Accountancy Theory
Bob Jensen
at Trinity University 

My Accounting Theory Document Was Split into Two Files on December 15, 2010

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"Advice on Life and Creative Integrity from Calvin and Hobbes Creator Bill Watterson," by Maria Popova, Brain Pickings, May 20, 2013
http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/05/20/bill-watterson-1990-kenyon-speech/

U.S. GAAP Financial Reporting Taxonomy Now Available (2014)---
http://www.fasb.org/jsp/FASB/Page/SectionPage&cid=1176163688345

Get Your Sign Values Correct in XBRL Files ---
http://www.aicpa.org/InterestAreas/FRC/AccountingFinancialReporting/XBRL/DownloadableDocuments/XBRL Update 2013 Final.pdf

 

Part 1 of Accounting Theory Document

“Accounting for Business Firms versus Accounting for Vegetables” ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#BadNews 

Take the Enron Quiz ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnronQuiz.htm

Where I Made My Consulting Money and How

Purpose of Theory:  Prediction Versus Explanation

Limits of Big Data 

Financial Statements Loss of Quality and Predictive Power

Accounting History in a Nutshell

History of Women in Accounting and Other Women of the World

Fall of Managerial Accounting From Grace

Re-branding the CPA Profession

History of Accountics

Accounting Theory Courses

Thoughts on Bill Paton and Some Other Historical Writers in Accountancy

Abe Briloff: Accounting Hall of Fame or Infame?

"Why Accounting Matters," by Edith Orenstein

Accounting for Derivative Financial Instruments and Hedging Activities
FAS 133, IAS 39, and IFRS 9

Accounting for the Shadow Economy

Accounting Theory as Rhetoric and Hermeneutics

Behavioral and Cultural Economics and Finance

Media Reporting Controversies

Efficient Markets (EMH) versus Inefficient Markets
(including Black Swans and Fat Tails)

Islamic and Social Responsibility Accounting

XBRL:  The Next Big Thing

The Controversy Over Revenue Reporting and HFV 
--- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/eitf01.htm

The Controversy Over Employee Stock Options as Compenation ---
http:/www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory/sfas123/jensen01.htm

Key Differences Between International (IFRS) and U.S. GAAP (SFAS)

Accounting Research Versus the Accountancy Profession
Some ideas for applied research

Learning at Research Schools Versus "Teaching Schools" Versus "Happiness"
With a Side Track into Substance Abuse

Why must all accounting doctoral programs be social
science (particularly econometrics) "accountics" doctoral programs?

Why accountancy doctoral programs are drying up and
why accountancy is no longer required for admission or
graduation in an accountancy doctoral program
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#DoctoralPrograms
 

Essays on the State of Accounting Scholarship
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/AccounticsDamn.htm#Essays

 

How Accountics Scientists Should Change: 
"Frankly, Scarlett, after I get a hit for my resume in The Accounting Review I just don't give a damn"
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/AccounticsDamn.htm
One more mission in what's left of my life will be to try to change this
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/AccounticsDamn.htm
 

Real Science versus Pseudo Science ---
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/AccounticsDamn.htm#Pseudo-Science

The Cult of Statistical Significance: How Standard Error Costs Us Jobs, Justice, and Lives ---
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/DeirdreMcCloskey/StatisticalSignificance01.htm

I think leading academic researchers avoid applied research for the profession because making seminal and creative discoveries that practitioners have not already discovered is enormously difficult. Accounting academe is threatened by the twin dangers of fossilization and scholasticism (of three types: tedium, high tech, and radical chic)
From http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/395wpTAR/Web/TAR395wp.htm
 

“Knowledge and competence increasingly developed out of the internal dynamics of esoteric disciplines rather than within the context of shared perceptions of public needs,” writes Bender. “This is not to say that professionalized disciplines or the modern service professions that imitated them became socially irresponsible. But their contributions to society began to flow from their own self-definitions rather than from a reciprocal engagement with general public discourse.”

 

Now, there is a definite note of sadness in Bender’s narrative – as there always tends to be in accounts of the shift from Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft. Yet it is also clear that the transformation from civic to disciplinary professionalism was necessary.

 

“The new disciplines offered relatively precise subject matter and procedures,” Bender concedes, “at a time when both were greatly confused. The new professionalism also promised guarantees of competence — certification — in an era when criteria of intellectual authority were vague and professional performance was unreliable.”

But in the epilogue to Intellect and Public Life, Bender suggests that the process eventually went too far. “The risk now is precisely the opposite,” he writes. “Academe is threatened by the twin dangers of fossilization and scholasticism (of three types: tedium, high tech, and radical chic). The agenda for the next decade, at least as I see it, ought to be the opening up of the disciplines, the ventilating of professional communities that have come to share too much and that have become too self-referential.”

Accountics is the mathematical science of values.
Charles Sprague [1887] as quoted by McMillan [1998, p. 1]
[NH1]

What went wrong in accounting/accountics research? 
How did academic accounting research become a pseudo science?
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#WhatWentWrong

GMAT: Paying for Points

Accounting Journal Lack of Interest in Publishing Replications

Rankings of Academic Accounting Research Journals and Schools

Role of Accounting Standards in Efficient Equity Markets

Controversies in Setting Accounting Standards

Radical Changes in Financial Reporting (No Bottom Line)

Testing for Regulation Compliance and the Value of Stratified Sampling

Popular IFRS, IAS, and Other IASB Learning Resources:

Bright Lines Versus Principles-Based Rules

Comparisons of IFRS with Domestic Standards of Many Nations
http://www.iasplus.com/country/compare.htm

Should "principles-based" standards replace more detailed requirements for complex
financial contracts such as structured financing contracts and financial instruments derivatives contracts?

Why Let the I.R.S. See What the S.E.C. Doesn't?

Cookie Jar Accounting

Synthetic Assets and Liabilities Accounting

Time versus Money

Intangibles and Contingencies:   Theory Disputes Focus Mainly on the Tip of the Iceberg

Intangibles:  An Accounting Paradox
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#Paradox

Intangibles:  Selected References On Accounting for Intangibles
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#References

Radical Changes in Financial Reporting

The Controversy Between OCI versus Current Earnings

Accrual Accounting and Estimation

Bob Jensen's threads on corporate governance are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud001.htm#Governance 

 

 

Part 2 of Accounting Theory Document
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm

 


Controversy Over  the SEC's Rule 144a
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#144a
 


Why do sales discounts have such high annual percentage rates?
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#SalesDiscounts


FIN 48 Liability if Transaction Is Later Disallowed by the IRS
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#FIN48


Controversy Over FAS 2 versus IAS 38 on Research and Development (R&D)
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#FAS02


Management ((Managerial) and Cost Accounting
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#ManagementAccounting


Creative Earnings Management, Agency Theory, and Accounting Manipulations to Cook the Books 
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#Manipulation


Goodwill Impairment Issues 
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#Impairment


Purchase Versus Pooling: The Never Ending Debate
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#Pooling


Minority Interests:  Lambs being led to slaughter?
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#MinorityInterests


Off-Balance Sheet Financing (OBSF)
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#OBSF2


Insurance:  A Scheme for Hiding Debt That Won't Go Away
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#Insurance


How do we account for lifetime warranties?
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#LifetimeWarranties


Disclosure provisions aimed at financing receivables
and Other Dislcosure Issues

Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#CreditDisclosures


CDOs: A Securitization Scheme for Hiding Debt That Won't Go Away
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#CDO


Pensions and Post-retirement benefits:  Schemes for Hiding Debt
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#Pensions  


Leases:  A  Scheme for Hiding Debt That Won't Go Away
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#Leases  

Accounting for Executory Contracts Such as
Purchase/Sale Commitments and Loan Commitments

Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TheoryOnFirmCommitments.htm


Debt Versus Equity (including shareholder earn-out contracts)
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#FAS150


Intangibles:  An Accounting Paradox
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#Paradox


Intangibles:  Selected References On Accounting for Intangibles
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#References


EBR:  Enhanced Business Reporting (including non-financial information)
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#EBR

The Controversy Over Revenue Reporting and HFV 
--- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/eitf01.htm

The Controversy Over Employee Stock Options as Compenation ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htmhttp:/www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory/sfas123/jensen01.htm  


Accounting for Options to Buy Real Estate
Go go http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#RealEstateOptions


The Controversy over Accounting for Securitizations and Loan Guarantees  
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#Securitizations


The Controversy Over Pro Forma Reporting
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#ProForma

 
Triple-Bottom (Social, Environmental) Reporting  
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#TripleBottom


The Sad State of Government (Governmental) Accounting and Accountability
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#GovernmentalAccounting


The Cost Conundrum:  What a Texas town can teach us about health care
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#CostConundrum 


Which is More Value-Relevant: Earnings or Cash Flows?
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#CashVsAccrualAcctg


LIFO Sucks Teaching Case on LIFO Layers in Years of Rising Prices
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#LIFO


The Controversy Over Fair Value (Mark-to-Market) Financial Reporting
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#FairValue


Underlying Bases of Balance Sheet Valuation
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#BasesAccounting

Online Resources for Business Valuations
See http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/roi.htm


Fade, Gain, and Cost Shifting Analysis  in gross profit analysis in construction accounting
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#FadeAnalysis


Critical Thinking:  Why's It So Hard to Teach
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#CriticalThinking


Understanding the Issues 
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#UnderstandingIssues

Issues of Auditor Professionalism and Independence 
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/fraud001.htm#Professionalism
 


Quality of Earnings, Restatements, and Core Earnings
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#CoreEarnings

Sale-Leaseback Accounting Controversies
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/eitf01.htm#SaleLeasback


Economic Theory of Accounting (including Game Theory)
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#EconomicTheory


Socionomics Theory of Finance and Fraud
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#Sociometrics 


Facts Based on Assumptions:  The Power of Postpositive Thinking
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#PostPositiveThinking

Bob Jensen's threads and other teaching cases on dividends, payout ratios, and dividends yield ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/roi.htm#Dividends

Bob Jensen's threads on return on investment, other ratios, and financial statement analysis ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/roi.htm

 

What's Right and What's Wrong With SPEs, SPVs, and VIEs --- 
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/speOverview.htm

Peter, Paul, and Barney: An Essay on 2008 U.S. Government Bailouts of Private Companies ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on GAAP comparisons (with particular stress upon derivative financial
instruments accounting rules) are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/caseans/canada.htm
The above site also links to more general GAAP comparison guides between nations.

Implications of Bad Auditing on Capital Markets
and Client's Cost of Captial
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#IncompetentAudits

Bob Jensen's threads on corporate governance are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/fraud.htm#Governance

Critical Postmodern Theory ---
http://www.uta.edu/huma/illuminations/


Mike Kearl's great social theory site
Go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#Kearl

An Introduction to Great Economists — Adam Smith, the Physiocrats & More — Presented in New MOOC --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2013/05/an_introduction_to_great_economists_--_adam_smith_the_physiocrats_more_--_presented_in_new_mooc.html

Inside the Psychologist's Studio Videos (interviews with prominent psychologists) ---
http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/members/itps-videos

Great Minds in Management:  The Process of Theory Development ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/GreatMinds.htm

 

Acceptance Speech for the August 15, 2002 American Accounting Association's Outstanding Educator Award --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/AAAaward_files/AAAaward02.htm

How Accountics Scientists Should Change: 
"Frankly, Scarlett, after I get a hit for my resume in The Accounting Review I just don't give a damn"
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/AccounticsDamn.htm
One more mission in what's left of my life will be to try to change this
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/AccounticsDamn.htm 

Essays on the State of Accounting Scholarship ---
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/AccounticsDamn.htm#Essays

The Sad State of Economic Theory and Research ---
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/AccounticsDamn.htm#EconomicResearch 

An Introduction to Great Economists — Adam Smith, the Physiocrats & More — Presented in New MOOC --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2013/05/an_introduction_to_great_economists_--_adam_smith_the_physiocrats_more_--_presented_in_new_mooc.html

The Cult of Statistical Significance:  How Standard Error Costs Us Jobs, Justice, and Lives, by Stephen T. Ziliak and Deirdre N. McCloskey (Ann Arbor:  University of Michigan Press, ISBN-13: 978-472-05007-9, 2007)
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/DeirdreMcCloskey/StatisticalSignificance01.htm

Page 206
Like scientists today in medical and economic and other sizeless sciences, Pearson mistook a large sample size for the definite, substantive significance---evidence s Hayek put it, of "wholes." But it was as Hayek said "just an illusion." Pearson's columns of sparkling asterisks, though quantitative in appearance and as appealing a is the simple truth of the sky, signified nothing.

