AARP cool to web forums for shareholders and management


SEC Chairman Christopher Cox thinks that the internet should be a great place for investors to have access to broader information about the companies they're considering investing in than ever before.

According to The Wall Street Journal (subscription required): "Mr. Cox also is expected to put up for final vote Wednesday a proposed rule that would enable companies to create online shareholder forums where investors and management could exchange thoughts, establishing a kind of chat room to improve communication. Opposing that model is the AARP, the lobby group for adults 50 and older, which said its studies show that doing so would result in fewer of its members participating in shareholder elections."

Huh? Why would being allowed to interact with management online make people less likely to vote in corporate elections? Isn't that kind of like saying the YouTube presidential debates would reduce voter turnout?

An online forum for shareholders and managers is a fabulous idea. One of the biggest corporate governance concerns in America is that executives are isolated from the owners of their companies. With notable exceptions, it's hard for investors to get the ear of a corporate executive to ask questions or provide ideas for boosting shareholder value.

Online forums would be a way to facilitate that, and it's something that should be cheered.