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These cases are part of a module of teaching materials that study the major financial events of the first decade of the 2000s and the dramatic shift in civic attitudes that accompanied them. Cases on the so-called Panic of 2001 address the start of the shift in 2001-02 (the complementary materials address the events of 2008 and beyond). The substance of the A and B cases is the civic reaction to the dot-com crash of 2000 and the wave of corporate fraud cases exposed from 2000 to 2002. The A case reviews the dot-com crash, the collapse of Enron, other cases of corporate fraud, and the actions of the president, Congress, and other entities up to July 15, 2002. At that date, Senator Paul Sarbanes and Representative Michael Oxley agreed to meet in a conference to hash out the final draft of the bill to be named "The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002." The dominant issue for the legislators (and for the students) is how tough to make the bill. The task for the student is to compare and contrast the respective bills and make a recommendation for a compromise. More broadly, the case affords the opportunity to reflect on the dynamics of financial crises and why it seems to be that frauds emerge during times of financial instability.
These cases were developed to serve three main teaching objectives: Review the origins of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which at the time was considered the most significant new financial regulation in about 70 years. Reflect on the influence of financial crises and frauds on the civic temperament and legislative action. Critically assess the definition of "financial crisis."