In Accountics Science R2 = 0.0004 = (-.02)(-.02) Can Be Deemed a Statistically Significant Linear Relationship ---
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/DeirdreMcCloskey/StatisticalSignificance01.htm

 

"So you want to get a Ph.D.?" by David Wood, BYU ---
http://www.byuaccounting.net/mediawiki/index.php?title=So_you_want_to_get_a_Ph.D.%3F

Do You Want to Teach? ---
http://financialexecutives.blogspot.com/2009/05/do-you-want-to-teach.html

Jensen Comment
Here are some added positives and negatives to consider, especially if you are currently a practicing accountant considering becoming a professor.

Accountancy Doctoral Program Information from Jim Hasselback ---
http://www.jrhasselback.com/AtgDoctInfo.html 

Why must all accounting doctoral programs be social science (particularly econometrics) "accountics" doctoral programs?
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#DoctoralPrograms

What went wrong in accounting/accountics research?
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#WhatWentWrong

Bob Jensen's Codec Saga: How I Lost a Big Part of My Life's Work
Until My Friend Rick Lillie Solved My Problem
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/video/VideoCodecProblems.htm

One of the most popular Excel spreadsheets that Bob Jensen ever provided to his students ---
www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/Excel/wtdcase2a.xls

An Introduction to Great Economists — Adam Smith, the Physiocrats & More — Presented in New MOOC --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2013/05/an_introduction_to_great_economists_--_adam_smith_the_physiocrats_more_--_presented_in_new_mooc.html

 

 

FASB Accounting Standards Updates ---
http://www.fasb.org/cs/ContentServer?site=FASB&c=Page&pagename=FASB/Page/SectionPage&cid=11761563164

CNBC Explains Accounting --- http://www.cnbc.com/id/100000341

Bob Jensen's threads on accounting theory


Hi Steve,

As usual, these AECM threads between you, me, and Paul Williams resolve nothing to date. TAR still has zero articles without equations unless such articles are forced upon editors like the Kaplan article was forced upon you as Senior Editor. TAR still has no commentaries about the papers it publishes and the authors make no attempt to communicate and have dialog about their research on the AECM or the AAA Commons.

I do hope that our AECM threads will continue and lead one day to when the top academic research journals do more to both encourage (1) validation (usually by speedy replication), (2) alternate methodologies, (3) more innovative research, and (4) more interactive commentaries.

I remind you that Professor Basu's essay is only one of four essays bundled together in Accounting Horizons on the topic of how to make accounting research, especially the so-called Accounting Sciience or Accountics Science or Cargo Cult science, more innovative.

The four essays in this bundle are summarized and extensively quoted at http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/AccounticsDamn.htm#Essays 

I will try to keep drawing attention to these important essays and spend the rest of my professional life trying to bring accounting research closer to the accounting profession.

I also want to dispel the myth that accountics research is harder than making research discoveries without equations. The hardest research I can imagine (and where I failed) is to make a discovery that has a noteworthy impact on the accounting profession. I always look but never find such discoveries reported in TAR.

The easiest research is to purchase a database and beat it with an econometric stick until something falls out of the clouds. I've searched for years and find very little that has a noteworthy impact on the accounting profession. Quite often there is a noteworthy impact on other members of the Cargo Cult and doctoral students seeking to beat the same data with their sticks. But try to find a practitioner with an interest in these academic accounting discoveries?

Our latest thread leads me to such questions as:

  1. Is accounting research of inferior quality relative to other disciplines like engineering and finance?

     
  2. Are there serious innovation gaps in academic accounting research?

     
  3. Is accounting research stagnant?

     
  4. How can accounting researchers be more innovative?

     
  5. Is there an "absence of dissent" in academic accounting research?

     
  6. Is there an absence of diversity in our top academic accounting research journals and doctoral programs?

     
  7. Is there a serious disinterest (except among the Cargo Cult) and lack of validation in findings reported in our academic accounting research journals, especially TAR?

     
  8. Is there a huge communications gap between academic accounting researchers and those who toil teaching accounting and practicing accounting?

     
  9. Why do our accountics scientists virtually ignore the AECM and the AAA Commons and the Pathways Commission Report?
    http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/AccounticsDamn.htm

One fall out of this thread is that I've been privately asked to write a paper about such matters. I hope that others will compete with me in thinking and writing about these serious challenges to academic accounting research that never seem to get resolved.

Thank you Steve for sometimes responding in my threads on such issues in the AECM.

Respectfully,
Bob Jensen

 

 


Capsule Commentary Book Review, The Accounting Review, January 2012, pp. 356-357 ---
http://aaajournals.org/doi/full/10.2308/accr-10189

CAPSULE COMMENTARY

Stephen A. Zeff, Editor

HARRY I. WOLK (editor), Accounting Theory (London, U.K.: Sage Publications Ltd., 2009, ISBN 978-1-84787-609-6, pp. xlv, 1,518 in four volumes).

Harry I. Wolk, the compiler of this collection of 74 previously published articles and other essays, died in October 2009 at age 79. In 1984, he was assisted by two colleagues in writing a thoughtful, wide-ranging textbook on accounting theory, which is now in its seventh edition. He has, thus, been a close student of the accounting theory literature for many years.

Wolk's valedictory contribution is this anthology, which is divided into ten sections: philosophical background, accounting concepts, conceptual frameworks, accounting for changing prices, standard setting, applications of accounting theory to five measurement areas, agency theory, principles versus rules, international accounting standards, and accounting issues in East and Southeast Asia. Because he provides only a two-and-a-half-page general introduction, we cannot know the criteria he used to make these selections. The earliest of the articles dates from 1958, and one infers that this collection represents the body of work that, over his long career, mostly at Drake University, he found to be influential writings.

Among the major contributors to the theory literature represented in the collection are Devine, Mattessich, Davidson, Solomons, Sterling, Thomas, Bell, Shillinglaw, Bedford, Ijiri, and Stamp. Conspicuous omissions are Chambers, Baxter, Staubus, Moonitz, Sorter, and Vatter. Although many of the earlier pieces have stood the test of time, a number of the more recent selections would, inevitably, be open to second-guessing. To be sure, most of these articles can be accessed electronically, yet it is instructive to know the works that Harry Wolk believed were worth remembering, and it is handy to have them all in one collection.

The price tag of £600/$1,050 for the four-volume set will, unfortunately, deter all but the most enthusiastic purchasers.

Jensen Comment
And to think my constantly-updated accounting theory book (in two volumes) has a price tag of $0 (Sigh!)---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm

But I do thank Harry for providing me with an accounting illustration that I turned into the most popular Excel illustration that I ever authored (i.e., popular in the eyes of my students over the years) ---
www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/Excel/wtdcase2a.xls

 


574 Shields Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TheoryTAR.htm

Steven J. Kachelmeier's July 2011 Editorial as Departing Senior Editor of The Accounting Review (TAR)

"Introduction to a Forum on Internal Control Reporting and Corporate Debt," by Steven J. Kachelmeier, The Accounting Review, Vol. 86, No. 4, July 2011 pp. 1129–113 (not free online) ---
http://aaapubs.aip.org/getpdf/servlet/GetPDFServlet?filetype=pdf&id=ACRVAS000086000004001129000001&idtype=cvips&prog=normal

One of the more surprising things I have learned from my experience as Senior Editor of The Accounting Review is just how often a ‘‘hot topic’’ generates multiple submissions that pursue similar research objectives. Though one might view such situations as enhancing the credibility of research findings through the independent efforts of multiple research teams, they often result in unfavorable reactions from reviewers who question the incremental contribution of a subsequent study that does not materially advance the findings already documented in a previous study, even if the two (or more) efforts were initiated independently and pursued more or less concurrently. I understand the reason for a high incremental contribution standard in a top-tier journal that faces capacity constraints and deals with about 500 new submissions per year. Nevertheless, I must admit that I sometimes feel bad writing a rejection letter on a good study, just because some other research team beat the authors to press with similar conclusions documented a few months earlier. Research, it seems, operates in a highly competitive arena.

Fortunately, from time to time, we receive related but still distinct submissions that, in combination, capture synergies (and reviewer support) by viewing a broad research question from different perspectives. The two articles comprising this issue’s forum are a classic case in point. Though both studies reach the same basic conclusion that material weaknesses in internal controls over financial reporting result in negative repercussions for the cost of debt financing, Dhaliwal et al. (2011) do so by examining the public market for corporate debt instruments, whereas Kim et al. (2011) examine private debt contracting with financial institutions. These different perspectives enable the two research teams to pursue different secondary analyses, such as Dhaliwal et al.’s examination of the sensitivity of the reported findings to bank monitoring and Kim et al.’s examination of debt covenants.

Both studies also overlap with yet a third recent effort in this arena, recently published in the Journal of Accounting Research by Costello and Wittenberg-Moerman (2011). Although the overall ‘‘punch line’’ is similar in all three studies (material internal control weaknesses result in a higher cost of debt), I am intrigued by a ‘‘mini-debate’’ of sorts on the different conclusions reache  by Costello and Wittenberg-Moerman (2011) and by Kim et al. (2011) for the effect of material weaknesses on debt covenants. Specifically, Costello and Wittenberg-Moerman (2011, 116) find that ‘‘serious, fraud-related weaknesses result in a significant decrease in financial covenants,’’ presumably because banks substitute more direct protections in such instances, whereas Kim et al. Published Online: July 2011 (2011) assert from their cross-sectional design that company-level material weaknesses are associated with more financial covenants in debt contracting.

In reconciling these conflicting findings, Costello and Wittenberg-Moerman (2011, 116) attribute the Kim et al. (2011) result to underlying ‘‘differences in more fundamental firm characteristics, such as riskiness and information opacity,’’ given that, cross-sectionally, material weakness firms have a greater number of financial covenants than do non-material weakness firms even before the disclosure of the material weakness in internal controls. Kim et al. (2011) counter that they control for risk and opacity characteristics, and that advance leakage of internal control problems could still result in a debt covenant effect due to internal controls rather than underlying firm characteristics. Kim et al. (2011) also report from a supplemental change analysis that, comparing the pre- and post-SOX 404 periods, the number of debt covenants falls for companies both with and without material weaknesses in internal controls, raising the question of whether the

Costello and Wittenberg-Moerman (2011) finding reflects a reaction to the disclosures or simply a more general trend of a declining number of debt covenants affecting all firms around that time period. I urge readers to take a look at both articles, along with Dhaliwal et al. (2011), and draw their own conclusions. Indeed, I believe that these sorts . . .

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Without admitting to it, I think Steve has been embarrassed, along with many other accountics researchers, about the virtual absence of validation and replication of accounting science (accountics) research studies over the past five decades. For the most part, accountics articles are either ignored or accepted as truth without validation. Behavioral and capital markets empirical studies are rarely (ever?) replicated. Analytical studies make tremendous leaps of faith in terms of underlying assumptions that are rarely challenged (such as the assumption of equations depicting utility functions of corporations).

Accounting science thereby has become a pseudo science where highly paid accountics professor referees are protecting each others' butts ---
"574 Shields Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave" --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TheoryTAR.htm
The above link contains Steve's rejoinders on the replication debate.

In the above editorial he's telling us that there is a middle ground for validation of accountics studies. When researchers independently come to similar conclusions using different data sets and different quantitative analyses they are in a sense validating each others' work without truly replicating each others' work.

I agree with Steve on this, but I would also argue that these types of "validation" is too little to late relative to genuine science where replication and true validation are essential to the very definition of science. The types independent but related research that Steve is discussing above is too infrequent and haphazard to fall into the realm of validation and replication.

