Saturday, November 24, 2007

Accounting Slips Backward

"The [SEC] took an important step toward what many hope will eventually lead to a global accounting standard, dropping a requirement that non-U.S. companies with U.S. listings reconcile their results to U.S. rules. ... [The SEC's action] could eventually pave the way for the abandonment of U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. ... Chairman Christopher Cox called the step 'significant' and said the agency's acceptance of international rules signaled the continued convergence between these standards and U.S. GAAP. ... Despite the growing connections between international markets, countries and regions still differ sharply in who those markets are intended to serve first. In the U.S. and the United Kingdom, markets are generally investor-driven. ... Elsewhere in Europe, investors' needs often take a back seat to corporate or political goals. ... Proponents of a single, global accounting system say sufficient protections could assure that the body that crafts international rules, the IASB, is buffered from political interference", WSJ, 16 November.

I don't see how this helps US investors. Accounting rules are and always will be politically influenced. No US accounting rules body has ever been immune to political influence. Why could other countries which are higher on the corruption scale than the US, help create such a body? I agree, the US and other countries capital markets are converging; to more closely resemble those "elsewhere in Europe", i.e., "investors needs often take a back seat to corporate or political goals". Why did President Bush put Cox on the SEC? Was it to protect investors, or to protect issuers from investors?

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