Sunday, September 21, 2008

How did this happen--the bailout--its not the first time--accountants weigh in please!

The current bailout isn’t the first time something like this has happened. As I understand the situation (and please correct me if I am wrong), the value of real estate has declined, and there are too many problem or uncollectible mortgages. Didn’t that happen in the 1980s with the savings and loan debacle? On the one hand, on a large or grand scale, it can be difficult to estimate or value when real estate will decline in value, and, for the most part, in general real estate as a whole does not decline in value. However, as I understand the situation, in the late 1990s or the early 2000s Congress eased the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loan qualifying requirements allowing for more risky loans to be made (such as with no money down, or without proof of income). That action, if true, was ill-advised. Does anyone view Congress as being prudent when it comes to issues of money or finances? I don’t. It has also been discussed for some number of years that the real estate market is over heated, and that values may drop. Of course, whether values would drop, and the amount of anticipated drop would be difficult to estimate. How should the lenders take those factors, and the amount of reserves, into consideration? How should the regulatory agencies take those factors into consideration? How should the outside auditors take those factors into consideration? I understand that the outside auditor may well be entitled to take the loan/property appraisals at face value. The point of this discussion is not to find fault. The point is to identify the weaknesses in the system, and to correct those weaknesses so as to better prevent a problem of this magnitude from happening again in the future. And, the problem is a very big problem, which will be paid for by the taxpayers. As I see it, not too long ago a similar fiasco occurred. It is way too early for a similar problem to have occurred. This time the weaknesses in the system need to be fixed. What do you think? How do we fix the problems?

Dave Tate, CPA, Esq.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Corporate climate change disclosures: Xcel Energy settlement with Cuomo

The following is a link discussing corporate climate change disclosures relating to the Xcel Energy settlement with Cuomo.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Auditing firm liable for allowing company to go deeper into insolvency

The following link is to the U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit opinion upholding a verdict against PwC for an alleged negligent audit which allowed the insurance company which it was auditing to go deeper into insolvency.

Deloitte paper, When CFOs Debate

The following is a somewhat interesting paper published by Deloitte, When CFOs Debate. The paper discusses a few of the issues that CFOs face, and then goes one additional step by providing point and counterpoint discussion. The paper is limited in the "advice" category.

Friday, September 12, 2008

IFRS coming to an audit committee near you?

On August 27 the SEC voted to publish for public comment a proposed Roadmap that could lead to the use of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) by U.S. issues beginning in 2014, or earlier. The SEC proposes to make a final decision in 2011 whether adoption of the IFRS is in the public interest and would benefit investors. The possible adoption of IFRS by U.S. issuers has been seriously discussed for at least the past couple of years. Based on this latest action by the SEC, and the volume of IFRS guidance published by the large accounting/auditing firms, adoption of the use of IFRS appears likely. What might adoption mean for audit committees? Audit committee member financial literacy would suggest a future need for some additional committee member continuing education about the differences between IFRS and GAAP. Additionally, generally IFRS tends to be less rules and more principles based, requiring the company and the audit committee to exercise (and justify) greater accounting method discretion and judgment. Some current audit committee members might not be interested in making the effort to learn the important aspects of IFRS, or in having to deal with the conversion process, or in the additional effort that may be required to exercise judgment on a greater number of accounting issues.

For your information, the following is a link to an EY paper that summarizes differences between IFRS and GAAP.$file/us_gaap_v_ifrs.pdf