When's the last time you witnesses a TAR author criticizing the research of another TAR author (TAR does not publish critical commentaries)?
Are TAR articles really all that above criticism?
Even though I admire Steve's scholarship, dedication, and sacrifice, I hope future TAR editors will work harder at turning accountics research into real science!

What Went Wrong With Accountics Research? --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#WhatWentWrong

"574 Shields Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave" --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TheoryTAR.htm

Jean-Paul Sartre Breaks Down the Bad Faith of Intellectuals --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2011/12/jean-paul_sartre_on_the_bad_faith_of_modern_intellectuals.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

"Noam Chomsky on Where Artificial Intelligence Went Wrong," The Atlantic, November 1, 2012 ---
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/11/noam-chomsky-on-where-artificial-intelligence-went-wrong/261637/?single_page=true

. . .

People tend to study what you know how to study, I mean that makes sense. You have certain experimental techniques, you have certain level of understanding, you try to push the envelope -- which is okay, I mean, it's not a criticism, but people do what you can do. On the other hand, it's worth thinking whether you're aiming in the right direction. And it could be that if you take roughly the Marr-Gallistel point of view, which personally I'm sympathetic to, you would work differently, look for different kind of experiments.

Continued in article


"Is Modern Portfolio Theory Dead? Come On," by Paul Pfleiderer, TechCrunch, August 11, 2012 ---
http://techcrunch.com/2012/08/11/is-modern-portfolio-theory-dead-come-on/

A few weeks ago, TechCrunch published a piece arguing software is better at investing than 99% of human investment advisors. That post, titled Thankfully, Software Is Eating The Personal Investing World, pointed out the advantages of engineering-driven software solutions versus emotionally driven human judgment. Perhaps not surprisingly, some commenters (including some financial advisors) seized the moment to call into question one of the foundations of software-based investing, Modern Portfolio Theory.

Given the doubts raised by a small but vocal chorus, it’s worth spending some time to ask if we need a new investing paradigm and if so, what it should be. Answering that question helps show why MPT still is the best investment methodology out there; it enables the automated, low-cost investment management offered by a new wave of Internet startups including Wealthfront (which I advise), Personal Capital, Future Advisor and SigFig.

The basic questions being raised about MPT run something like this:

Let’s begin by briefly laying out the key insights of MPT.

MPT is based in part on the assumption that most investors don’t like risk and need to be compensated for bearing it. That compensation comes in the form of higher average returns. Historical data strongly supports this assumption. For example, from 1926 to 2011 the average (geometric) return on U.S. Treasury Bills was 3.6%. Over the same period the average return on large company stocks was 9.8%; that on small company stocks was 11.2% ( See 2012 Ibbotson Stocks, Bonds, Bills and Inflation (SBBI) Valuation Yearbook, Morningstar, Inc., page 23. ).  Stocks, of course, are much riskier than Treasuries, so we expect them to have higher average returns — and they do.

One of MPT’s key insights is that while investors need to be compensated to bear risk, not all risks are rewarded. The market does not reward risks that can be “diversified away” by holding a bundle of investments, instead of a single investment. By recognizing that not all risks are rewarded, MPT helped establish the idea that a diversified portfolio can help investors earn a higher return for the same amount of risk.

To understand which risks can be diversified away, and why, consider Zynga. Zynga hit $14.69 in March and has since dropped to less than $2 per share. Based on what’s happened over the past few months, the major risks associated with Zynga’s stock are things such as delays in new game development, the fickle taste of consumers and changes on Facebook that affect users’ engagement with Zynga’s games.

For company insiders, who have much of their wealth tied up in the company, Zynga is clearly a risky investment. Although those insiders are exposed to huge risks, they aren’t the investors who determine the “risk premium” for Zynga. (A stock’s risk premium is the extra return the stock is expected to earn that compensates for the stock’s risk.)

Rather, institutional funds and other large investors establish the risk premium by deciding what price they’re willing to pay to hold Zynga in their diversified portfolios. If a Zynga game is delayed, and Zynga’s stock price drops, that decline has a miniscule effect on a diversified shareholder’s portfolio returns. Because of this, the market does not price in that particular risk. Even the overall turbulence in many Internet stocks won’t be problematic for investors who are well diversified in their portfolios.

Modern Portfolio Theory focuses on constructing portfolios that avoid exposing the investor to those kinds of unrewarded risks. The main lesson is that investors should choose portfolios that lie on the Efficient Frontier, the mathematically defined curve that describes the relationship between risk and reward. To be on the frontier, a portfolio must provide the highest expected return (largest reward) among all portfolios having the same level of risk. The Internet startups construct well-diversified portfolios designed to be efficient with the right combination of risk and return for their clients.

Now let’s ask if anything in the past five years casts doubt on these basic tenets of Modern Portfolio Theory. The answer is clearly, “No.” First and foremost, nothing has changed the fact that there are many unrewarded risks, and that investors should avoid these risks. The major risks of Zynga stock remain diversifiable risks, and unless you’re willing to trade illegally on inside information about, say, upcoming changes to Facebook’s gaming policies, you should avoid holding a concentrated position in Zynga.

The efficient frontier is still the desirable place to be, and it makes no sense to follow a policy that puts you in a position well below that frontier.

Most of the people who say that “diversification failed” in the financial crisis have in mind not the diversification gains associated with avoiding concentrated investments in companies like Zynga, but the diversification gains that come from investing across many different asset classes, such as domestic stocks, foreign stocks, real estate and bonds. Those critics aren’t challenging the idea of diversification in general – probably because such an effort would be nonsensical.

True, diversification across asset classes didn’t shelter investors from 2008’s turmoil. In that year, the S&P 500 index fell 37%, the MSCI EAFE index (the index of developed markets outside North America) fell by 43%, the MSCI Emerging Market index fell by 53%, the Dow Jones Commodities Index fell by 35%, and the Lehman High Yield Bond Index fell by 26%. The historical record shows that in times of economic distress, asset class returns tend to move in the same direction and be more highly correlated. These increased correlations are no doubt due to the increased importance of macro factors driving corporate cash flows. The increased correlations limit, but do not eliminate, diversification’s value. It would be foolish to conclude from this that you should be undiversified. If a seat belt doesn’t provide perfect protection, it still makes sense to wear one. Statistics show it’s better to wear a seatbelt than to not wear one.  Similarly, statistics show diversification reduces risk, and that you are better off diversifying than not.

Timing the market

The obvious question to ask anyone who insists diversification across asset classes is not effective is: What is the alternative? Some say “Time the market.” Make sure you hold an asset class when it is earning good returns, but sell as soon as things are about to go south. Even better, take short positions when the outlook is negative. With a trustworthy crystal ball, this is a winning strategy. The potential gains are huge. If you had perfect foresight and could time the S&P 500 on a daily basis, you could have turned $1,000 on Jan. 1, 2000, into $120,975,000 on Dec. 31, 2009, just by going in and out of the market. If you could also short the market when appropriate, the gains would have been even more spectacular!

Sometimes, it seems someone may have a fairly reliable crystal ball. Consider John Paulson, who in 2007 and 2008 seemed so prescient in profiting from the subprime market’s collapse. It appears, however, that Mr. Paulson’s crystal ball became less reliable after his stunning success in 2007. His Advantage Plus fund experienced more than a 50% loss in 2011. Separating luck from skill is often difficult.

Some people try to come up with a way to time the market based on historical data. In fact a large number of strategies will work well “in the back test.” The question is whether any system is reliable enough to use for future investing.

There are at least three reasons to be cautious about substituting a timing system for diversification.

Black Swans

What about those Black Swans? Doesn’t MPT ignore the possibility that we can be surprised by the unexpected? Isn’t it impossible to measure risk when there are unknown unknowns?

Most people recognize that financial markets are not like simple games of chance where risk can be quantified precisely. As we’ve seen (e.g., the “Black Monday” stock market crash of 1987 and the “flash crash” of 2010), the markets can produce extreme events that hardly anyone contemplated as a possibility. As opposed to poker, where we always draw from the same 52-card deck, in financial markets, asset returns are drawn from changing distributions as the world economy and financial relationships change.

Some Black Swan events turned out to have limited effects on investors over the long term. Although the market dropped precipitously in October 1987, it was close to fully recovered in June 1988. The flash crash was confined to a single day.
This is not to say that all “surprise” events are transitory. The Great Depression followed the stock market crash of 1929, and the effects of the financial crisis in 2007 and 2008 linger on five years later.

The question is, how should we respond to uncertainties and Black Swans? One sensible way is to be more diligent in quantifying the risks we can see. For example, since extreme events don’t happen often, we’re likely to be misled if we base our risk assessment on what has occurred over short time periods. We shouldn’t conclude that just because housing prices haven’t gone down over 20 years that a housing decline is not a meaningful risk. In the case of natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, asteroid strikes and solar storms, the long run could be very long indeed. While we can’t capture all risks by looking far back in time, taking into account long-term data means we’re less likely to be surprised.

Some people suggest you should respond to the risk of unknown unknowns by investing very conservatively. This means allocating most of the portfolio to “safe assets” and significantly reducing exposure to risky assets, which are likely to be affected by Black Swan surprises. This response is consistent with MPT. If you worry about Black Swans, you are, for all intents and purposes, a very risk-averse investor. The MPT portfolio position for very risk-averse investors is a position on the efficient frontier that has little risk.

The cost of investing in a low-risk position is a lower expected return (recall that historically the average return on stocks was about three times that on U.S. Treasuries), but maybe you think that’s a price worth paying. Can everyone take extremely conservative positions to avoid Black Swan risk? This clearly won’t work, because some investors must hold risky assets. If all investors try to avoid Black Swan events, the prices of those risky assets will fall to a point where the forecasted returns become too large to ignore.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
All quant theories and strategies in finance are based upon some foundational assumptions that in rare instances turn into the Achilles' heel of the entire superstructure. The classic example is the wonderful theory and arbitrage strategy of Long Term Capital Management (LTCM) formed by the best quants in finance (two with Nobel Prizes in economics). After remarkable successes one nickel at a time in a secret global arbitrage strategy based heavily on the Black-Scholes Model, LTCM placed a trillion dollar bet that failed dramatically and became the only hedge fund that nearly imploded all of Wall Street. At a heavy cost, Wall Street investment bankers pooled billions of dollars to quietly shut down LTCM ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm#LTCM

So what was the Achilles heal of the arbitrage strategy of LTCM? It was an assumption that a huge portion of the global financial market would not collapse all at once. Low and behold, the Asian financial markets collapsed all at once and left LTCM naked and dangling from a speculative cliff.

There is a tremendous (one of the best videos I've ever seen on the Black-Scholes Model) PBS Nova video called "Trillion Dollar Bet" explaining why LTCM collapsed.  Go to http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/stockmarket/ 
This video is in the media libraries on most college campuses.  I highly recommend showing this video to students.  It is extremely well done and exciting to watch.

One of the more interesting summaries is the Report of The President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, April 1999 --- http://www.ustreas.gov/press/releases/reports/hedgfund.pdf 

The principal policy issue arising out of the events surrounding the near collapse of LTCM is how to constrain excessive leverage. By increasing the chance that problems at one financial institution could be transmitted to other institutions, excessive leverage can increase the likelihood of a general breakdown in the functioning of financial markets. This issue is not limited to hedge funds; other financial institutions are often larger and more highly leveraged than most hedge funds.

What went wrong at Long Term Capital Management? --- http://www.killer-essays.com/Economics/euz220.shtml 

The video and above reports, however, do not delve into the tax shelter pushed by Myron Scholes and his other LTCM partners. A nice summary of the tax shelter case with links to other documents can be found at http://www.cambridgefinance.com/CFP-LTCM.pdf 

The above August 27, 2004 ruling by Judge Janet Bond Arterton rounds out the "Trillion Dollar Bet."

