Stories That We Wish Would Just Go Away

Apparently Accounting Rule Convergence Is Not 100% Total Convergence

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for merge.jpgYesterday the FASB and IASB got together and spent 23 pages convincing everyone that convergence of accounting rules will happen by June 2011. If you haven’t been convinced by the steps one paragraph statement that was issued saying how ‘encouraged’ she is about the latest re-re-affirming.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that there will be a single set of accounting rules — for the entire financial reporting universe — rolled out and everything will be right with the world in June 2011.


But will it be a single set of standards? Edith Orenstein of FEI Financial Reporting Blog:

It is interesting to note that the FASB-IASB joint statement speaks in some places of converging to a ‘single’ set of standards, and in other places of converging to a ‘common’ set of standards. To some, these terms can mean a world of difference. However, the terms are often used interchangably by many different parties. For example, here are some excerpts from the joint statement:

We are redoubling our efforts to achieve a single set of high quality standards within the context of our respective independent standard-setting processes.
Our goal is to develop together common standards that improve financial reporting in the US and internationally and that foster global comparability. Achieving such improvements is consistent with the objectives of the IASB that are set out in the Constitution of the IASC Foundation. It also fulfils the responsibility the FASB has under US law and the Securities and Exchange Commission’s 2003 Policy Statement to consider, in developing standards, whether international convergence is necessary and appropriate in the public interest and investor protection.

(emphasis original)
That clears it up, doesn’t it? So it’s either a “single set” or “common standards”? FEI Blog thinks it’s a progression, “Presumably, once a set of ‘common standards’ is acheived, the next step would be to officially adopt one set (again, presumably, IFRS, which is used in over 100 countries) as the ‘single’ global standard.”
While this may be the case it still doesn’t mean that everything will be the same.
CFO:

“Convergence doesn’t necessarily mean the same,” says D.J. Gannon, a Deloitte audit partner and the firm’s expert on international financial-reporting standards. In fact, Gannon says, there is no expectation that any of “the lingering differences” between rules that are already converged will be handled through standard-setting. “So the bottom line is that companies [reporting results under U.S. generally accepted accounting principles] are going to have to deal with those differences if they apply international financial-reporting standards at some point in the future.”

Good lord. So for all practical purposes, it sounds like there will still be differences. Frankly, we’re disappointed in this revelation. If someone had told us from the get-go that it wasn’t going to be 100% the same accounting rules we wouldn’t have made such a big stink about the absolute impossibility of the endeavor. Going forward we’ll be taking this even less serious.
FASB, IASB Reaffirm Convergence By June, 2011 [FEI Financial Reporting Blog]
“Convergence Doesn’t Necessarily Mean the Same.” [CFO]

Grant Thornton Survey: 40% of CFOs Never Ever Ever Want IFRS to Replace GAAP

dragging.jpgAll this IFRS hubbub is going to be expensive and time consuming anyway so let’s just forget it, shall we?
Eh, not so fast, IFRS haters. The remaining 60% of the respondents did state that they thought that IFRS should be required at some point in time, including 7% that want it ASAP, thanks.
Part of the resistance may be that lots of CFO/controller types have got no idea how IFRS is going to affect their company’s reporting. GT’s survey shows that 90% of the respondents don’t use IFRS currently and earlier this summer another survey cited that many CFOs weren’t even sure how IFRS would affect their reporting.
The IASB is clearly serious about the whole thing, and the FASB, while less excited, seems to be on board, along with big shots like Jim Turley. Finance execs can stall all they want but eventually IFRS will be all up in their business. Probably should get crackin’.
40% of U.S. senior financial executives don’t want IFRS to replace GAAP [GT Press Release]

We’d All Appreciate It if Grant Thornton Got Involved in a New Lawsuit

bondi_enrico01g.jpgGrant Thornton just isn’t able to shake Parmalat, the freaky-ass extended-life milk company. Parmalat appealed the latest dismissal of its lawsuit against GT and Bank of America that accuses the two companies of helping set up phony transactions so “insiders could steal from the company.”
Parmalat’s Chief Milk-Magician, Enrico Bondi, is obviously not satisfied with the $100 million that he twisted away from BofA and will continue to hassling both companies until long past the expiration date on his product.
Parmalat appeals BofA, auditor lawsuit dismissals [Reuters]

