September 24, 2022

A FASB Override Button?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for panic.jpgEditor’s Note: Want more JDA? You can see all of her posts for GC here, her blog here and stalk her on Twitter.
Over the weekend, I covered an obscure financial reform proposal that may mean taking away final responsibility of accounting standard-setting from FASB af “emergency” switch for use solely in situations of undue financial stress. This type of “escape hatch” might be familiar; the practical application of the Fed’s 13(3) rule left the door wide open for Bear Stearns and AIG.


In regards to Meet the FASB Override Button, I received a note from reader Ron with the simple rhetorical question:

Do you think a system this corrupt can survive in its present form?

He even gave me an out, qualifying the email with “No need to reply.”
Well thanks, Ron, but how in the hell am I supposed to ignore a loaded question like that?
In the article, HuffPo calls it “Civil War in Corporate America”:

Amid the ongoing financial regulation overhaul, the banking industry is hoping to pull off a quiet power grab that has eluded its grasp since the Great Depression, by stripping the independence of the board that sets financial accounting standards.
The mechanism is contained in an amendment set to be introduced in mid-November by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) that would move final authority over the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) from the Securities and Exchange Commission to a new body, a so-called “oversight” board, that would include the officials charged with managing systemic risks to the financial markets.

The Center for Audit Quality came back with a nasty letter to Barney Frank — among others — insisting that accounting setters must remain independent (implying that they have been all along). I assume that the CAQ has forgotten about FAS 157-e by now.
So do I believe in financial reform at this point? No, and I can’t say I ever did. Did I ever believe we could duct tape our way through recovery with a little accounting magic and some confident words from Tim Geithner? Yeah right.
And that therefore betrays my opinion on saving our financial system in its current form. FASB merely exists under the guise of independence, and while European accounting standard setters have a far worse reputation when it comes to allowing themselves to be politically swayed, something must change moving forward.
I doubt that an emergency FASB override button is a step in the right direction to that end.
But if they’re trying to sneak in accounting standard escape hatches, that means something must be working correctly with the currently regulatory framework – they wouldn’t be looking for ways to bypass it if it was totally useless.
Past GC coverage of Congress meddling in accounting rules:
Congress Needs More Testimony on Accounting Stuff They Won’t Understand
Barney Frank Doesn’t Legislate Accounting, He Only ‘Exerts Pressure’
Newt Gingrich Doesn’t Like the FASB

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for panic.jpgEditor’s Note: Want more JDA? You can see all of her posts for GC here, her blog here and stalk her on Twitter.
Over the weekend, I covered an obscure financial reform proposal that may mean taking away final responsibility of accounting standard-setting from FASB and creating a sort of “emergency” switch for use solely in situations of undue financial stress. This type of “escape hatch” might be familiar; the practical application of the Fed’s 13(3) rule left the door wide open for Bear Stearns and AIG.


In regards to Meet the FASB Override Button, I received a note from reader Ron with the simple rhetorical question:

Do you think a system this corrupt can survive in its present form?

He even gave me an out, qualifying the email with “No need to reply.”
Well thanks, Ron, but how in the hell am I supposed to ignore a loaded question like that?
In the article, HuffPo calls it “Civil War in Corporate America”:

Amid the ongoing financial regulation overhaul, the banking industry is hoping to pull off a quiet power grab that has eluded its grasp since the Great Depression, by stripping the independence of the board that sets financial accounting standards.
The mechanism is contained in an amendment set to be introduced in mid-November by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) that would move final authority over the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) from the Securities and Exchange Commission to a new body, a so-called “oversight” board, that would include the officials charged with managing systemic risks to the financial markets.

The Center for Audit Quality came back with a nasty letter to Barney Frank — among others — insisting that accounting setters must remain independent (implying that they have been all along). I assume that the CAQ has forgotten about FAS 157-e by now.
So do I believe in financial reform at this point? No, and I can’t say I ever did. Did I ever believe we could duct tape our way through recovery with a little accounting magic and some confident words from Tim Geithner? Yeah right.
And that therefore betrays my opinion on saving our financial system in its current form. FASB merely exists under the guise of independence, and while European accounting standard setters have a far worse reputation when it comes to allowing themselves to be politically swayed, something must change moving forward.
I doubt that an emergency FASB override button is a step in the right direction to that end.
But if they’re trying to sneak in accounting standard escape hatches, that means something must be working correctly with the currently regulatory framework – they wouldn’t be looking for ways to bypass it if it was totally useless.
Past GC coverage of Congress meddling in accounting rules:
Congress Needs More Testimony on Accounting Stuff They Won’t Understand
Barney Frank Doesn’t Legislate Accounting, He Only ‘Exerts Pressure’
Newt Gingrich Doesn’t Like the FASB

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Are Today’s Accountants Already Occupying Wall Street?

Caleb and I had a talk last night and it made me think about this whole Occupy Wall Street thing. More importantly, it made me think about what I am and am not doing to support it. I haven’t been to a rally, even to take pictures (last time I tried to do that, I was the only one out in front of the Federal Reserve Board at 6 in the morning except for the lone Fed cop patrolling the perimeter).

I get that people are pissed off. I’m pissed off too. I’ve been pissed off, don’t tell me about being pissed off. I was lugging around aFed sign made on top of “Ron Paul ’08” acrylic three years ago, you don’t have to tell me about being pissed off. (Here I am in 2009 on SF Citizen in a “Bernanke 00%” t-shirt at an anti-Iraq war rally)

And I get that for some people, all there is to do is go downtown with a drum and some poorly-written signs on cardboard ripped from your mom’s Costco packages in the recycle bin. That’s totally fine, everyone has their own way of sticking it to the man.

For a lot of Going Concern readers, sticking it to the man means showing up every day in business casual pretending to give a fuck about COSO but actually knowing that it’s all a lie. They work you to the bone until you leave or submit and get promoted to manager. Partner if you’re lucky. Run on that hamster wheel, here have this bonus, keep going and one day you can beat your own subordinates into submission. Go, go, go… Many of you get that this is bullshit but keep showing up every day anyway, and to me, you are your own special kind of protester. Same as last year, motherfucker, it’s the ultimate form of rebellion.

Too much?


Point being, everyone has their own way of screwing the establishment. Francine does it railing against the Big 4. Bill Sheridan and Tom Hood do it at the MACPA with professionalism. Tom Selling does it by riling up fellow academics. Professor Dave Albrecht does it by being seen in public canoodling with known incendiaries like yours truly.

I do it by ripping on the IASB as often as I am allowed to, infiltrating the Hill to sniff out what’s the latest in CPA lobbying efforts and getting in as many F bombs as I can on the dry subject of accounting. That’s all I can do. I can’t abandon my day job to hang out in Manhattan eating vegan paninis. I can make and distribute offensive Bernanke fridge magnets.

I completely understand why people are attracted to Occupy Wall Street; the part I’m struggling with is why so many of the 99 Percenters seem obsessed with this thing called “fairness” that does not, in fact, exist. Is it fair that any of us have to drag our asses to work every day and do what we do? Is it fair that Becker costs $3,000 and doesn’t pass the CPA exam for you? Is it fair that many of you are drowning in student loan debt and seemingly forced to get Master’s degrees just to work in your field? Is it fair that Caleb gets listed in all the accounting publications and I’m stuck as the sidekick hack who always manages to piss people off? This world is unfair, sorry to be the bearer of bad news. I have to write about accounting every day of my life, it’s un-fucking-fair, we get it.

In my view (for whatever that is worth, which is probably not more than our company pays me to write this post), the ultimate rebellion is assimilating and infiltrating the establishment to enact real change from the inside. Are partners scared as shit of this website? Yes. If they’re threatening you with termination if you even dare to write us for advice, we’re doing something right. And I didn’t even have to not shave my armpits to accomplish that (but Caleb probably shaved his).

Are any of you going to independently revolutionize the accounting industry? Probably not. But collectively, you have scared the pants off of lazy ass recruiters and partners across this country who thought you didn’t have it in you. They read us because they feel like they have to or else they’ll lose touch with what you guys are thinking, and it scares the living shit out of them. In my mind, that’s a far more effective message to send the The Establishment, whoever the hell they are.

I fully support the fundamental sentiment of Occupy Wall Street but much prefer fulfilling my incendiary duties here trying to get accounting kids riled up and questioning why they put up with the shit they do. Working mothers in public accounting should be allowed to have children. Interns should be allowed to ask questions (even dumb ones). Auditors should be expected to question last year’s logic. It’s not complicated but it’s important work that a lot of you do, and I hope that you get that.

It is not your fault that we’re here. Many of you just followed the rules.

Thanks for letting me be a part of that. Beats standing around with a fucking sign, that’s for sure.

Earlier:
Wanted: Accountants for Large Protest; Organizational Skills and Experience with Anything Slightly Resembling a Expense Reimbursement Policy a Plus [GC]