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Posts Tagged ‘Ed Ketz’

Miscellany — interesting items that caught my eye during the week.


From Bloomberg Businessweek, “Top B-School Stories of 2011.”


Real Life Adventures, a nationally syndicated daily cartoon strip by Gary Wise and Lance Aldrich, perfectly catches the fundamental flaw of the audit model on December 8, 2011.


I like “The Promise and Perils of Academic Blogging,” a think-piece by W. Bradford Littlejohn at The Sword and the Ploughshare.


Ed Ketz and Tony Catanach share their “A Christmas List for Grumpy Old Accountants.”  I hope they get everything they ask for.


Tom Selling shares his dreams if he were the SEC’s Chief Accountant in “IFRS Convergence: Let’s Play ‘Chief Accountant for a Day’!


The Institute of Management Accountants, caretaker for the Certificate of Management Accounting, has its complaints aired about the AICPA’s plan for a competing credential in the AccountingWeb article “IMA Ready to Compete with AICPA/CIMA Management Accounting Designation.”


Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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Today is Accountant Day (aka Accounting Day).  In the hopes of coming up with something clever enough to get linked to from Going Concern and RTed on Twitter, I queried a few dozen accounting notables including professors, bloggers, journalists, regulators and Top 100 Most Influential People.

How do you intend to celebrate Accountant Day on November 10?

At least Paul Bahnson (professor at Boise State, Accounting Today columnist, and member of the 2011 Top 100 list) was honest, “I wasn’t even aware that there was any such thing as Accountant Day.”

Denny Beresford, former Chairman of the FASB, is going to work today.  Ugh.  “I’ll be attending the PCAOB Standing Advisory Group meeting in DC in the morning, flying and driving home to Athens, GA in the afternoon, and participating in a corporate board meeting in Seoul, South Korea by phone that evening.”  Denny is still working off the bills from his college toga parties.

Professors Bahnson and Ed Ketz (Penn State professor and Grumpy Old Accountants blogger), like most accountants, really know how to cut lose. Bahnson said, “I’m thinking I might put up an entry in class where the debits don’t equal the credits (on purpose!) just to celebrate.”  Ketz said, “I’m giving an exam on currency forwards, foreign translation, and options as fair value and cash flow hedges.  Should be fun.”

Ed Scribner (accounting department Head at New Mexico State University and  Funniest Accounting Professor in America), has a day long program planned:

  • Dr. John Loveland will be delivering his special address entitled, “Accountants – You Can’t Do Without Them, But I’d Certainly Like to Try.”
  • Dr. David Boje will be telling a story entitled, “Interesting Accountants I Have Known.”  (This session will be brief.)
  • Dr. Carl Enomoto will be explaining why accountants cannot have personality conflicts, by definition.
  • Dr. Janet Green will be presenting favorite bean recipes from the kitchens of HRTM.

Jim Peterson (blogger at re:Balance and audit theorist) will propose new wording for the auditor opinion:

“Having performed such calendar-reading tests as we deemed reasonable in the circumstances, it is our opinion that, in accordance with generally accepted calendar principles, Accountants’ Day is fairly likely to be observed on Thursday, October 10, 2011.

“Third parties are advised, however, that our opinion is intended for use only by those with whom we are in privity, and that they should perform such other or further due diligence as they may require or deem suitable.”

Hey Jim, very funny.

Sam Antar, the most creative accountant of his generation, (as well as convicted felon, former CFO at Crazy Eddie’s and now blogger at White Collar Fraud), says,

I will be giving thanks to Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and its auditors at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Their antics have provided me with fresh materialfor teaching how to find accounting irregularities in plain sight.

The most interesting party plans come from the regulators:  James Kroeker (SEC), Leslie Seidman (FASB), Hans Hoogervorst (IASB).  They chose not to respond to my invitation to comment, so I’m just going to make stuff up.

Hoogervorst suggests that on Accounting Day debits and credits should be optional and used only according to professional judgment.  Seidman exposed the idea of debits and credits switching sides.  Henceforth, credits are now to be located on the left side.  Kroeker is to issue a Convergence Roadmap to a party at his house.

How are you celebrating on this day?  Leave details in the comment section below.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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Last year, the Accounting Today published its list of the Top 100 Most Influential People in [American] Accounting on September 9, 2010.  I don’t know that it ever causes a stir, but we talked about it on AECM.  AECM is the e-mail listserv for accounting professors (with a membership of 750).  We wondered why no one from the academic side of accounting made the list (or ever makes the list, for that matter).  Upon closer examination, it turned out that Frank Ross (Howard U) made the list.  Bob Jensen contacted the editor and suggested the names of 20 academics for the 2011 list.

It’s an interesting question, I think, as to who should qualify to be on the list.  The accounting industry in the U.S. is so large, certainly over 1,000,000.  There are auditors, accountants, thought leaders, professors and students who are all directly part of it.  Then there are those who are indirectly related, such as companies/investors that benefit from using accounting information, businesses that serve the accounting industry, journalists, bloggers, government regulators and even tax collectors.  And what about those Europeans who have their IFRS, FRC and the EC?  And should the person’s contribution be for only the most recent 12 months, recent years, or a lifetime of activity?  And what about fraudsters who influence the accounting industry?

For that matter, what does it mean to be to have been influenced?  I look at the list and I wonder how the honorees influenced me?  I have heard of almost none of them.  Does being influential mean having had an impact?

I’m sure the editorial staff at Accounting Today has grappled with these questions over the years, time and time again.

A short while ago, I was asked who I would say are the most influential.  Here are the people in the accounting world who have influenced me the most in the past year.

