May 28, 2009

Have the accountants sold out?

Gunnar points to an interview that echos my "Audit" series (1, 2, 3). This time from Charlie Munger:

Grundfest: As we look at the current situation, how much of the responsibility would you lay at the feet of the accounting profession?

Munger: I would argue that a majority of the horrors we face would not have happened if the accounting profession developed and enforced better accounting. They are way too liberal in providing the kind of accounting the financial promoters want. They’ve sold out, and they do not even realize that they’ve sold out.

Grundfest: Would you give an example of a particular accounting practice you Find problematic?

Munger: Take derivative trading with mark-to-market accounting, which degenerates into mark-to-model. Two firms make a big derivative trade and the accountants on both sides show a large profit from the same trade.

Grundfest: And they can’t both be right. But both of them are following the rules.

Munger: Yes, and nobody is even bothered by the folly. It violates the most elemental principles of common sense. And the reasons they do it are: (1) there’s a demand for it from the financial promoters, (2) fixing the system is hard work, and (3) they are afraid that a sensible fix might create new responsibilities that cause new litigation risks for accountants.

Yeah, I just copied Gunnar's post (including the crazy "Fi" HTML artifact!). Except this bit:

This situation is very comparable to what happens in when auditors interview infosec. Auditor asks -do you have a firewall? Infosec says yes. Check.

Its too bad but assumptions of yesteryear lead to building things on shaky foundations.

The full interview is worth reading!

Posted by iang at May 28, 2009 08:07 AM | TrackBack

Two problems to report under Eudora 7 (the apparently, last version) and Win2000 which admittedly is gradually crumbling udner the assault of newer binaries from all directions...
1) the F and other characters in your character set don't display (see printscreen) and
2) Firefox 3.0.8 can't open the web page securely

Posted by: TOdd at May 28, 2009 02:10 PM

> > Munger: I would argue that a majority of the horrors we face would
> > not have happened if the accounting profession developed and enforced
> > better accounting. They are way too liberal

Scapegoat anyone?

Posted by: Gordon at May 29, 2009 07:42 AM

The identity crisis has hit full tilt, the accountants are forced to applied specialized practices for various type of accounting regimes specific to particular businesses. It would be insane to un-snake the various rules that are used that allow ill-conceited representations of the true nature of financial well being. The whole thing rests on a small approach, contract accounting rather than omnibus approaches to entities, which are used to bifurcate the entities arbitrarily or assume an overview whichever suits the clients need. So if you want a blue suit turn on the blue light is the answer which happens to be the same approach adopted by US Attorneys. This picking and choosing has no sound basis anymore and as such creates an un-controllable situation.

A contract based accounting system as represented in the Ricardian Regime proposed by the owner of this blog and more discretely represented by Todd Boyle. In essence the client relationship systems that run the banking sector and insurance sector have promulgated the rational that allows the picking and choosing of accounting treatments to large complex entities but with the added feature of heavily lobbied accounting treatments that has driven us into an early warning blind spot.

The granular approach to the accounting via the contract is the most effective manner to treat this body of ill-conceived accounting now practiced on a global basis; and who's laws have been contorted to represent this debacle? A contract be it a purchase or sale or allocation of capital is finite and able to be reconciled independent of the entity issuing it or receiving it.

The matching of Credit Default Swaps against unpublished contracts does not approach the rigor required. In essence the CDS only allowed a greater latitude for the hidden risk to cascade. The entire effort to rebuild the credit markets and corporate accounting is heavily ladened with Munger types who have determined long ago that a board of directors without any knowledge of the actual business are capable of determining the proper treatment of the accounting, and as time and time again they fail adding layer and layer of insulation via legal caveats their position and power become more ineffective.

Posted by: Jimbo at May 30, 2009 08:58 AM


the Fi characters were a HTML artifact, I have no idea how they got in there. I cleaned them out.

The certificate is from CAcert, and that while being a reasonable CA to issue certs from, CAcert is not recognised by Mozilla. Long story, you will recognise the same patterns from your finance experience, no joy for end-users there. What you can do is add an exception, or download the root for CAcert.

Posted by: Iang at June 21, 2009 09:01 AM

"What you can do is add an exception, or download the root for CAcert."
Download's certificate, print out the dialog box that shows up when you view all the details ... oh, yeah, you can't print that out ... and hold it up to the screen to compare next time you visit That's all I really care about this site: that it's the same one I left comments on last week.

Posted by: Anonymous at August 8, 2009 05:45 PM
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