The classic and enormous scandal was Long Term Capital led by Nobel Prize winning Merton and Scholes (actually the blame is shared  with their devoted doctoral students).  There is a tremendous (one of the best videos I've ever seen on the Black-Scholes Model) PBS Nova video ("Trillion Dollar Bet") explaining why LTC collapsed.  Go to http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/stockmarket/ 

Another illustration of the Achilles' heel of a popular mathematical theory and strategy is the 2008 collapse mortgage-backed CDO financial risk bonds based upon David Li's Gaussian copula function of risk diversification in portfolios. The Achilles' heel was the assumption that the real estate bubble would not burst to a point where millions of subprime mortgages would all go into default at roughly the same time.

Can the 2008 investment banking failure be traced to a math error?
Recipe for Disaster:  The Formula That Killed Wall Street --- http://www.wired.com/techbiz/it/magazine/17-03/wp_quant?currentPage=all
Link forwarded by Jim Mahar ---
http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/recipe-for-disaster-formula-that-killed.html 

Some highlights:

"For five years, Li's formula, known as a Gaussian copula function, looked like an unambiguously positive breakthrough, a piece of financial technology that allowed hugely complex risks to be modeled with more ease and accuracy than ever before. With his brilliant spark of mathematical legerdemain, Li made it possible for traders to sell vast quantities of new securities, expanding financial markets to unimaginable levels.

His method was adopted by everybody from bond investors and Wall Street banks to ratings agencies and regulators. And it became so deeply entrenched—and was making people so much money—that warnings about its limitations were largely ignored.

Then the model fell apart." The article goes on to show that correlations are at the heart of the problem.

"The reason that ratings agencies and investors felt so safe with the triple-A tranches was that they believed there was no way hundreds of homeowners would all default on their loans at the same time. One person might lose his job, another might fall ill. But those are individual calamities that don't affect the mortgage pool much as a whole: Everybody else is still making their payments on time.

But not all calamities are individual, and tranching still hadn't solved all the problems of mortgage-pool risk. Some things, like falling house prices, affect a large number of people at once. If home values in your neighborhood decline and you lose some of your equity, there's a good chance your neighbors will lose theirs as well. If, as a result, you default on your mortgage, there's a higher probability they will default, too. That's called correlation—the degree to which one variable moves in line with another—and measuring it is an important part of determining how risky mortgage bonds are."

I would highly recommend reading the entire thing that gets much more involved with the actual formula etc.

The “math error” might truly be have been an error or it might have simply been a gamble with what was perceived as miniscule odds of total market failure. Something similar happened in the case of the trillion-dollar disastrous 1993 collapse of Long Term Capital Management formed by Nobel Prize winning economists and their doctoral students who took similar gambles that ignored the “miniscule odds” of world market collapse -- -
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm#LTCM  

The rhetorical question is whether the failure is ignorance in model building or risk taking using the model?

"In Plato's Cave:  Mathematical models are a powerful way of predicting financial markets. But they are fallible" The Economist, January 24, 2009, pp. 10-14 ---
http://www.economist.com/specialreports/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12957753

ROBERT RUBIN was Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary. He has worked at the top of Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. But he made arguably the single most influential decision of his long career in 1983, when as head of risk arbitrage at Goldman he went to the MIT Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to hire an economist called Fischer Black.

A decade earlier Myron Scholes, Robert Merton and Black had explained how to use share prices to calculate the value of derivatives. The Black-Scholes options-pricing model was more than a piece of geeky mathematics. It was a manifesto, part of a revolution that put an end to the anti-intellectualism of American finance and transformed financial markets from bull rings into today’s quantitative powerhouses. Yet, in a roundabout way, Black’s approach also led to some of the late boom’s most disastrous lapses.

Derivatives markets are not new, nor are they an exclusively Western phenomenon. Mr Merton has described how Osaka’s Dojima rice market offered forward contracts in the 17th century and organised futures trading by the 18th century. However, the growth of derivatives in the 36 years since Black’s formula was published has taken them from the periphery of financial services to the core.

In “The Partnership”, a history of Goldman Sachs, Charles Ellis records how the derivatives markets took off. The International Monetary Market opened in 1972; Congress allowed trade in commodity options in 1976; S&P 500 futures launched in 1982, and options on those futures a year later. The Chicago Board Options Exchange traded 911 contracts on April 26th 1973, its first day (and only one month before Black-Scholes appeared in print). In 2007 the CBOE’s volume of contracts reached almost 1 trillion.

Trading has exploded partly because derivatives are useful. After America came off the gold standard in 1971, businesses wanted a way of protecting themselves against the movements in exchange rates, just as they sought protection against swings in interest rates after Paul Volcker, Mr Greenspan’s predecessor as chairman of the Fed, tackled inflation in the 1980s. Equity options enabled investors to lay off general risk so that they could concentrate on the specific types of corporate risk they wanted to trade.

The other force behind the explosion in derivatives trading was the combination of mathematics and computing. Before Black-Scholes, option prices had been little more than educated guesses. The new model showed how to work out an option price from the known price-behaviour of a share and a bond. It is as if you had a formula for working out the price of a fruit salad from the prices of the apples and oranges that went into it, explains Emanuel Derman, a physicist who later took Black’s job at Goldman. Confidence in pricing gave buyers and sellers the courage to pile into derivatives. The better that real prices correlate with the unknown option price, the more confidently you can take on any level of risk. “In a thirsty world filled with hydrogen and oxygen,” Mr Derman has written, “someone had finally worked out how to synthesise H2O.”

Poetry in Brownian motion Black-Scholes is just a model, not a complete description of the world. Every model makes simplifications, but some of the simplifications in Black-Scholes looked as if they would matter. For instance, the maths it uses to describe how share prices move comes from the equations in physics that describe the diffusion of heat. The idea is that share prices follow some gentle random walk away from an equilibrium, rather like motes of dust jiggling around in Brownian motion. In fact, share-price movements are more violent than that.

Over the years the “quants” have found ways to cope with this—better ways to deal with, as it were, quirks in the prices of fruit and fruit salad. For a start, you can concentrate on the short-run volatility of prices, which in some ways tends to behave more like the Brownian motion that Black imagined. The quants can introduce sudden jumps or tweak their models to match actual share-price movements more closely. Mr Derman, who is now a professor at New York’s Columbia University and a partner at Prisma Capital Partners, a fund of hedge funds, did some of his best-known work modelling what is called the “volatility smile”—an anomaly in options markets that first appeared after the 1987 stockmarket crash when investors would pay extra for protection against another imminent fall in share prices.

The fixes can make models complex and unwieldy, confusing traders or deterring them from taking up new ideas. There is a constant danger that behaviour in the market changes, as it did after the 1987 crash, or that liquidity suddenly dries up, as it has done in this crisis. But the quants are usually pragmatic enough to cope. They are not seeking truth or elegance, just a way of capturing the behaviour of a market and of linking an unobservable or illiquid price to prices in traded markets. The limit to the quants’ tinkering has been not mathematics but the speed, power and cost of computers. Nobody has any use for a model which takes so long to compute that the markets leave it behind.

The idea behind quantitative finance is to manage risk. You make money by taking known risks and hedging the rest. And in this crash foreign-exchange, interest-rate and equity derivatives models have so far behaved roughly as they should.

A muddle of mortgages Yet the idea behind modelling got garbled when pools of mortgages were bundled up into collateralised-debt obligations (CDOs). The principle is simple enough. Imagine a waterfall of mortgage payments: the AAA investors at the top catch their share, the next in line take their share from what remains, and so on. At the bottom are the “equity investors” who get nothing if people default on their mortgage payments and the money runs out.

Despite the theory, CDOs were hopeless, at least with hindsight (doesn’t that phrase come easily?). The cash flowing from mortgage payments into a single CDO had to filter up through several layers. Assets were bundled into a pool, securitised, stuffed into a CDO, bits of that plugged into the next CDO and so on and on. Each source of a CDO had interminable pages of its own documentation and conditions, and a typical CDO might receive income from several hundred sources. It was a lawyer’s paradise.

This baffling complexity could hardly be more different from an equity or an interest rate. It made CDOs impossible to model in anything but the most rudimentary way—all the more so because each one contained a unique combination of underlying assets. Each CDO would be sold on the basis of its own scenario, using central assumptions about the future of interest rates and defaults to “demonstrate” the payouts over, say, the next 30 years. This central scenario would then be “stress-tested” to show that the CDO was robust—though oddly the tests did not include a 20% fall in house prices.

This was modelling at its most feeble. Derivatives model an unknown price from today’s known market prices. By contrast, modelling from history is dangerous. There was no guarantee that the future would be like the past, if only because the American housing market had never before been buoyed up by a frenzy of CDOs. In any case, there are not enough past housing data to form a rich statistical picture of the market—especially if you decide not to include the 1930s nationwide fall in house prices in your sample.

Neither could the models take account of falling mortgage-underwriting standards. Mr Rajan of the University of Chicago says academic research suggests mortgage originators, keen to automate their procedures, stopped giving potential borrowers lengthy interviews because they could not easily quantify the firmness of someone’s handshake or the fixity of their gaze. Such things turned out to be better predictors of default than credit scores or loan-to-value ratios, but the investors at the end of a long chain of securities could not monitor lending decisions.

The issuers of CDOs asked rating agencies to assess their quality. Although the agencies insist that they did a thorough job, a senior quant at a large bank says that the agencies’ models were even less sophisticated than the issuers’. For instance, a BBB tranche in a CDO might pay out in full if the defaults remained below 6%, and not at all once they went above 6.5%. That is an all-or-nothing sort of return, quite different from a BBB corporate bond, say. And yet, because both shared the same BBB rating, they would be modelled in the same way.

Issuers like to have an edge over the rating agencies. By paying one for rating the CDOs, some may have laid themselves open to a conflict of interest. With help from companies like Codefarm, an outfit from Brighton in Britain that knew the agencies’ models for corporate CDOs, issuers could build securities with any risk profile they chose, including those made up from lower-quality ingredients that would nevertheless win AAA ratings. Codefarm has recently applied for administration.

There is a saying on Wall Street that the test of a product is whether clients will buy it. Would they have bought into CDOs had it not been for the dazzling performance of the quants in foreign-exchange, interest-rate and equity derivatives? There is every sign that the issuing banks believed their own sales patter. The banks so liked CDOs that they held on to a lot of their own issues, even when the idea behind the business had been to sell them on. They also lent buyers much of the money to bid for CDOs, certain that the securities were a sound investment. With CDOs in deep trouble, the lenders are now suffering.

Modern finance is supposed to be all about measuring risks, yet corporate and mortgage-backed CDOs were a leap in the dark. According to Mr Derman, with Black-Scholes “you know what you are assuming when you use the model, and you know exactly what has been swept out of view, and hence you can think clearly about what you may have overlooked.” By contrast, with CDOs “you don’t quite know what you are ignoring, so you don’t know how to adjust for its inadequacies.”

Now that the world has moved far beyond any of the scenarios that the CDO issuers modelled, investors’ quantitative grasp of the payouts has fizzled into blank uncertainty. That makes it hard to put any value on them, driving away possible buyers. The trillion-dollar bet on mortgages has gone disastrously wrong. The hope is that the trillion-dollar bet on companies does not end up that way too.

Continued in article

Closing Jensen Comment
So is portfolio diversification theory dead? I hardly think so. But if any lesson is to be learned is that we should question those critical underlying assumptions in Plato's Cave before worldwide strategies are implemented that overlook the Achilles' heel of those critical underlying assumptions.

 


Purpose of Theory:  Prediction Versus Explanation

"Higgs ahoy! The elusive boson has probably been found. That is a triumph for the predictive power of physics," The Economist, February 17, 2012 ---
http://www.economist.com/node/21541825

IN PHYSICS, the trick is often to ask a question so obvious no one else would have thought of posing it. Apples have fallen to the ground since time immemorial. It took the genius of Sir Isaac Newton to ask why. Of course, it helps if you have the mental clout to work out the answer. Fortunately, Newton did.

It was in this spirit, almost 50 years ago, that a few insightful physicists asked themselves where mass comes from. Like the tendency of apples to fall to the ground, the existence of mass is so quotidian that the idea it needs a formal explanation would never occur to most people. But it did occur to Peter Higgs, then a young researcher at Edinburgh University, and to five other scientists whom the quirks of celebrity have not treated so kindly. They, too, had the necessary mental clout. They got out their pencils and papers and scribbled down equations whose upshot was a prediction.

The reason that fundamental particles have mass, the researchers calculated, is their interaction with a previously unknown field that permeates space. This field came to be named (with no disrespect to the losers in the celebrity race) the Higgs field. Technically, it is needed to explain a phenomenon called electroweak symmetry breaking, which divides two of the fundamental forces of nature, electromagnetism and the weak nuclear force. When that division happens, a bit of leftover mathematics manifests itself as a particle. This putative particle has become known as the Higgs boson, whose possible discovery was announced to the world on December 13th (see article).

Physicists demand a level of proof that would in any other human activity (including other scientific ones) be seen as ludicrously high—that a result has only one chance in 3.5m of being wrong. The new results—from experiments done at CERN, the world’s premier particle-physics laboratory, using its multi-billion-dollar Large Hadron Collider, the LHC—do not individually come close to that threshold. What has excited physicists, though, is that they have got essentially identical results from two experiments attached to the LHC, which work in completely different ways. This coincidence makes it much more likely that they have discovered the real deal.

If they have, it would be a wonderful thing, and not just for science. Though nations no longer tremble at the feet of particle physicists—the men, and a few women, who once delivered the destructive power of the atom bomb—physics still has the power to produce awe in another way, by revealing the basic truths that underpin reality.

Model behaviour

Finding the Higgs would mark the closing of one chapter in this story. The elusive boson rounds off what has become known as the Standard Model of physics—an explanation that relies on 17 fundamental particles and three physical forces (though it stubbornly refuses to accommodate a fourth force, gravity, which is separately explained by Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity). Much more intriguingly, the Higgs also opens another chapter of physics.

The physicists’ plan is to use the Standard Model as the foundation of a larger and more beautiful edifice called Supersymmetry. This predicts a further set of particles, the heavier partners of those already found. How much heavier, though, depends on how heavy the Higgs itself is. The results just announced suggest it is light enough for some of the predicted supersymmetric particles to be made in the LHC too.

That is a great relief to those at CERN. If the Higgs had proved much heavier than this week’s announcement implies they might have found themselves with a lot of redundant kit on their hands. Now they can start looking for the bricks of Supersymmetry, to see if it, too, resembles the physicists’ predictions. In particular, in a crossover between particle physics and cosmology, they will be trying to find out if (as the maths suggest) the lightest of the supersymmetric partner particles are the stuff of the hitherto mysterious “dark matter” whose gravity holds galaxies together.

A critique of pure reason

One of the most extraordinary things about the universe is this predictability—that it is possible to write down equations which describe what is seen, and extrapolate from them to the unseen. Newton was able to go from the behaviour of bodies falling to Earth to the mechanism that holds planets in orbit. James Clerk Maxwell’s equations of electromagnetism, derived in the mid-19th century, predicted the existence of radio waves. The atom bomb began with Einstein’s famous equation, E=mc{+2}, which was a result derived by asking how objects would behave when travelling near the speed of light. The search for antimatter, that staple of science fiction, was the consequence of an equation about electrons which has two sets of solutions, one positive and one negative.

Eugene Wigner, one of the physicists responsible for showing, in the 1920s, the importance of symmetry to the universe (and who was thus a progenitor of Supersymmetry), described this as the “unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics”. Not all such predictions come true, of course. But the predictive power of mathematical physics—as opposed to the after-the-fact explanatory power of maths in other fields—is still extraordinary.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on theory ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm


Monty Hall Paradox Video ---
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhlc7peGlGg

Monty Hall Paradox Explanation ---
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monte_Hall_paradox

Jensen Comment
Of course the paradox in real life decision making, that takes it out of the real of the Monty Hall solutions and game theory in general, is that in the real world the probabilities of finding what's behind closed doors are unknown.

An alternate solution when probabilities are unknown for paths leading to closed doors is the Robert Frost solution to choose the door least opened.---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/tidbits/2007/tidbits070905.htm

What the Monty Hall Paradox teaches us, at least symbolically, is that sometimes the most obvious common sense solutions to problems are not necessarily optimal. The geniuses in life discover better solutions that most of would consider absurd at the time --- such as that time is relative and not absolute ---
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_relativity

Richard Sansing forwarded the link
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_restricted_choice_(bridge)


Hi Steve and Jagdish,

Buried in the 2011Denver presentation by Greg Waymire is a lament about two of my hot buttons. Greg mentions the lack of replication (shall we call them reproductions?) in findings (harvests)  published in academic accounting research journals. Secondly, he mentions the lack of commentary and debate concerning these these findings. It seems that there's not a whole lot of interest (debate) about those findings among practitioners or in our academy ---
http://commons.aaahq.org/hives/629d926370/summary 


At long last we are making progress in finally getting the attention of the American Accounting Association leaders regarding how to broaden research methods and topics of study (beyond financial reporting)  in academic accounting research. The AAA Executive Committee now has annual retreats devoted to this most serious hole that accountics researchers have dug (Steve calls it a "dig" in the message from Jagdish) us into over the past four decades.


Change in academic accounting research will come very slowly. Paul Williams blames the slowness of change on the accountics scientist-conspired monopoly. I'm less inclined to blame the problem of conspiracy. I think the biggest problem is that accountics research in capital markets studies is so much easier since the data is provided like manna from heaven from CRSP, Compustat, AuditAnalytics, etc. No added scientific effort to collect data is required by accountics scientists. At CERN, however, physics scientists had to collect new data to cast doubt on prevailing speed of light theory.


Two years ago, at a meeting, I encountered one of my former students who eventually entered a leading accounting PhD program and was completing his dissertation. When I asked him why he was doing a traditional accountics-science dissertation he admitted that this was much easier than having to collect his own data.


Now more to the point concerning the messaging of Jagdish and Steve is my message earlier this week about the physics of economics in general.

Purpose of Theory:  Prediction Versus Explanation

"Milton Friedman's grand illusion," by Mark Buchanan, The Physics of Finance: A look at economics and finance through the lens of physics, September 16, 2011 ---
http://physicsoffinance.blogspot.com/2011/09/milton-friedmans-grand-illusion.html

Three years ago I wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times on the need for radical change in the way economists model whole economies. Today's General Equilibrium models -- and their slightly more sophisticated cousins, Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium models -- make assumptions with no basis in reality. For example, there is no financial sector in these model economies. They generally assume that the diversity of behaviour of all an economy's many firms and consumers can be ignored and simply included as the average behaviour of a few "representative" agents.

I argued then that it was about time economists started using far more sophisticated modeling tools, including agent based models, in which the diversity of interactions among economic agents can be included along with a financial sector. The idea is to model the simpler behaviours of agents as well as you can and let the macro-scale complex behaviour of the economy emerge naturally out of them, without making any restrictive assumptions about what kinds of things can or cannot happen in the larger economy. This kind of work is going forward rapidly. For some detail, I recommend
this talk earlier this month by Doyne Farmer.

After that Op-Ed I received quite a number of emails from economists defending the General Equilibrium approach. Several of them mentioned Milton Friedman in their defense, saying that he had shown long ago that one shouldn't worry about the realism of the assumptions in a theory, but only about the accuracy of its predictions. I eventually found the paper to which they were referring, a classic in economic history which has exerted a huge influence over economists over the past half century. I recently re-read the paper and wanted to make a few comments on Friedman's main argument. It rests entirely, I think, on a devious or slippery use of words which makes it possible to give a sensible sounding argument for what is actually a ridiculous proposition. 

The paper is entitled
The Methodology of Positive Economics and was first published in 1953. It's an interesting paper and enjoyable to read. Essentially, it seems, Friedman's aim is to argue for scientific standards for economics akin to those used in physics. He begins by making a clear definition of what he means by "positive economics," which aims to be free from any particular ethical position or normative judgments. As he wrote, positive economics deals with...
 
"what is," not with "what ought to be." Its task is to provide a system of generalizations that can be used to make correct predictions about the consequences of any change in circumstances. Its performance is to be judged by the precision, scope, and conformity with experience of the predictions it yields.
Friedman then asks how one should judge the validity of a hypothesis, and asserts that...
 
...the only relevant test of the validity of a hypothesis is comparison of its predictions with experience. The hypothesis is rejected if its predictions are contradicted ("frequently" or more often than predictions from an alternative hypothesis); it is accepted if its predictions are not contradicted; great confidence is attached to it if it has survived many opportunities for contradiction. Factual evidence can never "prove" a hypothesis; it can only fail to disprove it, which is what we generally mean when we say, somewhat inexactly, that the hypothesis has been "confirmed" by experience."

So far so good. I think most scientists would see the above as conforming fairly closely to their own conception of how science should work (and of course this view is closely linked to views made famous by Karl Popper).

Next step: Friedman goes on to ask how one chooses between several hypotheses if they are all equally consistent with the available evidence. Here too his initial observations seem quite sensible:

 
...there is general agreement that relevant considerations are suggested by the criteria "simplicity" and "fruitfulness," themselves notions that defy completely objective specification. A theory is "simpler" the less the initial knowledge needed to make a prediction within a given field of phenomena; it is more "fruitful" the more precise the resulting prediction, the wider the area within which the theory yields predictions, and the more additional lines for further research it suggests.
Again, right in tune I think with the practice and views of most scientists. I especially like the final point that part of the value of a hypothesis also comes from how well it stimulates creative thinking about further hypotheses and theories. This point is often overlooked.

Friedman's essay then shifts direction. He argues that the processes and practices involved in the initial formation of a hypothesis, and in the testing of that hypothesis, are not as distinct as people often think, Indeed, this is obviously so. Many scientists form a hypothesis and try to test it, then adjust the hypothesis slightly in view of the data. There's an ongoing evolution of the hypothesis in correspondence with the data and the kinds of experiments of observations which seem interesting.

To this point, Friedman's essay says nothing that wouldn't fit into any standard discussion of the generally accepted philosophy of science from the 1950s. But this is where it suddenly veers off wildly and attempts to support a view that is indeed quite radical. Friedman mentions the difficulty in the social sciences of getting
new evidence with which to test an hypothesis by looking at its implications. This difficulty, he suggests,

 
... makes it tempting to suppose that other, more readily available, evidence is equally relevant to the validity of the hypothesis-to suppose that hypotheses have not only "implications" but also "assumptions" and that the conformity of these "assumptions" to "reality" is a test of the validity of the hypothesis different from or additional to the test by implications. This widely held view is fundamentally wrong and productive of much mischief.
Having raised this idea that assumptions are not part of what should be tested, Friedman then goes on to attack very strongly the idea that a theory should strive at all to have realistic assumptions. Indeed, he suggests, a theory is actually superior insofar as its assumptions are unrealistic:
 
In so far as a theory can be said to have "assumptions" at all, and in so far as their "realism" can be judged independently of the validity of predictions, the relation between the significance of a theory and the "realism" of its "assumptions" is almost the opposite of that suggested by the view under criticism. Truly important and significant hypotheses will be found to have "assumptions" that are wildly inaccurate descriptive representations of reality, and, in general, the more significant the theory, the more unrealistic the assumptions... The reason is simple. A hypothesis is important if it "explains" much by little,...   To be important, therefore, a hypothesis must be descriptively false in its assumptions...
This is the statement that the economists who wrote to me used to defend unrealistic assumptions in General Equilibrium theories. Their point was that having unrealistic assumptions isn't just not a problem, but is a positive strength for a theory. The more unrealistic the better, as Friedman argued (and apparently proved, in the eyes of some economists).

Now, what is wrong with Friedman's argument, if anything?  I think the key issue is his use of the provocative terms such as "unrealistic" and "false" and "inaccurate" in places where he actually means "simplified," "approximate" or "incomplete."  He switches without warning between these two different meanings in order to make the conclusion seem unavoidable, and profound, when in fact it is simply not true, or something we already believe and hardly profound at all.

