June 24, 2018

Media

Audit Partners Will Definitely Be Named, We Just Don’t Know Where or How

This from ProPublica: In a letter dated August 15, Jeff Mahoney, the general counsel for the Council of Institutional Investors, a nonprofit that represents investment organizations with more than $3 trillion in assets under management, wrote, "to express our surprise and disappointment in the report earlier this week in the New York Times that the […]

David Cay Johnston Would Like To See More News Articles About More IRS

David Cay Johnston is no stranger to this website, though this website is possibly guilty of the crime he complained about in the Columbia Journalism Review yesterday: Last week, we pointed to a piece of news that we have yet to read or hear from most major news organizations: The federal budget deficit is going […]

ICYMI: Deloitte Pays the Wall Street Journal to Blog, or Something

Who knew?! I have to admit that I wasn't really paying attention, but then again, I don't really cruise the WSJ's paywalled C-suite pages that are impervious to the Google-search-the headline-for-total-access trick. But yes! Deloitte has had an exclusive deal to "sponsor a regular stream of content" at CFO Journal and CIO Journal, for some time and it's all […]

Hey Media, Leave the Accounting To Us Mmmkay?

When Going Concern first launched a year ago, I know we heard more than a few chortles from the audience at the very idea of an accounting news site (or tabloid, depending on who you ask) because, really, how interesting can accounting be? Of course we’ve since learned that cube-dwellers, financial professionals, college kids and accounting enthusiasts are totally into what we do because no one was doing it before and someone had to.

It’s easy to forget that we’re not only utilizing this avenue to rip on obvious boneheads who try to manipulate our precious accounting (we’re talking to you, Patrick Byrne) and make fun of idiot celebrities who don’t pay their taxes but also to bring an accounting awareness to the world at large. It’s not all number-crunching and despite the stereotypes that we ourselves perpetuate, we’re also providing a service by making the obscure world of accounting digestible to non-accountants.

Which is pretty much the entire reason why other media outlets need to back off and leave the really super complicated reporting to us if they’re going to get into things they don’t understand.

Case in point, American Apparel.


The headline was really that American Apparel has been taking the active accounting defense stance lately, getting fired by Deloitte (hint if you’re not into the accounting: that doesn’t happen very often. The other way, perhaps, but the auditors very rarely get spooked and bail like that), rapidly bleeding precious capital and sort of “forgetting” to file important check-ins with the SEC. Oops. That’s where the doubt arises in “going concern doubt”.

In fairness to some media outlets, not everyone bumbled the headline. But for these two, we need to define the term “going concern.” This might be too hipster ironic, even for me.

Thanks, InvestorWords, I’m too lazy to type out this definition myself:

The idea that a company will continue to operate indefinitely, and will not go out of business and liquidate its assets. For this to happen, the company must be able to generate and/or raise enough resources to stay operational.

And then we can get into American Apparel’s future a ‘going concern’ via Marketplace and American Apparel Warns of ‘Going Concern’ via the Los Angeles Business Journal. Yeah, to clarify: that’s what we want, American Apparel has the doubt part to worry about, which was conveniently linked to directly from AA’s preliminary 10-Q to the SEC. See, it’s laid out there for you, all you have to do is read it.

Anyway, I’m not annoyed when people like Emily Chasan write stories about this stuff because she knows what she’s doing. Caleb gets away with it because he knows what he’s talking about. I stick to what I know – ripping on regulatory agencies and bitching about the general state of the industry – and pull it off. There are a ton more accounting writers I could name (Bill at CPA Success, Rick at CPA Trendlines, Francine at Re: the Auditors, Professor David Albrecht, Jim Peterson at Re:Balance, blah blah blah) but I would end up leaving out quite a few talents and I’d hate to offend anyone. Ha.

My point is that you don’t have to be one of them to get the story right. That’s all I’m saying.

The irony of this is not lost on me. I don’t wear American Apparel dammit but I half dress like this awful stereotypical hipster. Don’t ask me what to wear on CPA exam day, I stick to what I know.

Can the FTC Even Deliver on Newspaper Bailout Promises?

newspaper-pages.jpgEditor’s Note: Want more JDA? You can see all of her posts for GC here, her blog here and stalk her on Twitter.
For months there has been the underlying hum of a newspaper bailout in the air – not much surprise there given dropping subscriber numbers and dwindling ad revenues. But in lieu of an actual bailout (i.e. a check from the Treasury), how about some tax breaks and anti-trust waivers?
NY Mag:

At a workshop on the the [sic] future of journalism yesterday, the head of the Federal Trade Commission said the agency is studying ways to help struggling media companies struggle a little less. What might this help look like? It could come in the form of new anti-trust laws, tax breaks, government subsides [sic] or even changes to copyright law.

