SEC Chairman Levitt speaks about high quality global accounting information

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03 Jan 2001

Excerpt from Remarks by US SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt (PDF 58k) at a conference sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, December 2000: High quality information is the lifeblood of markets.

But unless investors trust this information, investor confidence dies. Liquidity disappears. Capital dries up. Fair and orderly markets cease to exist. As the volume of information increases exponentially, the quality of information for investors and the markets they comprise must be our signal concern. As more countries move to an equity culture, high quality financial information – safeguarded by a rigorous process of corporate oversight – becomes the currency that will drive a more interconnected and global marketplace.

But incentives that bring us a more global market also demand that every market promote the very highest standards at home - not just to compete, but to survive. Like never before, the effects of a company's behavior resonate not only nationally, but more likely, globally. If a country does not have a reputation for strong corporate governance practices, capital will flow elsewhere. If investors are not confident with the level of disclosure, capital will flow elsewhere. If a country opts for lax accounting and reporting standards, capital will flow elsewhere. All enterprises in that country - regardless of how steadfast a particular company's practices may be - suffer the consequences.

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