To see the problem, take a simple example in physics. Newtonian dynamics describes the motions of the planets quite accurately (in many cases) even if the planets are treated as point masses having no extension, no rotation, no oceans and tides, mountains, trees and so on. The great triumph of Newtonian dynamics (including his law of gravitational attraction) is it's simplicity -- it asserts that out of all the many details that could conceivably influence planetary motion, two (mass and distance) matter most by far. The atmosphere of the planet doesn't matter much, nor does the amount of sunlight it reflects. The theory of course goes further to describe how other details do matter if one considers planetary motion in more detail -- rotation does matter, for example, because it generates tides which dissipate energy, taking energy slowly away from orbital motion. 

But I don't think anyone would be tempted to say that Newtonian dynamics is a powerful theory because it is descriptively false in its assumptions. It's assumptions are actually descriptively simple -- that planets and The Sun have mass, and that a force acts between any two masses in proportion to the product of their masses and in inverse proportional to the distance between them. From these assumptions one can work out predictions for details of planetary motion, and those details turn out to be close to what we see. The assumptions are simple and plausible, and this is what makes the theory so powerful when it turns out to make powerful and accurate predictions.

Indeed, if those same predictions came out of a theory with obviously false assumptions -- all planets are perfect cubes, etc. -- it would be less powerful by far because it would be less believable. It's ability to make predictions would be as big a mystery as the original phenomenon of planetary motion itself -- how can a theory that is so obviously not in tune with reality still make such accurate predictions?

So whenever Friedman says "descriptively false" I think you can instead write "descriptively simple", and clarify the meaning by adding a phrase of the sort "which identify the key factors which matter most." Do that replacement in Friedman's most provocative phrase from above and you have something far more sensible:

 
A hypothesis is important if it "explains" much by little,...   To be important, therefore, a hypothesis must be descriptively simple in its assumptions. It must identify the key factors which matter most...

That's not quite so bold, however, and it doesn't create a license for theorists to make any assumptions they want without being criticized if those assumptions stray very far from reality.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Especially note the comments at the end of this article.

My favorite is the following:

Herbert Simon (1963) countered Friedman by stating the purpose of scientific theories is not to make predictions, but to explain things - predictions are then tests of whether the explanations are correct.

Both Friedman and Simon's views are better directed to a field other than economics. The data at some point will always expose the frailest of assumptions; while the lack of repeatable results supports futility in the explanation of heterogeneous agents.

That's perceptive. Scientists should just steer clear of economics. Economics is so complex it is better suited to astrologists.

Also see the following comment"

David K. Waltz said...
There are certainly financial theories with patently false assumptions. For example, the Capital Asset Pricing Model:

> all investors are rational
> all investors have perfect information
> all investors can borrow and lend at the risk-free rate
> all investors can buy and short the market in unlimited quantities

We know none of these assumptions are true. How many of us can borrow at the risk-free rate? Yet they are some of the assumptions that underlie Nobel Prize winning theories.

As suggested in the blog, these false assumptions are made because they are ancillary to the main point of the theory, which speaks to asset pricing being a function of risk vs. return, and how these assets together comprise portfolios.

For these items the above does not matter.

However, if we were to go about modeling the stock or bond market for a month to assess our own portfolio, the false assumptions would matter greatly.

I wrote a brief blog post along similar track a couple months back if you are interested -

http://treasurycafe.blogspot.com/2011/07/capm-interlude-theory-of-theory.html 

Bob Jensen's threads on accounting theory are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm


You may want to look at Carla Carnagha's slide show entitled
"Strategies for Teaching the Accounting Theory Course:
Curriculum, Pedagogy and Resources
"
http://commons.aaahq.org/files/8ba2111d71/AAA_Presentation_final.ppt

Bob Jensen's continuously updated two volumes on accounting theory ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm 


 

Hi Dennis,

I think there's a fundamental choice to make regarding whether to focus on accounting theory in history versus contemporary accounting theory.


Contemporary accounting theory builds on contemporary theory and contracting in finance and economics, including such topics as those listed below:

 

Financial Accounting Theory Extensions of the Following Topics:
Structured Finance --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structured_finance 
Securitization --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Securitization 
Portfolio Theory (including the CAPM and Options Pricing) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portfolio_theory
M&M Theory --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modigliani-Miller_theorem 
Financial Instruments --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_instruments 
Derivative Financial Instruments --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derivative_%28finance%29 
Other topics listed at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm 
 

The last time I taught a contemporary accounting theory course, the 2006 syllabus was the one at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/acct5341/acct5341.htm 
 


 

Managerial and Organizational Accounting Theory Extensions could build on the following: ---

Great Minds in Management:  The Process of Theory Development --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/GreatMinds.htm


 

Great Minds in Sociology ---
http://www.sociosite.net/topics/sociologists.php
Also see Also see http://www.sociologyprofessor.com/ 



Accounting history builds on content of accounting theory articles in the published leading academic accounting journals such as TAR between the Years 1925 and 1990. After 1990, I think many accounting theory professors shifted more toward contemporary accounting theory topics. As a result, most previous accounting theory textbooks became history.


The older style accounting theory courses were often rooted more in philosophy. For example, you could cherry pick topics from Harry Wolk's 2009 four-volume set. If course this set is both too extensive and too expensive to serve as a textbook for a single course.


 

Capsule Commentary Book Review, The Accounting Review, January 2012, pp. 356-357 ---
http://aaajournals.org/doi/full/10.2308/accr-10189

CAPSULE COMMENTARY

Stephen A. Zeff, Editor

HARRY I. WOLK (editor), Accounting Theory (London, U.K.: Sage Publications Ltd., 2009, ISBN 978-1-84787-609-6, pp. xlv, 1,518 in four volumes) ---
http://www.uk.sagepub.com/books/Book233127?siteId=sage-uk&prodTypes=any&q=Accounting+Theory&fs=1


 

Harry I. Wolk, the compiler of this collection of 74 previously published articles and other essays, died in October 2009 at age 79. In 1984, he was assisted by two colleagues in writing a thoughtful, wide-ranging textbook on accounting theory, which is now in its seventh edition. He has, thus, been a close student of the accounting theory literature for many years.


 

Wolk's valedictory contribution is this anthology, which is divided into ten sections: philosophical background, accounting concepts, conceptual frameworks, accounting for changing prices, standard setting, applications of accounting theory to five measurement areas, agency theory, principles versus rules, international accounting standards, and accounting issues in East and Southeast Asia. Because he provides only a two-and-a-half-page general introduction, we cannot know the criteria he used to make these selections. The earliest of the articles dates from 1958, and one infers that this collection represents the body of work that, over his long career, mostly at Drake University, he found to be influential writings.


 

Among the major contributors to the theory literature represented in the collection are Devine, Mattessich, Davidson, Solomons, Sterling, Thomas, Bell, Shillinglaw, Bedford, Ijiri, and Stamp. Conspicuous omissions are Chambers, Baxter, Staubus, Moonitz, Sorter, and Vatter. Although many of the earlier pieces have stood the test of time, a number of the more recent selections would, inevitably, be open to second-guessing. To be sure, most of these articles can be accessed electronically, yet it is instructive to know the works that Harry Wolk believed were worth remembering, and it is handy to have them all in one collection.

The price tag of £600/$1,050 for the four-volume set will, unfortunately, deter all but the most enthusiastic purchasers.


 

Jensen Comment
And to think my constantly-updated accounting theory book (in two volumes) has a price tag of $0 (Sigh!)---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm


 

But I do thank Harry for providing me with an accounting illustration that I turned into the most popular Excel illustration that I ever authored (i.e., popular in the eyes of my students over the years) ---
www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/Excel/wtdcase2a.xls


 

Table of Contents ---
http://www.uk.sagepub.com/books/Book233127?siteId=sage-uk&prodTypes=any&q=Accounting+Theory&fs=1#tabview=toc

SECTION I: PHILOSOPHICAL BACKGROUND Accounting - A System of Measurement Rules Devine, Carl Radical Developments in Accounting Thought Chua, Wai Fong Accounting as a Discipline for Study and Practice Bell, Philip W. Why Can Accounting Not Become a Science Like Physics? Stamp, Edward Social Reality and the Measurement of Its Phenomena Mattessich, Richard Toward a Science of Accounting Sterling, Robert R. Methodological Problems and Preconditions of a General Theory of Accounting Mattessich, Richard


 

SECTION II: INFORMALLY DEVELOPED ACCOUNTING CONCEPTS A. Realization and Recognition The Critical Event and Recognition of Net Profit Myers, John Recognition Requirements - Income Earned and Realized Devine, Carl The Realization Concept Davidson, Sidney B. Matching Cash Movements and Periodic Income Determination Storey, Reed Some Impossibilities - Including Allocations Devine, Carl The FASB and the Allocation Fallacy Thomas, Arthur Conservatism Conservatism in Accounting, Part I: Explanation and Implications Watts, Ross Conservatism in Accounting, Part II: Evidence and Research Opportunities Watts, Ross The Changing Time-Series Properties ofEarnings, Cash Flows, and Accruals: Has Financial Accounting Become Mor Conservative? Givoly, Dan and Carla Hayn D. Disclosure Information Disclosure Strategy Lev, Baruch Corporate Reporting and the Accounting Profession: An Interpretive Paradigm Ogan, Pekin and David Ziebart Financial Reporting in India: Changes in Disclosure over the Period 1982-1990 Marston, C. L. and P. Robson Corporate Mandatory Disclosure Practices in Bangladesh M. Akhtaruddin Corporate Governance and Voluntary Disclosure L.L. Eng and Y.T. Mak Ownership Structure and Voluntary Disclosure in Hong Kong and Singapore Chau, Gerald and Sidney Gray E. Uniformity Uniformity Versus Flexibility: A Review of the Rhetoric Keller, Thomas Differences in Circumstances!: Fact or Fancy Cadenhead, Gary Toward the Harmonization of Accounting Standards: An Analytical Framework Wolk, Harry and Patrick Heaston


 

SECTION III: CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORKS FASB's Statements on Objectives and Elements of Financial Accounting: A Review Dopuch, Nicholas and Shyam Sunder The FASB's Conceptual Framework: An Evaluation Solomons, David The Evolution of the Conceptual Framework for Business Enterprises in the United States Zeff, Stephen Criteria for Choosing an Accounting Model Solomons, David Objectives of Financial Reporting Walker, R.G. Reliability and Objectivity of Accounting Methods Ijiri, Yuji and Robert Jaedicke


 

SECTION IV: ACCOUNTING FOR CHANGING PRICES Replacement Cost: Member of the Family, Welcome Guest, or Intruder? Zeff, Stephen Costs (Historical versus Current) versus Exit Values Sterling, Robert R. A Defense for Historical Cost Accounting Ijiri, Yuji The Case for Financial Capital Maintenance Carsberg, Bryan Income and Value Determination and Changing Price Levels: An Essay Towards a Theory Stamp, Edward


 

SECTION V: ACCOUNTING STANDARDS AND FINANCIAL STATEMENTS Get it off the Balance Sheet! Dieter, Richard and Arthur Wyatt Political Lobbying on Proposed Standards: A Challenge to the IASB Zeff, Stephen A Review of the Earnings Management Literature and Its Implications for Standard Setting Healy, Paul and James Wahlen Relationships among Income Measurements Bedford, Norton Some Basic Concepts of Accounting and Their Implications Lorig, Arthur Economic Impact of Accounting Standards - Implications for the FASB Rappaport, Alfred An Analysis of Factors Affecting the Adoption of International Accounting Standards by Developing Countries Zeghal, Daniel and Kerim Mhedhbi The Relevance of IFRS to a Developing Country: Evidence from Kazakhstan Tyrrall, David, David Woodward and A. Rakhumbekova Political Influence and Coexistence of a Uniform Accounting System and Accounting Standards: Recent Developments in China Xiao, Jason, Pauline Weetman and Manli Sun


 