McGladrey & Pullen Might Want to Think This Whole Divorce Thing Over

gulbis3.jpgThe accounting firm soap opera between McGladrey & Pullen and RSM McGladrey continues as RSM has filed notice terminating the two firms’ agreement and, under no circumstances, will they allow M&P to come crawling back to them without RSM’s involvement.
This was all included in a filing with the SEC, made by H&R Block, who is obviously the pimp in this whole love triangle.
Personally, M&P should probably consider going back to RSM’s sorry ass just to take advantage of the Natalie Gulbis exposure.
Judging by the firm’s response to our earlier mistake, they won’t be listening to us. Poor thing is caught in middle of this whole mess. Natalie, if you ever need to talk, don’t hesitate.
RSM McGladrey wants say in any reconciliation with McGladrey & Pullen [KCBJ]

UBS and IRS Probably Have a Deal, No Toblerones Involved

300px-Toblerone-1.jpgUBS is going to name names, albeit not all of them, bringing us to ever so close to the bitter end of the whole IRS/UBS standoff.
All the gory details are expected to be released on August 10th, when hopefully everyone will kiss and make up officially.
The focus of the settlement will be around 7,000 or so accounts that are associated with offshore companies and trusts that are possibly tied to some financial shenanigans. Under the potential settlement, UBS won’t turn over any names until after September 23rd, which is the last day for offshore account holders to confess their sinful ways.
Deal Reached in UBS Tax Battle [WSJ]

Trying to Care About the UBS and IRS Debacle is Getting Difficult

300px-Toblerone-1.jpgThe whole IRS/UBS tango has gotten to the point where we’ll take any kind of resolution.
Like if the IRS decided that it was too much trouble and said, “We don’t need no stinking names”, we’d be thrilled. Or if UBS decided to hand over a truckload of Toblerones in order to bury the hatchet we’d think, “that was our idea” .
But no, the standoff continues, as the parties confirmed Friday’s meeting today to discuss the progress they’ve made in reaching a settlement. Regardless if a settlement is announced on Friday or the stalemate continues and the case starts on Monday the sooner this thing is over, the better.
UBS, IRS to Meet on Friday [WSJ]

Yahoo and Microsoft Partnership Talk Continues to Annoy Us

yahoo.pngIn a follow-up to the most annoying potential corporate partnership in recent memory, Yahoo’s directors actually met with one another yesterday, after just yapping on the phone about it, to decide if they like Microsoft. Microsoft has been putting the moves on the search engine company for over a year now and some directors still aren’t sure they’re ready to put out.
Some directors are still grossed out and think that Microsoft will do naughty things like, “paying Yahoo for selling ads next to its search results”. GROSS. Other directors also don’t think that regulators would like the two companies getting together because it wouldn’t look very good.
No doubt we’ll be hearing more about these two flirting which will continue to make us nauseous.
Yahoo Board to Meet on Microsoft Search Deal [WSJ]

Going Concern is Not Immune to the Michael Jackson Circus

1.michael_jackson_71246050015.jpgWe’ve been able to avoid the whole Michael Jackson debacle up until now. We couldn’t, in good blogging conscience, avoid this particular story.
The estate of Michael Jackson is probably going to have to turn over at least $80 million to the IRS and they get to cut the line right to the front to collect.
“As in a bankruptcy case, Jackson’s creditors will jockey for first crack at his fortune. But the estate’s initial obligation will be to pay the late star’s taxes, said Beth Kaufman, a Washington-based attorney specializing in estate tax issues. ‘There is no question that the U.S. government has first priority,’ she said.
Oh, and the Service is not going to take the royalty rights to She Loves You or I am the Walrus either:

To settle his tax bill, the executors of his estate may have to sell or borrow against lucrative but hard-to-value assets or ask the IRS for a multi-year extension. That could allow the estate to pay the tab over time with earnings from Jackson’s share in rights to songs by the Beatles and his own music — prized properties whose value will likely make the estate’s tax bill only bigger. “The government is not going to take a Beatles record as payment. They want to be paid in cash,” said Roy Kozupsky, a veteran estate lawyer in New York who has worked on behalf of several wealthy clients.

Reportedly, Jackson still made $40 million a year from his ownership of the recordings. This will no doubt make the calculation of the tax bill more complicated and thus, we’ll continue to be saturated with all the excruciating details about this story that we just don’t want to hear.
Death and taxes: Big IRS bill looms for MJ estate [AP via TaxProf Blog]