Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

On Regulations, Only Dissatisfaction Is Universal

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

On Regulations, Only Dissatisfaction Is Universal

Article excerpt

An international survey finds division in many countries over whether there is too much or too little regulation on business, but there is wide agreement that the current level is not right.

CORRECTION APPENDED

Americans are split almost down the middle on the issue of whether there is too much regulation of business or too little. Residents of most other countries are more likely to think more regulation is needed.

But there is widespread agreement around the world on one point: The current level of regulation is not right.

In surveys of 1,000 people in each of 24 countries, plus Hong Kong, late last year, Edelman, a public relations firm, asked, "When it comes to government regulation of business, do you think that your government regulates business too much, not enough or about the right amount?"

In the United States, 31 percent said there was too much regulation. As can be seen in the accompanying chart, that is a higher proportion than in any other country. But 37 percent of Americans said more regulation was needed.

Regulation is likely to be an issue in the presidential election this year. Republican candidates have asserted that economic growth would increase immediately if the Dodd-Frank law, which was passed in 2010 and increased bank regulation, were repealed. The president has said he sees a lack of regulation before he took office as one cause of the financial crisis. Those views reflect the beliefs of majorities in each party.

"Just like a presidential election, you've got the swing voters as your deciders," said Steve Lombardo, the chief executive of the Edelman unit that conducted the surveys. Independents are more closely divided, but among them, more think increased regulation is needed than believe there is too much.

In only three countries -- Singapore, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates -- are as many as a third of respondents happy with the level of regulation.

Historically, the clamor for more regulation often comes after economic problems that perhaps could have been prevented. …

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