Business lobbyists complain that a regulatory tsunami is on its way. But some firms are embracing the proposed reforms
商业游说议员抱怨一场监管海啸正在到来。然而一些公司拥戴被提议的改革

“WHEN people hear the word regulation, they feel stifled, delayed, and many times they believe that government is being intrusive,” said Hilda Solis, America’s labour secretary, on December 7th as she unveiled plans for 90 new regulatory initiatives to improve the lot of workers. If you doubt her word, try mentioning regulation to the boss of an American company. Then stand back and wait for the inevitable explosion.

12月7日,当美国劳工部长希尔达•索利斯宣布90条改善广大工人状况的监管倡议时,她说:“当人们听到监管这个词时,他们感觉令人窒息的,滞后的并且认为政府常常很冒昧。”如果你怀疑她的话,试着向美国的一家公司老板提起监管,然后你就可以靠后站等待不可避免的爆炸了。

Stifled, delayed and intruded upon are the least of the complaints you hear from America’s bosses these days. Their list of grouses includes ever-increasing regulation, stricter corporate-governance standards and the threat of higher taxes in response to the ballooning deficit. This week the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it considered carbon dioxide to be a dangerous pollutant, raising the spectre of clumsy administrative measures to reduce emissions—a prospect even more terrifying to business than the cap-and-trade scheme currently under consideration in Congress. Meanwhile, hopes of business-friendly reforms to America’s convoluted corporate-tax regime, among other things, have fallen by the wayside.

窒息的,滞后的和冒昧的的评价是这几天你听到的来自美国老板的最少的抱怨。他们的牢骚清单还包括不断增加的监管,更加严格的公司监管标准以及高涨的赤字引发的更高关税的威胁。环境保护局本周宣称他们认为二氧化碳是一种危险的污染物,增添了笨拙的减排管理措施的凶兆—一个对商业甚至比目前正在国会讨论中的限额交易计划更有威胁的前景。同时,除了别的以外,对美国复杂的企业税机制的亲商改革的希望也已经落空。

That said, bosses’ feelings about regulatory overkill are much more nuanced than excitable business lobbyists and outraged Republican politicians suggest. “The concern is pervasive but rather amorphous in the sense that different executives have very different worries,” says Joe Grundfest, a former member of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) who now runs a “boot camp” at Stanford University for corporate directors. “Some fret over tax policy. Others agonise over cap-and-trade, or health-care reform. Many worry about additional corporate-governance regulations. It’s a smorgasbord of corporate neuroses out there.”

那就是说,老板们对监管杀伤力的感觉大大地区别于易激动的商业游说议员和愤怒的共和党政客所提起的。现在,在斯坦福大学为董事们经营“海军营地”的前证劵交易委员会成员Joe Grundfest说:“从不同的主管有不同的担忧这种意义上说,担忧无处不在但是相当模糊。一些人担忧税收政策,其他一些人担忧限额交易证策或是卫生保健改革。很多人担忧额外的公司监管规章。在这里,呈现出的是一个多脉系组合式的大杂烩。

Corporate opinion on all these issues is divided. Ms Solis’s campaign on labour is a case in point. Her colleagues at the Department of Labour make it clear that they intend to be more active than their predecessors from the administration of George W. Bush, much as the Department of Justice has promised to be more aggressive in its enforcement of antitrust laws. This will surely increase the overall cost of employing people, undermining Barack Obama’s goal of creating lots of new jobs in the private sector. Yet as Ms Solis points out, the goal of her initiative is in large part to create a level playing field by obliging firms that flout the rules, thereby gaining an unfair advantage over their law-abiding peers, to shape up. Moreover, even at a time of high unemployment, plenty of bosses feel that a reduction in the number of jobs that endanger the health of those who do them would be no bad thing.

市政当局对于所有这些问题的意见是有分歧的。索利斯小姐的劳工运动正好是个例证。她的劳工部同僚们解释到,他们计划比他们的乔治•沃克•布什政府领导下的前任们起到更加积极的作用,尽管司法部已承诺更加严格地执行反托拉斯法。雇佣工人势必会增加总成本—这一观点渐渐侵蚀着巴拉克•奥巴马在私营部门创造更多新的工作的目标。然而正像索利斯小姐指出的,她的倡议的目标主要是想通过迫使一些企业守法以创造一个公平的竞技场—这些企业轻视法规从而获得了他们遵纪守法的同行所没有的优势,进而顺利发展。再者,即使是在高失业的同时,大量的老板仍感到即使裁员对那些这样做的企业来说不是坏事,但是工作的减少仍危害了他们的健康。

A more vigorous antitrust regime will create winners as well as losers. If done well—admittedly a big if—the result could be a more competitive economy that allows smaller, newer firms a fairer shout against sluggish monopolies. Likewise, although there have been plenty of shrill voices complaining that health-care reform will set America on the path to socialism, many business bigwigs, including Jeff Immelt of General Electric and Howard Schultz of Starbucks, have described the current health system as a drag on America’s competitiveness.

