Everyone in the know knows that coming at Francine McKenna is generally not a good idea. Not only will she reduce you to a sniveling pile of human waste, she'll use your carcass to mop up your tears and then tell the Internet all about how she made you cry and send you a dry […]
Since we wouldn't want you all going through GC DTs over the weekend, we're implementing a Saturday Open Thread. You are welcome to hijack the thread with your own concerns such as salary issues, work-life balance or the lack thereof, disconcerting March Madness rules at your firm, your colleagues' unfortunate wardrobe choices or the bizarre […]
John Carney wonders aloud if Citigroup’s low reserves (approximately $1b reserve for $500b in exposure) for its repurchase risk is thanks to the guidance provided by KPMG. Citi has said that they are, “comfortable with this level of reserves because historically realized repurchase risk has been quite small.” Carney explains, “In short, they haven’t had to pay out much on these claims in the past, so they figure they won’t pay out much in the future.”
Be that as it may, JC and his colleague, Ash Bennington are pret-tay sure Citi has it wrong (they lay out their case in full) and speculates that KPMG is, at the very least, an enabler here.
Carney points out that Francine McKenna has been following KPMG’s not so stellar guidance on this particular issue for years. Starting with New Century in 2007, Wells Fargo last year and Countrywide who was purchased by Bank of America.
Carney then writes that Bank of America is “widely assumed to have the largest repurchase risk, largely thanks to the acquisition of Countrywide.”
So that’s a helluva trail to be sure and Carney wraps up:
So is the advice of KPMG part of the reason for Citi’s complacency when it comes to repurchase risk? Given the history of companies audited by KPMG missing repurchase risk, perhaps Citi should rethink that complacency.
Of course Carney forgets that Dick Bové would take exception with everything he’s saying, since this firm is perfectly acceptable. Even if he doesn’t know who they are.
We’d like to get anyone familiar with the matter (read: Citi audit team members) on the record, so get in touch and we’ll put it out there. Or you can chime in below.
“The Big 4 don’t even like being called AUDITORS. Rather they provide ‘ASSURANCE Services,’ and act as ‘TRUSTED ADVISORS.’ This isn’t just rhetorical. It’s a cynical PR move and an effort to limit their liability.”
SEC Shakes Down Banks on Repurchase Accounting [Compliance Week]
The SEC has received information from 19 “financial institutions” on their repurchase accounting that could help determine if the treatment at Lehman Brothers was ” an outlier in classifying asset repurchase agreements as sales even when those assets were destined to return to the balance sheet.”
Compliance Week reports that Steven Jacobs, associate chief accountant in the Division of Corporation Finance at the SEC said that the Commission wants companies (i.e. banks) to be more forthcoming in their disclosures, “In a situation like this, s a snapshot in time.” Disclosures should more clearly describe the company’s economic situation and its liquidity apart from the moment-in-time snapshot, he said. “I would be willing to bet companies would be more willing to do that if that position on the balance sheet didn’t look as good.”
2010 Gerald Loeb Award Finalists Announced by UCLA Anderson School of Management [UCLA]
Congratulations are due to our own Francine McKenna (look for her column later today) who was named as a finalist for a Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism in the “Online Commentary and Blogging Category” for her work at re:The Auditors.
Other nominees include Adrian Wooldridge, Steven N. Kaplan, Nell Minow, Patrick Lane, Brad DeLong, Luigi Zingales, Saugato Datta, Thomas Picketty and Chris Edwards for “Online Debates” for The Economist; David Pogue for “Pogue’s Posts” for The New York Times; Jim Prevor for “Business, Finances and Public Policy” for The Weekly Standard.
Rewarding Failure [Portfolio.com]
The old idea of combining the SEC and the CFTC came up again last week and Gary Weiss thinks that it’s a terrible idea. Be that as it may, he thinks that it may “have some mileage” since some big names have recently come out to support the idea, including Mary Schapiro who was posed the question “can you explain any rational reason that both the CFTC and the SEC exist?”:
Schapiro’s response was wordy, but it boiled down to a qualified “yes.” If it were up to her, she said, there would be just one agency. Headed by her, I presume.
Evidently this seems to be a trend. Only about a week ago, the idea was endorsed by Arthur Levitt, the former head of the SEC. He told Barron’s that merging the two agencies is “so basic to any kind of regulatory reform, that to neglect that is really outrageous.”
Gary argues that an independent CFTC could “light a fire under a somnolent SEC” with the right leadership, although the current team doesn’t seem to be up for the job. If that continues, he adds, we could end up with one large(r) ineffective bureaucracy protecting the markets.
Pabst’s New Owner Built Fortune on Old Brands [WSJ]
The Journal has learned that Pabst is being purchased by investor C. Dean Metropoulos who has made a fortune in food branding. His past investments include Chef Boyardee, Duncan Hines and several others.
Pabst was up for sale after the IRS forced the sale by California-based Kalmanovitz Charitable Foundation. The Foundation had owned the company for a decade, after the Service allowed a five year extension for the nonprofit to own a for-profit business.
In part one of our discussion, we discussed audit firm failure and why the business model is not sustainable in the current form. We will now look at questions about what the aftermath of a Big 4 firm failure could look like and what some various paths could be:
Why isn’t a “Big 3” audit firm situation sustainable?