emphatic today in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed. He contends Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been a hot mess since the Clinton Administration, when adult supervision pretty much disappeared…I’m with Mr. Henry.
To allow Fannie and Freddie to exist in any form—even on a smaller basis—would again give them an unfair funding advantage. Buyers of their debt would again pay up for implicit government support. And, once again, we’d have the market distortions, risk-taking and obscene political patronage that caused so much economic chaos.