Accounting News Roundup: EisnerAmper Partner: GM Balance Sheet 'Stronger' Ahead of IPO; KPMG Moves on From New Century, Countrywide; No Bookie Needed for Betting on Grades | 08.19.10

GM's balance sheet draws praise ahead of IPO [MarketWatch]
"Peter Bible, partner-in-charge at accounting firm EisnerAmper LLP, said General Motors is now carrying a much stronger balance sheet than its predecessor, based on the company's initial public offering filed late Wednesday. 'Their debt-to-equity ratio looks handsome,' Bible said in an interview. 'This thing has gotten restructured quite a bit. GM's health care liabilities have fallen significantly. As I look at the balance sheet, it is much healthier.' "

Move to converge just exported crisis [FT]
An accounting professor in the UK is not taken with Sir David Tweedie and felt compelled to write to the Financial Times:

"The ultimate insult to the taxpayer and bank shareholders is Sir David’s comment that the IASB 'is not going to show banks making profits when they are making losses.' This is exactly what IASB’s imprudent mark to market and incurred loss provisioning standards achieved in 2007 and earlier. As a result, the taxpayer and the shareholders picked up the price of the IASB’s reckless accounting model.

Furthermore, I cannot understand why anyone would wish to converge with a US accounting model that has both spawned and exported two major financial crises in the space of eight years."

Settling For Silence: KPMG Closes The Books On New Century And Countrywide [Re: The Auditors]
KPMG has put two major lawsuits behind them - Countrywide and New Century. One major difference between these two cases was that New Century had a bankruptcy examiner's report while Countrywide did not.

Judge Denies Online Religious Group’s Bid for Church Status [WSJ]
A virtual "church" gets denied the whole "church" thing.

For the rich, 'tis better to give than wait [Reuters]
"With U.S. taxes almost guaranteed to rise next year, the rich have a rare opportunity to distribute some wealth and preserve their fortunes.

A weak economy has led to razor-thin interest rates and beaten-down valuations, which make giving less costly for and potentially more rewarding to heirs. Moreover, the U.S. government is widely expected to rein in a popular tax-avoidance scheme.

'This is a golden era for shifting estates and giving assets away,' said Bill Fleming, a financial planner for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Hartford, Connecticut. 'If you have an estate plan, keep going: Uncle Sam soon will be back in your pocket.' "

Wager 101: Students Bet on Their Grades [WSJ]
"The website attracted wagers by 600 students from two colleges last year, said Mr. Gelbart and co-founder Steven Wolf, graduates of Queens College. This month, the site expanded to let students on 36 campuses—including Harvard, Stanford and Brigham Young University—place bets. More than 1,000 new bettors have signed on.

Lisa Lapin, a Stanford University spokeswoman, said school officials were 'appalled' when they learned Stanford students could place bets on their grades, adding, 'the concept of betting on academic performance is contrary to academic development.'

Lance Miller, a finance major at the University of Pennsylvania, says the criticism misses the mark. Mr. Miller, with a GPA of 3.6, won about $80 on two $40 bets that he would earn A's in business courses.

'We're acing classes to make money—isn't that what they call a win-win?' said Mr. Miller, 20."

Facebook's Places Feature Lets Users Share Their Whereabouts With Friends [Bloomberg]
"Services that help Web users share their whereabouts and find nearby friends could generate as much as $4.1 billion in annual ad sales by 2015, according to Borrell Associates. The features can help marketers more easily target customers -- say, by reaching shoppers when they’re close to making a purchase."

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