一个更加有力的反垄断政治制度既创造出胜利者也创造出失败者。如果做得好—如果是公认的大步提高,结果将是一个更高充满竞争的经济体—允许更小的,更新的公司与迟钝的垄断体进行公平的竞争。同样地,虽然已经有大量的尖锐的抱怨声说卫生保健医疗改革将把美国引向社会主义道路,但是包括通用电气公司的Jeff Immelt 和星巴克的Howard Schultz在内的很多商界要人都把目前的医疗卫生体系看成是影响美国竞争力的累赘。

Much the same is true of climate-change legislation, currently becalmed pending health-care reform. The United States Chamber of Commerce, the most venerable of corporate lobbies, had been fierce in its denunciation of proposed cap-and-trade laws. But it has somewhat moderated its rhetoric lately, after four prominent firms (Apple, PG&E, Exelon, and PNM Resources) quit, Nike resigned from its board and another board member, Duke Energy, cut its contributions in protest. Clean-energy firms, not to mention all manner of companies that simply want more clarity about the future, are keen to see a climate bill passed.

气候改变立法与当下的停滞未决的卫生保健改革如出一辙。最受尊敬的当局游说团体美国商业工会,激烈地谴责被提议的限额交易法案。但是,最近,在四个主要的公司(Apple, PG&E, Exelon, and PNM Resources)退出、耐克离开该董事会以及另外一个董事会成员DUKE ENERGY取消捐款以示抗议之后,该组织稍稍收敛了自己虚夸的言辞。那些不提所有态度仅仅要一个更加清晰的未来的清洁能源公司,渴望气候法案的通过。

There are even splits over the Employee Free Choice Bill, which aims to increase union membership (and reduce employees’ freedom of choice) by replacing secret ballots of workers about whether they should unionise with public ones. Despite what is generally reckoned to be the best funded corporate-lobbying effort ever seen, the Obama administration seems determined to press ahead with this legislation next year, although opponents have vowed to filibuster it in the Senate.更多信息请访问:http://www.24en.com/

甚至连雇员自由选择法案也有分歧。雇员自由选择法案旨在通过替换工人对于他们是否应该与大众工人联盟的无记名投票来增加工会会员(以及减少雇员选择的自由)。尽管被广泛认为是曾经见过的受到资助最多的当局游说力量,但是奥巴马政府似乎决定明年才推进这项立法,尽管对手已经发誓要在参议员阻饶它。

On top of all these changes comes the likelihood of sweeping reforms to America’s system of corporate governance. Various laws under consideration in Congress would introduce such measures as obligatory (but non-binding) votes on executive pay and golden parachutes at all public firms. Another proposal would ban executive pay of more than 100 times a firm’s average wage unless 60% of shareholders approve.

在所有这些改变之上突显出美国当局政府系统的大致的改革。国会考虑的各种法律将引入像针对所有国营企业的行政支出和金降落伞的必要的(但不附有义务的)投票这样的措施。另一项提议将禁止行政支出超过公司平均工资的100倍,除非有60%的股东同意。

Congress is also considering requiring the separation of the roles of chairman and chief executive, annual elections for all board members and the establishment of a committee on every board to focus on risk. The SEC, meanwhile, is expected next year to adopt much-delayed rules allowing big shareholders to nominate candidates for board elections. A new rule introduced by the New York Stock Exchange will end discretionary voting by brokers who hold shares on behalf of clients; these votes have tended to be cast consistently in favour of incumbents.

国会正在考虑要求董事长和行政总裁的职权分开,所有董事会成员一年一选以及在每一个管理层建立一个委员会用来关注风险。同时,证券交易委员会预计明年将采用允许大股东提名董事会成员候选人这样过时的制度。纽约证券交易所引入的一项新的制度将取消为客户利益持有股票的代理商任意的投票;这些票一贯趋向于被投向在职者。

A recent report by Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, a Wall Street law firm, claims all this will “impede the ability of boards to resist pressures for short-term gain and tie their hands at a time when the need for effective board leadership is particularly acute.” It is true that ill-designed attempts to promote prudent and far-sighted management can have the opposite effect. But the report’s lead author, Martin Lipton, is an inveterate defender of management against shareholders (he invented the “poison pill” to deter takeovers in the 1980s).

华尔街一家法律公司Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz最近在一份报告中声称,所有这些将“妨碍董事会抵御短期收益压力的能力,并且每次当对有效的董事会领导迫切需求时,束缚他们。”的确,为提高管理的审慎性和远见性而设计不良的尝试可能产生相反的影响。但是报告的第一作者Martin Lipon是一个股东管理公司的上了瘾的反对者(他在二十世纪80年代发明了“毒丸”一词来抵制收购)。

In practice, corporate opinion is again divided. Several companies have voluntarily adopted “say on pay” policies. Microsoft, for example, has agreed to give shareholders a vote on pay every three years, Prudential Financial has agreed to a biennial vote and Verizon Communications, Intel, AFLAC, Apple and others have adopted an annual vote on pay policy, if not on the actual sums involved.

实际上,公司的意见也有分歧。几个公司自发地采取“让股东决定薪水”政策。例如,微软公司已经同意每三年举行一个对薪水的股东选举;Prudential Financial同意两年举行一次;Verizon Communications, Intel, AFLAC, Apple和其他一些公司举行一年一次的薪资政策选举,也许还有更多公司这样做。

There is no doubt, however, that all this upheaval will create turmoil for America’s boards at a time when firms already have lots to be getting on with. And the longer the economy struggles, the more wayward politicians are likely to become.

然而,毫无疑问,每当公司已有好多事需要去处理的时候,所有重大的变动都将给美国监管部门带来焦虑。而且经济挣扎的越久,政治家们就可能变得越刚愎自用。