Let's do some fact checking.
In this post, we'll consider IPOs. Here (above and in the link) is a chart of venture capital backed IPO's per year, as mentioned in a Business Week article for the years 1980 through 2008. The latter, of course, was a dismal year for a variety of reasons. The text of the article informs us that the average number of venture capital backed IPO's in the 80's was 52, while the average of the naughts through '08, was 49. Scant difference, especially considering that in the post-bubble shock and recession of '01 to '03, IPO activity was torpid, and close to non-existant in the recession starting year of '08. The chart also reveals how Dale cherry-picked 1996 as a bench-mark year, with over 250 VC IPO's, the second highest year of the 1980 - 2008 period. In my chart, above, the pink line is a 5 year average, to smooth out yearly abberations, such as the big drop in 1997-8.
Now (chart above) look at the number of VC IPO's from '03 through '07. There appears to be a release of pent-up demand in '04, followed by very respectable, and growing activity after '05 until the '08 collapse. Raw data found here. Venture capital backed IPO's are only a portion of the total, which also includes buy-out backed IPO's, and a remainder with financing unspecified. VC IPO's represent new companies going public for the first time, and are the sub-group most relevant to the discussion. Private equity IPO's are essentially reverse LBO's, and not relevant.
For comparison, here is chart of relative performance of the S&P 500 stock index, which I am taking as a proxy for general stock market pricing activity. Data from Yahoo Finance, graph by me. The graphed line is the percentage increase of the annual S&P average for the subject year, compared to the prior year (YoY.)
Correction: Wrong data in the graph: see Update 1.
I'm not suggesting anything like perfect correlation to the IPO chart, but there is a general similarity. Which only makes sense. When you go public, you want as rich a capitalization as you can get, and an up-market is clearly better than a down-market.
So, sorry Dale. Your first point is very unconvincing. Realistic relevant factors influencing IPO activity appear to be general stock market performance in the year leading up to the IPO (no surprise) and the availability of VC money (also no surprise.) The Business Week article, which never mentions SOX, suggests that VC IPO activity might now be permanently low, inhibiting total innovation, because venture capital is limited.
It closes with this thought:
All of this could prove problematic for entrepreneurs who need VC-style equity investments. If there are fewer VC firms around to put several million into a high-growth startup, some of those firms aren't going to get the investment that they need. And that could mean fewer successful companies like Google (GOOG) and Genentech (DNA) that provide jobs for many people and innovative products that are valuable to all of us.
Update 1: I made a data manipulation error in constructing the Relative S&P Performance graph above. The graph actually represents a year over year change in the running three year average of performance - hence a smoother plot. I graphed the wrong column from my spread sheet. Corrected chart follows. YoY performance in the 80's was generally good, but erratic. The 90's were up-up-and away. The naughts were like Ohio - zeros on the ends, "hi" in the middle. This shows why 2004 was a much better year for IPOs. It was a much better year for the market.
Update 2: As I've indicated, IPO activity in 2004, was pretty robust. Interestingly, it involved not only domestic IPOs, but also a sharp increase in foreign companies listing on U.S. exchanges, as this article from AltAssets indicates. The end of the article quotes Scott Gehsmann, North American leader of PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Capital Markets Group.
'In fact, across virtually every metric - number of deals, size of deals and IPOs by industry sector - 2004 saw a sizable increase over 2003. Moreover, the sharp rise in IPO activity suggests that the enhanced reporting requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley have not had the dampening effect on IPOs that some had predicted,' Gehsmann continued.
The number of non-US companies completing IPOs in the US markets also more than tripled in 2004, with Chinese companies leading the way.
I think Gehsmann might have a better understanding in his field of expertise than Ron Paul does.