Yet Clinton and many other American critics of “quarterly capitalism” have so far ignored the proverbial elephant in the room — America’s mandate that public companies produce earnings reports every quarter. This is the rule that makes quarterly reporting a necessity in the U.S. and underlies all the problems that go with it. International comparisons show that quarterly reporting requirements not only tend to decrease long-term investment, but also increase manipulation of the numbers to please shareholders.It seems Europe gets along pretty well without requiring quarterly numbers. There doesn't seem to be cases of a company having decent profits but still having to lay people off to keep earnings up.
Take Seagate for instance. They are laying off 1050 people but they still made $137 million in profit this past quarter. The quarter before was at $291 million so there was a deceleration in profits but its not like firing those 1050 people will make Seagate roar back into profits any time soon. It is just a trick to save $113 million according to that article. If Seagate never had to report that $137 million number I wonder if they would have cut staff or not? I guess that's something for economists to study.
In any case, companies can still give updates and have investor days and such without having to rush around each quarter and bring out numbers. Sometimes you will have less transparency since you cannot listen to quarterly conference calls and track trends but I think the good things outweigh the bad.
You can have some CEOs make bolder moves because they don't have to worry about losing money in the short term. A company like Amazon would not be penalized so severely for ramping up CAPEX for something like Amazon Apps. People thought Bezos was crazy for spending so much money but now Amazon apps seems to dominate in the SAAS arena.