Norris: Blame Accountants

Floyd Norris blames much of the crisis on the corrupt Accounting profession:

“That is one of the clear lessons of the financial crisis that drove the world into a deep recession. We now know the major banks were hiding dubious assets off their balance sheets and stretching rules if not breaking them. We know that their capital was woefully inadequate for the risks they were taking.

Efforts are now being made to improve the rules, with some success. But banks have persuaded politicians on both sides of the Atlantic that the real problem came not when their financial inadequacies were obscured by bad accounting, but when they were revealed as the losses mounted. . .

The banks have argued that market values can be misleading, and that their own estimates of the eventual cash flow from assets are more realistic than what they — or others — will now pay for those assets. The rules already allowed them to ignore so called “distress sales” in assessing fair value, but the banks pushed to broaden that exemption in the United States, while in Europe they got the regulators to allow them to retroactively stop calculating market value for assets they said they did not intend to sell.”

That sounds about right . . .

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Source:
Accountants Misled Us Into Crisis
FLOYD NORRIS
NYT, September 10, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/11/business/economy/11norris.html

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