SECTION VI: APPLIED ACCOUNTING THEORY A. Income Tax Allocation Comprehensive Tax Allocation: Let's Stop Taking Some Misconceptions for Granted Milburn, Alex Acccelerated Depreciation and the Allocation of Income Taxes Davidson, Sidney Discounting Deferred Tax Liabilities pp. 655-665 Nurnberg, Hugo B. Leases Lease Capitalization and the Transaction Concept Rappaport, Alfred Leasing and Financial Statements Shillinglaw, Gordon Accounting for Leases - A New Framework McGregor, Warren C. Pensions and Other Postretirement Liabilities Alternative Accounting Treatments for Pensions Schipper, Katherine and Roman Weil A Conceptual Framework Analysis of Pension and Other Postretirement Benefit Accounting Wolk, Harry and Terri Vaughan OPEB: Improved Reporting or the Last Straw Thomas, Paula and Larry Farmer D. Consolidations An Examination of Financial Reporting Alternatives for Associated Enterprises King, Thomas and Valdean Lembke Valuation for Financial Reporting: Intangible Assets, Goodwill, and Impairment Analysis and SFAS 141 and 142 Mard, Michael, James Hitchner, Steven Hyden and Mark Zyla Proportionate Consolidation and Financial Analysis Bierman, Harold The Evolution of Consolidated Financial Reporting in Australia Whittred, Greg Foreign Currency Translation Research: Review and Synthesis Houston, Carol The Implementation of SFAS Number 52: Did the Functional Currency Approach Prevail? Kirsch, Robert and Thomas Evans Financial Accounting Developments in the European Union: Past Events and Future Prospects Haller, Axel E. Intangibles Accounting for Research and Development Costs Bierman, Harold and Roland Dukes The Boundaries of Financial Accounting and How to Extend Them Lev, Baruch and Paul Zarowin The Capitalization, Amortization, and Value Added Relevance of R & D Lev, Baruch and Theodore Sougiannis Accounting for Brands in France and Germany Compared With IAS 38 (Intangible Assets: An Illustration of the Difficulty of International Harmonization) Stolowy, Herve, Axel Haller and Volker Klockhaus Accounting for Intangible Assets in Scandinavia, the U.K., and U.S. and the IASB: Challenges and a Solution Hoeg-Krohn, Niels and Kjell Knivsfla


 

SECTION VII: POSITIVE ACCOUNTING THEORY The Methodology of Positive Accounting Christenson, Charles Positive Accounting Theory: A Ten Year Perspective Watts, Ross and Jerrold Zimmerman Positive Accounting Theory and the PA Cult Chambers, Raymond Accounting and Policy Choice and Firm Characteristics in the Asia-Pacific Region: an International Empirical Test of Costly Contracting Theory Astami, Emita and Greg Tower


 

SECTION VIII: THE TRUE AND FAIR VIEW AND PRINCIPLES VERSUS RULES-BASED STANDARDS Principles Versus Rules-Based Accounting Standards: The FASB's Standard Setting Strategy Benston, George, Michael Bromwich and Alfred Wagenhofer The True and Fair View in British Accounting Walton, Peter A European True and Fair View Alexander, David Rules, Principles, and Judgments in Accounting Standards Bennett, Bruce, Helen Prangell and Michael Bradbury


 

SECTION IX: INTERNATIONAL ACCOUNTING AND CONVERGENCE The Introduction of International Accounting Standards in Europe: Implications for International Convergence Schipper, Katherine The Adoption of International Accounting Standards in the European Union pp. 127-153 Whittington, Geoffrey Trends in Research on International Accounting Harmonization pp. 272-304 Baker, C. Richard and Elena Barbou The Quest for International Accounting Harmonization: A Review of the Standard- Setting Agendas of the IASC, US, UK, Canada and Australia, 1973-1997 Street, Donna and Kimberly Shaughnessy From National to Global Accounting and Reporting Standards McKee, David, Don Garner and Yosra AbuAmara McKee A Statistical Model of International Accounting Harmonization pp. 1-29 Archer, Simon, Pascal, Delvaille and Stuart McLeay


 

SECTION X: OTHER NATIONAL AND REGIONAL ACCOUNTING STUDIES The Institutional Environment of Financial Reporting Regulation in ASEAN Countries Saudogaran, Sharokh and J. Diga Corporate Financial Reporting and Regulation in Japan Benston, George, Michael Bromwich, Robert Litan and Alfred Wagenhofer Accounting Theory in the Political Economy of China Shuie, Fujing and Joseph Hilmy Ownership Structure and Earnings Informativeness: Evidence from Korea Jung, Kooyul and Kwon Soo Young Accounting Developments in Pakistan Ashraf, Junaid and WaQar Ghani Accounting Theory in the Political Economy of China Shuie, Fujing and Joseph Hilmy Ownership Structure and Earnings Informativeness: Evidence from Korea Jung, Kooyul and Kwon Soo Young Corporate Ownership and Governments in Russia Krivogorsky, Victoria Accounting Developments in Pakistan


 

Jensen Comment
I have not yet read this book, although it is on order. The table of contents is certainly very comprehensive. When I get the book I anticipate some major strenghts (e.g., history) and some major weaknesses such as superficial coverage of XBRL and financial instruments accounting, particularly derivative financial instruments and hedging activities.


 

One problem with this book is bad timing. It has copyright date of 2009, but most of the modules were written much earlier before major happenings in accounting standard setting such as new standards and interpretations (domestic and international) on leases, revenue recognition, consolidations, fair value accounting, and hedging.

I think the book will also be weak in the following critical areas of my own free accounting theory online book ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm

 

Respectfully,
Bob Jensen
 

Research at the University of Rochester ---  https://urresearch.rochester.edu/home.action

Jensen Comment
Note that this site includes a long listing of research in accounting, finance, and economics, much of it based on positivism and financial markets.


2012 AAA Meeting Plenary Speakers and Response Panel Videos ---
http://commons.aaahq.org/hives/20a292d7e9/summary
I think you have to be a an AAA member and log into the AAA Commons to view these videos.
Bob Jensen is an obscure speaker following the handsome Rob Bloomfield
in the 1.02 Deirdre McCloskey Follow-up Panel—Video ---
http://commons.aaahq.org/posts/a0be33f7fc

My threads on Deidre McCloskey and my own talk are at
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/DeirdreMcCloskey/StatisticalSignificance01.htm

September 13, 2012 reply from Jagdish Gangolly

Bob,

Thanks you so much for posting this.

What a wonderful speaker Deidre McCloskey! Reminded me of JR Hicks who also was a stammerer. For an economist, I was amazed by her deep and remarkable understanding of statistics.

It was nice to hear about Gossett, perhaps the only human being who got along well with both Karl Pearson and R.A. Fisher, getting along with the latter itself a Herculean feat.

Gosset was helped in the mathematical derivation of small sample theory by Karl Pearson, he did not appreciate its importance, it was left to his nemesis R.A. Fisher. It is remarkable that he could work with these two giants who couldn't stand each other.

In later life Fisher and Gosset parted ways in that Fisher was a proponent of randomization of experiments while Gosset was a proponent of systematic planning of experiments and in fact proved decisively that balanced designs are more precise, powerful and efficient compared with Fisher's randomized experiments (see http://sites.roosevelt.edu/sziliak/files/2012/02/William-S-Gosset-and-Experimental-Statistics-Ziliak-JWE-2011.pdf )

I remember my father (who designed experiments in horticulture for a living) telling me the virtues of balanced designs at the same time my professors in school were extolling the virtues of randomisation.

In Gosset we also find seeds of Bayesian thinking in his writings.

While I have always had a great regard for Fisher (visit to the tree he planted at the Indian Statistical Institute in Calcutta was for me more of a pilgrimage), I think his influence on the development of statistics was less than ideal.

Regards,

Jagdish

Jagdish S. Gangolly
Department of Informatics College of Computing & Information
State University of New York at Albany
Harriman Campus, Building 7A, Suite 220
Albany, NY 12222 Phone: 518-956-8251, Fax: 518-956-8247

Hi Jagdish,

You're one of the few people who can really appreciate Deidre's scholarship in history, economics, and statistics. When she stumbled for what seemed like forever trying to get a word out, it helped afterwards when trying to remember that word.


Interestingly, two Nobel economists slugged out the very essence of theory some years back. Herb Simon insisted that the purpose of theory was to explain. Milton Friedman went off on the F-Twist tangent saying that it was enough if a theory merely predicted. I lost some (certainly not all) respect for Friedman over this. Deidre, who knew Milton, claims that deep in his heart, Milton did not ultimately believe this to the degree that it is attributed to him. Of course Deidre herself is not a great admirer of Neyman, Savage, or Fisher.

Friedman's essay "The Methodology of Positive Economics" (1953) provided the epistemological pattern for his own subsequent research and to a degree that of the Chicago School. There he argued that economics as science should be free of value judgments for it to be objective. Moreover, a useful economic theory should be judged not by its descriptive realism but by its simplicity and fruitfulness as an engine of prediction. That is, students should measure the accuracy of its predictions, rather than the 'soundness of its assumptions'. His argument was part of an ongoing debate among such statisticians as Jerzy Neyman, Leonard Savage, and Ronald Fisher.

.
"Milton Friedman's grand illusion," by Mark Buchanan, The Physics of Finance: A look at economics and finance through the lens of physics, September 16, 2011 ---
 http://physicsoffinance.blogspot.com/2011/09/milton-friedmans-grand-illusion.html

Many of us on the AECM are not great admirers of positive economics ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory02.htm#PostPositiveThinking

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan --- FactCheck.org ---
http://www.factcheck.org/

Then again, maybe we're all entitled to our own facts!

"The Power of Postpositive Thinking," Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed, August 2, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/08/02/mclemee

In particular, a dominant trend in critical theory was the rejection of the concept of objectivity as something that rests on a more or less naive epistemology: a simple belief that “facts” exist in some pristine state untouched by “theory.” To avoid being naive, the dutiful student learned to insist that, after all, all facts come to us embedded in various assumptions about the world. Hence (ta da!) “objectivity” exists only within an agreed-upon framework. It is relative to that framework. So it isn’t really objective....

What Mohanty found in his readings of the philosophy of science were much less naïve, and more robust, conceptions of objectivity than the straw men being thrashed by young Foucauldians at the time. We are not all prisoners of our paradigms. Some theoretical frameworks permit the discovery of new facts and the testing of interpretations or hypotheses. Others do not. In short, objectivity is a possibility and a goal — not just in the natural sciences, but for social inquiry and humanistic research as well.

Mohanty’s major theoretical statement on PPR arrived in 1997 with Literary Theory and the Claims of History: Postmodernism, Objectivity, Multicultural Politics (Cornell University Press). Because poststructurally inspired notions of cultural relativism are usually understood to be left wing in intention, there is often a tendency to assume that hard-edged notions of objectivity must have conservative implications. But Mohanty’s work went very much against the current.

“Since the lowest common principle of evaluation is all that I can invoke,” wrote Mohanty, complaining about certain strains of multicultural relativism, “I cannot — and consequently need not — think about how your space impinges on mine or how my history is defined together with yours. If that is the case, I may have started by declaring a pious political wish, but I end up denying that I need to take you seriously.”

PPR did not require throwing out the multicultural baby with the relativist bathwater, however. It meant developing ways to think about cultural identity and its discontents. A number of Mohanty’s students and scholarly colleagues have pursued the implications of postpositive identity politics. I’ve written elsewhere about Moya, an associate professor of English at Stanford University who has played an important role in developing PPR ideas about identity. And one academic critic has written an interesting review essay on early postpositive scholarship — highly recommended for anyone with a hankering for more cultural theory right about now.

Not everybody with a sophisticated epistemological critique manages to turn it into a functioning think tank — which is what started to happen when people in the postpositive circle started organizing the first Future of Minority Studies meetings at Cornell and Stanford in 2000. Others followed at the University of Michigan and at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Two years ago FMS applied for a grant from Mellon Foundation, receiving $350,000 to create a series of programs for graduate students and junior faculty from minority backgrounds.

The FMS Summer Institute, first held in 2005, is a two-week seminar with about a dozen participants — most of them ABD or just starting their first tenure-track jobs. The institute is followed by a much larger colloquium (the part I got to attend last week). As schools of thought in the humanities go, the postpositivists are remarkably light on the in-group jargon. Someone emerging from the Institute does not, it seems, need a translator to be understood by the uninitated. Nor was there a dominant theme at the various panels I heard.

Rather, the distinctive quality of FMS discourse seems to derive from a certain very clear, but largely unstated, assumption: It can be useful for scholars concerned with issues particular to one group to listen to the research being done on problems pertaining to other groups.

