There has been a lot of mention of Sarbanes-Oxley in the context of the failure of MF Global. This might be a good test of whether SarbOx is worth anything.

1. How much of MF Global’s behavior was criminal pre-SarbOx? At the margin, will SarbOx result in the MF Global executives spending any more time in prison?

2. The Enron fiasco drove Arthur Andersen out of the auditing business. Shouldn’t MF Global’s auditors, PWC, be in even more jeopardy? If not, has the auditing industry become “too concentrated to fail,” and does this negate any effect of SarbOx on the big auditing firms?

3. If SarbOx did not deter MF Global, did it deter anyone? Or is this a case of a law which obtained compliance (at great cost in terms of scarce executives’ time) from honest firms, while doing nothing to deter dishonest ones?