Well if “journalism” involves rampant copy errors like that, we’re more screwed than it appears.
Tax breaks for mainstream media? Why? I’m a fringe journalist and I still have to pay my taxes, if I don’t bother to tailor my content to my audience to the point that it draws enough ad revenue to pay my bills, maybe I don’t deserve to eat that week.
It gets better.
Rupert Murdoch has long fought Internet news aggregation and would love to see a pay-per-view program for news that — holy shit! — might actually save news. Where do you get yours from? Would you pay for it?
In recent comments, he basically called every blogger who has ever clipped a news article a thief, including Arianna Huffington. You may have heard of her.
Fine, charge for it. I’d pay if it was worth paying for. Would you pay for the recent CNN article that said the Big 87654 ended with more employees than they started with? Me neither.
Point being, Murdoch would rather see news sites charging than peddling for a bailout. I don’t seem to recall major media outlets begging for any bailouts recently, which naturally inspires a healthy skepticism towards the FTC’s comments.
Has the FTC checked this proposed mainstream media bailout “tax break” with the Treasury? Because if I heard correctly, we have $30 billion to put towards Afghanistan now, not to mention the fact that the FDIC is broke and Citigroup is probably going to need a Dubai backstop. I’m not sure if Timmy would be okay with this, better ask him first.

CNN Says that Big 4 Business Is Blowing Up

That’s not necessarily verbatim but they’re definitely buying what the Big 4 bigwigs are selling.

If you saw the asinine CNN piece that came out on Thursday entitled “Accounting grows in shrinking economy“, you know what we mean.

The title itself should cause you to throw up in your mouth. Certainly the author of this gem, Kevin Voigt, isn’t talking about growth in revenues but he still manages to make a case for accounting industry stretrong>just that:

[T]he firms have emerged from the worst with balance sheets that would be enviable to most companies: Ernst & Young and Deloitte finished the 2009 fiscal year with flat growth, while PWC revenues were down 7 percent.

Getting nauseous yet?


Then there’s this:

[T]he Big Four firms continued to add to headcount through the recession. For example, PWC will end the year with 163,000 employees worldwide, an increase of “3 or 4 percent” from last year, Nally said. “There is a core element of what we do that continues regardless of the economy — public companies need audits, tax services need to be provided,” he said.

First, we notice that Dennis Nally conveniently left out that the ‘core element’ of services being provided is being done so with far fewer people. He makes it sound like that if you’re working in the audit or tax practices, your job is safe. We all know that’s not true.

Further, we’ll point out that E&Y did not add to their global headcount. That’s according to E&Y’s own press release for their revenue results.

It’s also interesting to note that the words “layoff” or “reduction in force” are nowhere to be found in the article. Voight manages to sneak it in with some subtlety:

Ernst & Young has kept hiring young college graduates, in part, because it wants to ensure an unbroken pipeline of talent after the crisis, Turley said.

“In a typical year, you would see 15 to 20 percent of our workforce hired away, not by our competitors, but by companies that need financial or tax or other financial talent … that process was curtailed this year because most in the marketplace weren’t hiring,” Turley said.

As a result, Ernst & Young and other Big Four firms have had selective culling of staff in some markets for performance-related issues. “We work in a high performance environment, and for those whom that environment doesn’t fit we’ve encouraged them to leave,” said Quigley of Deloitte.

“Culling of staff”? Interesting choice of words. Then Jim Quigley lies says that Deloittians were “encouraged” to leave the firm. That’s rich. Any former Deloitte people out there that would describe their experience differently?

The article also hints that — because Jim Turley said that typically, ’15 to 20 percent of our workforce hired away’ — the Big 4 had no choice to but to engage in the “selective culling of staff…for performance-related issues.”

To top it all off, Tim Flynn wasn’t even interviewed for this piece. In fact, KPMG is only mentioned ONCE in the whole article but Voight refers to the “Big 4” throughout. From the sounds of it, TF wasn’t in Singapore for the APEC and thus, probably not available (probably caddying). Just as well, if we were T. Flynn, we wouldn’t want our name included in this travesty anyway.

So gives us your thoughts on the latest Big 4 campaigning in the MSM. They make everything sound like it’s business as usual but as the discussion in our Exodus post indicates, the people on the front lines probably have a different opinion.

Accounting grows in shrinking economy [CNN]
Also see: CNN Lies: Accounting Industry Stronger Than Ever, Explosive Even [JDA]