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Accounting News Roundup: Sarbanes-Oxley and Exoplanetary Accounting | 02.23.17


One of the things that some people took way from Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric about deporting immigrants, banning Muslims, building walls and whatnot was that he was pro-business. That really hasn’t come to pass in the early weeks of his administration, what with all the deporting of immigrants, banning of Muslims and building of walls, but, HEY! they’re gonna get to it eventually.

When Trump talked about getting rid of regulation in the campaign, he focused on Dodd-Frank; but according to this Bloomberg article, every accountant’s favorite piece of legislation, Sarbanes-Oxley, is in the crosshairs, too:

The law has been on Trump’s radar for years. It required chief executives to swear to the accuracy of their books and set new, expensive rules for auditing the internal controls companies use to catch wrongdoing. In a 2008 CNN interview, the then-real estate mogul and reality TV star, said Sarbanes-Oxley was a classic case of government overreach, noting “it really puts this country at a competitive disadvantage.”

“Those of us who opposed Sarbanes-Oxley at the time it passed, said it was going to be a disaster. And it has turned out to be,” says a guy channeling Trump. The people who believe SOX has been a disaster think it’s bad because so many fewer companies choose to go public. But is that really a bad thing? Shouldn’t having access to billions of dollars in public money be difficult? Companies that want to go public always seem to do so, even if it’s a slower process than it used to be. So why would anyone care if mom and pops can get listed?

It just seems a little reckless to allow companies that can’t be bothered to have decent internal controls or whose executives don’t want to attest to the accuracy of their financial statements to access public markets. Maybe that’s just me. In any case, if the Trump administration wants to make changes to SOX, that requires Congress to change the law and who knows if that’s a thing they do anymore.

Exoplanetary accounting

I don’t care who you are, NASA’s announcement of the discovery of seven Earth-like planets outside our solar system is exciting. The seven planets reside in the TRAPPIST-1 system about 40 light years away, a stone’s throw in interstellar travel. It’s especially fun not only because these planets have decent odds of supporting life, but also because scientists think that one of them is  basically be Hoth:

Based on their densities, all of the TRAPPIST-1 planets are likely to be rocky. Further observations will not only help determine whether they are rich in water, but also possibly reveal whether any could have liquid water on their surfaces. The mass of the seventh and farthest exoplanet has not yet been estimated – scientists believe it could be an icy, “snowball-like” world, but further observations are needed.

All seven planets are extremely close to their sun and each other. So much so that, “If a person was standing on one of the planet’s surface, they could gaze up and potentially see geological features or clouds of neighboring worlds which would sometimes appear larger than the moon in Earth’s sky.” Naturally, there’s already tourism marketing being put together.

What’s this got to do with accounting? Admittedly, not much, but I don’t think it’s too early to start thinking about exoplanetary accounting. At the rate things move here on Earth, if you get started now, you might be finished with some basic concepts by the time the first starships arrive on TRAPPIST-1.

Has Donald Trump released his tax returns?

Nope! But Senator Susan Collins of Maine told Maine Public Radio that she’s open to the idea of subpoenaing Trump to investigate his returns to determine what, if any, connections he has to Russia. So that would be interesting.

Previously, on Going Concern…

Josh Tarica, founder of Beech Valley, an Accountingfly partner, wrote about the Big 4 myth of staying until manager.

In other news:

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Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech