If we still care about financial reform, we should especially care about proposed changes to the Government Accounting Standards Board because, let’s face it, government accounting could really use a helping hand. Were government pensions forced to use the same reporting rules as every other pension, a $3 trillion hole would open up and we would see immediately that rules in desperate need of repair have remained broken because the current system allows the truth to be buried in the footnotes.
As is, GASB is funded by voluntary contributions given by state and local governments out of the goodness of their hearts (yeah right) and through sales of its publications.
The concern is that should GASB be unable to pay the bills, the federal government may be forced to swoop in and babysit. The potential for conflicts of interest should not escape dear reader as this would be akin to investors owning the SEC or Fed-regulated banks owning the Federal Reserve (oh wait, they already do). Is that any worse than what we’ve got now?
How bad is their financial situation? GASB reported a $3.83 million budget shortfall in 2009 and projected a $4.46 million shortfall for 2010.
So why, if we’re still talking about financial reform, are we not talking about its potential impact on GASB?
Under new financial reform rules, the GAO would be forced to evaluate GASB’s role (read: usefulness) in standards setting within 180 days of the proposal’s passage. How likely would it be for the GAO to call an issuer-funded agency that’s allowed government pensions to conceal $3 trillion in liabilities a blaring and obvious failure? The SEC could then direct FINRA to collect assessments from dealers that would go towards funding GASB. Obviously this piece of legislation has been written by Congressmen who don’t know how to do anything without making it as complicated as possible.
Financial reform has already cleared the House while the Senate is expected to vote within the next two weeks after returning from recess.
Voting begins in Senate on Wall Street reform [Reuters]
The latest partisan bickering effort in Congress will get underway today, although the first votes are not likely to be controversial. The first amendment to Senator Chris Dodd’s (D-CT) 1,600 page epic has been proposed by Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and it state “that no taxpayer funds could be used again to bail out financial institutions,” something that anyone up for reelection will likely get behind.
PwC partner Colin Tenner sues over redundancy [Times Online]
Mr Tenner claims that he was let go because of his suffering from depression and anxiety. He claims “mismanagement at PwC and bullying by a client led to him to take sick leave in September 2007. He alleges that he approached PwC in spring 2008 to arrange a phased return to work but says that these discussions broke down, leading to his redundancy.”
Of interest is how the tribunal will decide, “what responsibilities partners at a professional services firm have when one of their number displays signs of stress or becomes mentally ill but wishes to remain in the partnership.” This seems odd primarily because most partners are constantly showing signs of stress and if they’re not, one just assumes they’re mentally ill.
Picower Estate to Pay Billions to Madoff Investors [WSJ]
The estate of Jeffery Picower, a Madoff investor who drowned in his pool last fall, will pay $2 billion to the Madoff trustee in charge of recovering money for investors. This will more than double the $1.5 billion recovered so far.
New Career Path: ‘Risk Intelligence Officer’ [FINS]
Much can be learned from the financial crisis; not least of which is that a lot of companies sucked at managing their risk. Case in point, “risk management” is a prehistoric idea now and one Deloitte principal argues that a “risk intelligence officer” is new sage in this area:
The job of a risk intelligence officer is to assess the organization’s risks and inform business line managers where they need to focus their risk-management efforts.
“They need somebody who can see the big picture and connect the dots,” said [Rick] Funston, who is a principal with Deloitte in Detroit. Deloitte has been encouraging its clients to develop the new role, he said…
Effective risk professionals find a way to discuss systemic failures and take steps to strengthen the organization’s resilience and agility. Part of the job is to understand a company’s vulnerabilities and make it OK to talk about them, institutionalizing the discussion.
Six Flags Emerges From Bankruptcy [Reuters]
Six Flags has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy just in time for summer and now “has more financial flexibility to pursue a shift in strategy toward attracting more families to its amusement parks.” Not sure who an amusement park company would target other than families but it’s nice to see you back in the game, 6F.