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September 27, 2023

Accounting News Roundup: The PCAOB’s Jealous Step-Sister; Loans for QuickBooks Users; Purple Squirrels | 09.17.15

Wall Street Has Doubts About Fed Lifting Interest Rates [WSJ]
This is what everyone is talking about today so look alive! While lots of people, including Lloyd Blankfein, Larry Summers and Warren Buffett don't think now is the time, contrarians are out there.

SEC says probes hindered by lack of access to stored emails [Reuters]
Enforcement director Andrew Ceresney told the Senate Judiciary Committee that, "there are a number of investigations in which, if we were exercising our authority … to obtain emails from (internet service providers), we would do that." The thinking is that because the SEC brings civil cases and not criminal ones, requiring a warrant (as opposed to a subpoena) to obtain emails is excessive. 

Dewey & LeBoeuf Accounting Fraud Case Goes to Jury [NYT]
And they're getting down to business: "Less than a half-hour into the deliberations Wednesday afternoon, the jury of seven women and five men sent out its first note seeking information about some of the evidence presented during the more than three-month trial in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan. If the tenor of the note is any indication of what is to come, the deliberations in the trial of Steven H. Davis, Stephen DiCarmine and Joel Sanders could be a long one."

Backstabbing in Washington: The Curious Case of the PCAOB [NYLJ]
More on the horse trading over the PCAOB chairmanship from Columbia Professor John Coffee:

The more you succeed, the more you attract enemies. If you outperform all prior occupants of your office, behave like a model gentleman, and achieve what no one thought possible, that will make you a political target, and, worse yet, attract the neurotic envy of all those you have outshone. If one individual among all U.S. financial regulators has earned world-wide respect in recent years—both for his brains and diplomacy—it has been James R. Doty, Chair of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB).

It's a pretty comprehensive look at things, so if you manage to wade through the SOX recap and the initiatives the Board has brought under Doty, you get to this:

Recall Cinderella's two step-sisters. Drab and mediocre, they were still consumed by envy for Cinderella, while somehow convinced of their own superiority and hopeful that they could land Prince Charming for themselves. Once, the Office of the Chief Accountant at the SEC was a prestigious position, staffed by eminent persons (such as Sandy Burton, who later became Dean of Columbia Business School). Burton was one of several SEC Chief Accountants who fought notable battles against "pooling of interests" and other accounting shenanigans. But that was long ago. More recently, the Office of the Chief Accountant has been upstaged by the PCAOB, which negotiates agreements with foreign regulators, issues auditing standards, hires world-class economists (such as Luigi Zingales) as their advisors, and generally gets all the publicity. This has not gone unnoticed at the Chief Accountant's office, which would like to view the PCAOB as merely a subordinate vassal agency. But the media knows better and can distinguish stars from step-sisters. The current Chief Accountant, James Schurr, is a retired Deloitte partner who seems to have taken the protection of the industry as his priority. He has publicly criticized Doty and the PCAOB as "too focused on its disclosure effort and not enough on … the nuts and bolts of conducting audits."

I didn't state it outright yesterday, but the politics around this are pretty fascinating and indicative of just how shrewd the audit firms are. The whole idea that the OCA is hella-jealous of the PCAOB is not something that has been broached before, at least not in an article like this. It further brings to light how Doty's adversaries are plotting behind the scenes to replace him.

Tech Firms Venture Into New Territory: Lending [WSJ]
Among them, Intuit, who is expected to announce that it is partnering witih OnDeck Capital to provide lending to users of QuickBooks.

Companies Fast Track Hiring [WSJ]
"Most companies haven’t adapted to the current labor market and insist on hunting for what recruiters have dubbed 'purple squirrels,' workers with impossible-to-find combinations of skills and experience, according to DHI Chief Executive Mike Durney."

Facebook’s “dislike” button is going to be a disaster [Quartz]
Yep, probably.

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