Free and competitive markets have lifted more people out of poverty than any other economic system in history and, yet, the image of capitalism is badly tarnished. While there are countless well-managed and responsible businesses, we have also witnessed too many instances of companies acting in ways that are corrupt or short-sighted, or both, and harming ordinary people in the process.
The Barclays mess is yet another blow to the public's confidence in the integrity and competence of business. And the scandal will continue to widen as more firms are implicated and investigated. Regardless of whether regulators are also culpable in the rate manipulation, too many people will look at the situation and once again conclude that business is a rigged game.
Public excoriation of a CEO, clawback of bonuses, dismissal, or even jail-time for senior executives are all appropriate reactions. But they are not enough. We must finally draw the curtain on what remains one of the least transparent and accountable institutions in the world today — the board of directors. While Sarbanes-Oxley increased the liabilities board members' may face, board members are rarely held accountable for a company's failures and most shareholders know very little about how a board room actually operates.Page 1 of 5 | Next Page