Miron, who has also written lately against the Buffett Rule and for pot legalization, calls the FCPA difficult to enforce, which gives those who are clever enough to evade the law a material advantage in the market.
Apparently there has been a wave of stupidity in corporate offices lately.
At least 81 companies are now under investigation for FCPA violations. Other companies, like Lakeland Industries (NASDAQ:LAKE), are complaining loudly that the FCPA is hurting their sales because they can't bribe people.
The FCPA Blog, which came up with the current list of non-clever bribers, agrees with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that there should be a "good faith" exception to the FCPA. But the editors there doubt WalMart could use it.
Opposition to the FCPA is based on cynicism about foreign politicians and business practices. They're all on the take, goes the argument, and failing to pay baksheesh is letting other countries eat our cheese. But somehow U.S. companies managed to export $181.2 billion in goods and services during February, despite this enormous burden.
Of course there are other good reasons for the FCPA, which was amended in 1998 as the International Anti-Bribery Act to put U.S. law onto a level playing field with our major trading partners. After all, if it's OK to bribe foreign governments, why shouldn't it be OK to bribe American governments? I mean, if we assume they are all crooks.
At the end of the day, the trouble WalMart has gotten itself into may indeed be based on choices made by previous Administrations to look the other way in the face of obvious violations of law.
It's the inconsistency of law enforcement, rather than the law, that WalMart and its investors should be upset about
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.