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Lost sight of in the SEC push to adopt IFRS is the primary reason for adopting it.  In “IFRS Is for Criminals,” Ed Ketz and Anthony Catanach of Grumpy Old Accountants remind us.

In their essay, the grumpies let it all hang out:

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Over on the the AECM listserv, several of us are fans of Ed Ketz (Penn State prof) and his Accounting Cycle column at SmartPros.  For example, when Bob Jensen passes along the link to Ketz’s latest editorial, he always labels it “Ketz Me If You Can.”  Tom Selling (Accounting Onion), sometimes calls his editorials, “The Betz From Ketz.”  For my part, I occasionally feature Ketz on these pages, saying to myself, “Letz Getz Ketz on this.”

Today, Ed Ketz published an absolute must read editorial on his Accounting Cycle, “NY v. Ernst & Young: Who Cares Whether Lehman Brothers Followed GAAP?

Ketz starts off by saying that Ernst & Young intends to fight the civil lawsuit alleging fraud in the Lehman Brothers case.  I’ve noticed the same thing.  In anticipation of a trial, E&Y has petitioned to have the case heard in federal district court instead of a New York state court.  Based on pretrial statements, E&Y has repeatedly mentioned that Lehman Brothers was following GAAP, so technically no rules were broken.

Ketz notes that the current case is very similar to the 1960s Continental Vending case (US v Simon 425 F.2d 796).  In this case three auditors from Lybrand, Ross Brothers, and Montgomery were charged with criminal fraud.  Ketz writes:

While agreeing with the facts presented by the federal prosecutors, the defendants relied on a number of expert witnesses, all of whom stated that the deficiencies mentioned above were not part of generally accepted accounting principles.  The trial judge issued directions to the jury that negated this perspective by maintaining that “the ‘critical test’ was whether the financial statements as a whole ‘fairly presented the financial position of Continental as of September 30, 1962, and whether it accurately reported the operations for fiscal 1962.”  The jury found the defendants (auditors)  guilty.  The auditors appealed, but the circuit court affirmed the decision.  The auditors then appealed to the Supreme Court, but it denied certiorari. [emphasis mine]

I think Ed Ketz’s analysis is sound.  Although we can’t foresee the judge’s rulings in this case, E&Y is at risk here.   Based on what I have read in the the Valukas report and the NY court complaint, it is my opinion that Lehman Brothers adopted its accounting practices with the intention to deceive investors and regulators.  As such, their accounting shenanigans are absolutely repugnant to me.  What’s more, I believe that E&Y auditors were aware of this motive, and blessed the accounting anyway.  Technically correct or not, Lehman Brothers intended for its financial statements to not fairly present the results of operations.  And E&Y opined that they did fairly present.

Will the jury be allowed to base its decision on the fairly presented issue?  Tune in later.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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AECM (Accounting Education Using Computers and Multimedia) is the listserv for accounting professors.  Membership fluctuates between 600-1,000.

Over the years, the e-mail discussions have been carried out between Bob Jensen, David Fordham, Paul Williams, Jagdish Gangolly, Amy Dunbar, Ed Scribner, Richard Campbell, myself and several others (my apologies for not mentioning any that want to be recognized).

How do these discussions get started?  It’s just like in any group.  Usually there’s a leader, who in this case is Bob Jensen (emeritus professor from Trinity University).  He’s always finding interesting articles out on the web (he’s a prolific surfer).  He’ll bring them to our attention, sometimes with his own comment.  Then, if the article strikes someone’s fancy, they’ll respond and pretty soon there’s a pretty good exchange going.  Discussions can get started in other ways, but not usually.

In recent years, Bob has been picking up on the commentary provided by bloggers.  Bob has passed along links to many posts written by some of the AECM members.

Bill McCarthy (Michigan State AIS guru) got the idea that a blogger panel discussion at the American Accounting Association annual meeting would be a good idea.  Five of us–Tom Selling, Ed Ketz, Francine McKenna, Joe Hoyle and myself–quickly jumped on board.  At the last minute, I’ve had to drop off due to a scheduling conflict.  It has been eating at me for weeks that I won’t be there on Wednesday, August 4, 2010 in San Francisco.

Here’s a preview of these bloggers and what they mean to AECM.

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On February 25, 2010, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released a formal Commission Statement in Support of Convergence and Global Accounting Standards.

I never got around to reacting.  Today (March 29, 2010), Ed Ketz publishes his reaction, “The Iffiness of IFRS” at SmartPros.   It’s better than anything I can write (anything Ed writes is always going to be better than anything I can ever write, just take it for truth).  For those of you new to The Summa, Professor Ketz is a charter member of the group of IFRS critics.

For years, Ketz has railed (Merriam-Webster: to revile or scold in harsh, insolent, or abusive language) at the corporate practice of financial reporting.  He has repeatedly said that the number one problem is that corporations simply don’t follow the rules.  If ever they were all to be in a general state of compliance, then we could talk about about the structure of accounting standards.  But first, we need compliance.  Generally speaking, he favors specific accounting rules that permit no wiggle room.  Such rules make it easier to crack down on wrong-doers.

Professor Ketz’s latest editorial is “The Iffiness of IFRS.”  He responds to the SEC and suggests several issues that still need to be worked out before IFRS adoption.  Although the context for his remarks is opposing IFRS adoption, he believes the biggest problem with the proposed transition is:

… whether IFRS statements can be audited and what will happen in the courtroom after a firm experiences severe declines in its stock price.

Ketz concludes with:

… I again marvel at the rush to IFRS. The benefits do not appear to match or exceed the costs of the adoption.

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