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Accounting News Roundup: SEC Behind on XBRL; Ackman Warns PwC About Herbalife; Sexy Spreadsheets | 09.11.13

U.S. House panel probes obsolete technology at SEC [Reuters]
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa sent a letter on Tuesday to Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White asking for an explanation of why the regulator has been so slow to embrace the use of eXtensible Business Reporting Language, or XBRL, even as she seeks more funds to hire additional staff. "Interactive data in financial reporting offers the opportunity for increased speed, accuracy and usability through automation," Issa wrote to White. "Given the SEC's awareness of interactive data's potential, it is surprising that the SEC has not yet integrated interactive data into its internal review processes to improve efficiency or reduce costs," Issa wrote adding that the regulator was relying on "printouts, pencils and calculators".

Darning Socks: Audit Report Proposal Promises More Holes Down The Road [Re:The Auditors]
A sampling from Francine's take on the PCAOB proposals: "Now that audit firm rotation in the US is essentially blocked by the negative vote in a US congressional committee, the PCAOB proposal throws in a requirement for auditor tenure information to satisfy investors who still have the urge to know at least the age of the auditor-client relationship. Audit firms and corporations strongly object to this requirement because it might be “misleading”. Apparently there is no current academic research that definitively answers the question whether long auditor tenure negatively impacts auditor independence and objectivity. I wonder why accounting academic community, funded by research grants from the Big 4 firms and encouraged by Big 4 recruiting of their students, still hasn’t put this important question to bed?"

Ackman blasts Herbalife’s accounting [NYP]
Bill Ackman is taking his battle with Herbalife to the company’s outside accounting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers. Ackman’s Pershing Square hedge fund has fired off a 52-page letter to the auditor, detailing “serious accounting, taxation and disclosure issues” at the controversial nutrition products company. The Aug. 29 letter, which was sent to Pershing’s investors last night, follows a 13 percent gain in Herbalife shares this month, fueled by speculation that PwC is on the verge of signing off on Herbalife’s financials. Some analysts and investors speculate that the completed audit would allow Herbalife to finance a $2 billion share buyback — crushing Ackman’s $1 billion short on the company.

Camp: Ways and Means 'to step up the pace' on tax reform [The Hill]
Camp acknowledged that the congressional calendar would be packed this fall, but also said the committee would go full speed ahead on tax reform. Other Republicans on the panel have also said they expect to concentrate heavily this month on getting a bill ready for a committee vote. “There’s a lot on the table, both in terms of CR, debt limit, sequester,” Camp said. “A lot of this is in the jurisdiction of the committee.”

The best compliment a CPA can receive. [Twitter]

The Rich Get Richer Through the Recovery [Economix]
The top 10 percent of earners took more than half of the country’s total income in 2012, the highest level recorded since the government began collecting the relevant data a century ago, according to an updated study by the prominent economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty. The top 1 percent took more than one-fifth of the income earned by Americans, one of the highest levels on record since 1913, when the government instituted an income tax. The figures underscore that even after the recession the country remains in a new Gilded Age, with income as concentrated as it was in the years that preceded the Depression of the 1930s, if not more so.

Man Blasted for Working on 'Crowded' Subway Delivers Perfect Response [Gawker]
This is perfect.

Posted in ANR