Year 2002: Corporate scandals spur reformsIn January, the Federal Reserve ends its streak of cuts to the target federal funds rate, after 11 consecutive reductions in 2001. The Fed leaves the federal funds rate at 1.75 percent and the discount rate at 1.25 percent, the lowest level for the latter since 1948. The economy begins to show signs of improvement.In June, the U.S. Senate votes down a bill that would have made the repeal of the estate tax permanent. A massive tax cut bill passed in 2001 under President George W. Bush would gradually reduce estate taxes and repeal them in 2010. Without passage of additional legislation, a "sunset provision" would cause the estate tax and other tax cuts to expire on Dec. 31, 2010. However, an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts was approved before the deadline.Reacting to several corporate scandals involving Enron Corp., WorldCom Inc. and others, Congress passes into law the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in July. The law requires immediate disclosure of stock sales by company officials and sets stiff penalties for executives who commit corporate fraud. It also creates an oversight board to monitor the accounting industry.In October, President George W. Bush announces a federal budget deficit of $159 billion for the fiscal year 2002, the first deficit since 1997.-- Leslie McFadden
-- Leslie McFadden
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