That sounds pretty simple. But there is rather more behind it than the belief that we should all just try to get along. Diversity (of background, of experience, of disciplinary formation) is not something that exists alongside or in addition to whatever happens in the “real world.” It is an inescapable and enabling condition of life in a more or less democratic society. And anyone who wants it to become more democratic, rather than less, has an interest in learning to understand both its inequities and how other people are affected by them.

A case in point might be the findings discussed by Claude Steele, a professor of psychology at Stanford, in a panel on Friday. His paper reviewed some of the research on “identity contingencies,” meaning “things you have to deal with because of your social identity.” One such contingency is what he called “stereotype threat” — a situation in which an individual becomes aware of the risk that what you are doing will confirm some established negative quality associated with your group. And in keeping with the threat, there is a tendency to become vigilant and defensive.

Steele did not just have a string of concepts to put up on PowerPoint. He had research findings on how stereotype threat can affect education. The most striking involved results from a puzzle-solving test given to groups of white and black students. When the test was described as a game, the scores for the black students were excellent — conspicuously higher, in fact, than the scores of white students. But in experiments where the very same puzzle was described as an intelligence test, the results were reversed. The black kids scores dropped by about half, while the graph for their white peers spiked.

The only variable? How the puzzle was framed — with distracting thoughts about African-American performance on IQ tests creating “stereotype threat” in a way that game-playing did not.

Steele also cited an experiment in which white engineering students were given a mathematics test. Just beforehand, some groups were told that Asian students usually did really well on this particular test. Others were simply handed the test without comment. Students who heard about their Asian competitors tended to get much lower scores than the control group.

Extrapolate from the social psychologist’s experiments with the effect of a few innocent-sounding remarks — and imagine the cumulative effect of more overt forms of domination. The picture is one of a culture that is profoundly wasteful, even destructive, of the best abilities of many of its members.

“It’s not easy for minority folks to discuss these things,” Satya Mohanty told me on the final day of the colloquium. “But I don’t think we can afford to wait until it becomes comfortable to start thinking about them. Our future depends on it. By ‘our’ I mean everyone’s future. How we enrich and deepen our democratic society and institutions depends on the answers we come up with now.”

Earlier this year, Oxford University Press published a major new work on postpositivist theory, Visible Identities: Race, Gender, and the Self,by Linda Martin Alcoff, a professor of philosophy at Syracuse University. Several essays from the book are available at the author’s Web site.


Special Notice:

Accounting Scholarship that Advances Professional Knowledge and Practice
Robert S. Kaplan
The Accounting Review, March 2011, Volume 86, Issue 2, 

Recent accounting scholarship has used statistical analysis on asset prices, financial reports and disclosures, laboratory experiments, and surveys of practice. The research has studied the interface among accounting information, capital markets, standard setters, and financial analysts and how managers make accounting choices. But as accounting scholars have focused on understanding how markets and users process accounting data, they have distanced themselves from the accounting process itself. Accounting scholarship has failed to address important measurement and valuation issues that have arisen in the past 40 years of practice. This gap is illustrated with missed opportunities in risk measurement and management and the estimation of the fair value of complex financial securities. This commentary encourages accounting scholars to devote more resources to obtaining a fundamental understanding of contemporary and future practice and how analytic tools and contemporary advances in accounting and related disciplines can be deployed to improve the professional practice of accounting. ©2010 AAA

 

The videos of the three plenary speakers at the 2010 Annual Meetings in San Francisco are now linked at
http://commons.aaahq.org/hives/531d5280c3/posts?postTypeName=session+video
I think the video is only available to AAA members.

Although all three speakers provided inspirational presentations, Steve Zeff and I both concluded that Bob Kaplan’s presentation was possibly the best that we had ever viewed among all past AAA plenary sessions. And we’ve seen a lot of plenary sessions in our long professional careers.

Now that Kaplan’s video is available I cannot overstress the importance that accounting educators and researchers watch the video of Bob Kaplan's August 4, 2010 plenary presentation
http://commons.aaahq.org/hives/531d5280c3/posts?postTypeName=session+video
Don’t miss the history map of Africa analogy to academic accounting research!!!!!

This dovetails with my Web document at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TheoryTAR.htm

Also see (slow loading)
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#WhatWentWrong

Trivia Questions
1.  Why did Bob wish he’d worn a different color suit?

2.  What does JAE stand for besides the Journal of Accounting and Economics?

Note that to watch the entire Kaplan video ---
http://commons.aaahq.org/hives/531d5280c3/posts?postTypeName=session+video
I think the video is only available to AAA members.

PS
I think Bob Kaplan overstates the value of the academic valuation models in leading accounting research journals, at least he overvalues their importance to our practicing profession.

September 9, 2011 reply from Paul Williams

Bob,
I have avoided chiming in on this thread; have gone down this same road and it is a cul-de-sac.  But I want to say that this line of argument is a clever one.  The answer to your rhetorical question is, No, they aren't more ethical than other "scientists."   As you tout the Kaplan speech I would add the caution that before he raised the issue of practice, he still had to praise the accomplishments of "accountics" research by claiming numerous times that this research has led us to greater understanding about analysts, markets, info. content, contracting, etc.  However, none of that is actually true.  As a panelist at the AAA meeting I juxtaposed Kaplan's praise for what accountics research has taught us with Paul Krugman's observations about Larry Summer's 1999 observation that GAAP is what makes US capital markets so stable and efficient.  Of course, as Krugman noted, none of that turned out to be true.  And if that isn't true, then Kaplan's assessment of accountics research isn't credible, either.  If we actually did understand what he claimed we now understand much better than we did before, the financial crisis of 2008 (still ongoing) would not have happened.  The title of my talk was (the panel was organized by Cheryl McWatters) "The Epistemology of Ignorance."  An obsessive preoccupation with method could be a choice not to understand certain things-- a choice to rigorously understand things as you already think they are or want so desperately to continue to believe for reasons other than scientific ones. 

Paul

 

Gaming for Tenure as an Accounting Professor ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TheoryTenure.htm
(with a reply about tenure publication point systems from Linda Kidwell)

"So you want to get a Ph.D.?" by David Wood, BYU ---
http://www.byuaccounting.net/mediawiki/index.php?title=So_you_want_to_get_a_Ph.D.%3F

Do You Want to Teach? ---
http://financialexecutives.blogspot.com/2009/05/do-you-want-to-teach.html

Jensen Comment
Here are some added positives and negatives to consider, especially if you are currently a practicing accountant considering becoming a professor.

Accountancy Doctoral Program Information from Jim Hasselback ---
http://www.jrhasselback.com/AtgDoctInfo.html 

Why must all accounting doctoral programs be social science (particularly econometrics) "accountics" doctoral programs?
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#DoctoralPrograms

Advice and Bibliography for Accounting Ph.D. Students and New Faculty by James Martin ---
http://maaw.info/AdviceforAccountingPhDstudentsMain.htm

"So you want to get a Ph.D.?" by David Wood, BYU ---
http://www.byuaccounting.net/mediawiki/index.php?title=So_you_want_to_get_a_Ph.D.%3F

Why accountancy doctoral programs are drying up and why accountancy is no longer
required for admission or graduation in an accountancy doctoral program ---

http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#DoctoralPrograms

Bob Jensen's threads on what went wrong with "accountics research" can be found at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#WhatWentWrong

 

What went wrong in accounting/accountics research?
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#WhatWentWrong

 

AN ANALYSIS OF THE EVOLUTION OF RESEARCH CONTRIBUTIONS BY THE ACCOUNTING REVIEW: 1926-2005 ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/395wpTAR/Web/TAR395wp.htm#_msocom_1

Systemic problems of accountancy (especially the vegetable nutrition paradox) that probably will never be solved ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#BadNews

 

AN ANALYSIS OF THE EVOLUTION OF RESEARCH CONTRIBUTIONS BY THE ACCOUNTING REVIEW: 1926-2005 ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/395wpTAR/Web/TAR395wp.htm#_msocom_1

Systemic problems of accountancy (especially the vegetable nutrition paradox) that probably will never be solved ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#BadNews

"The Accounting Doctoral Shortage: Time for a New Model,"
by Neal Mero, Jan R. Williams and George W. Krull, Jr. .
Issues in Accounting Education
24 (4)
http://aaapubs.aip.org/getabs/servlet/GetabsServlet?prog=normal&id=IAEXXX000024000004000427000001&idtype=cvips&gifs=Yes&ref=no

ABSTRACT:
The crisis in supply versus demand for doctorally qualified faculty members in accounting is well documented (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business [AACSB] 2003a, 2003b; Plumlee et al. 2005; Leslie 2008). Little progress has been made in addressing this serious challenge facing the accounting academic community and the accounting profession. Faculty time, institutional incentives, the doctoral model itself, and research diversity are noted as major challenges to making progress on this issue. The authors propose six recommendations, including a new, extramurally funded research program aimed at supporting doctoral students that functions similar to research programs supported by such organizations as the National Science Foundation and other science-based funding sources. The goal is to create capacity, improve structures for doctoral programs, and provide incentives to enhance doctoral enrollments. This should lead to an increased supply of graduates while also enhancing and supporting broad-based research outcomes across the accounting landscape, including auditing and tax. ©2009 American Accounting Association

Bob Jensen's threads on accountancy doctoral programs are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#DoctoralPrograms

Some Things You Might Want to Know About the Wolfram Alpha (WA) Search Engine:  The Good and The Evil
as Applied to Learning Curves (Cumulative Average vs. Incremental Unit)
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theorylearningcurves.htm


The quick and dirty answer to your question Marc is that the present dominance of accountics scientists behind a wall of silence on our Commons is just not sustainable. They cannot continue to monopolize AACSB accounting doctoral programs by limiting supply so drastically in the face of rising demand for accounting faculty ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#DoctoralPrograms 

They cannot continue to monopolize the selection of editors of their favored journals (especially TAR and AH) in the face of increasing democracy in the AAA.

The Emperor cannot continue to parade without any clothes in the presence of increasing criticism from AAA Presidents, including criticisms raised by President Waymire ( who's an accountics scientist )  in the 2011 Annual Meetings ---
Watch the Video:  http://commons.aaahq.org/posts/b60c7234c6 

What we cannot do is expect change to happen overnight. For the past four decades our doctoral programs have cranked out virtually nothing but accountics scientists. Something similar happened in the Pentagon in the 1920s when West Point and Naval Academy graduates dominated the higher command until the 1940s. We began to see the value of air power, but it took decades to split the Air Force out from under the Army and to create an Air Force Academy. More importantly Pentagon budgets began to shift more and more to air power in both the Air Force and the Naval Air Force.

It's been a long and frustrating fight in the AAA dating back to Bob Anthony when it was beginning to dawn on genuine accountants that we had created an accountics scientist monster.

I don't know if you were present when Bob Anthony gave his 1989 Outstanding Educator Award Address to the American Accounting Association. It was one of the harshest indictments I've ever heard concerning the sad state of academic research in serving the accounting profession. Bob never held back on his punches.

We built the most formidable military in the world by adapting to changes and innovations. Eventually the Luddite accountics scientists will own up to the fact they never did become real scientists and that their research methods and models are just too limited and out of date. His colleague at Harvard, Bob Kaplan, now carries on the laments of Bob Anthony.

Now that Kaplan’s video is available I cannot overstress the importance that accounting educators and researchers watch the video of Bob Kaplan's August 4, 2010 plenary presentation
http://commons.aaahq.org/hives/531d5280c3/posts?postTypeName=session+video 
Don’t miss the history map of Africa analogy to academic accounting research!!!!!

The accountics scientist monopoly of our doctoral programs is just not a sustainable model.  But don't expect miracles overnight. For 40 years our accounting doctoral graduates have never learned any research methods other than those analytical and inference models favored by accountics scientists.

Respectfully,
Bob Jensen

 


On September 13, 2010 The Wall Street Journal issued rankings of the “25 Best” college accounting education programs.

In May 2010 Bloomberg/Business Week issued its rankings of the “111 Best” college accounting education programs.

In an IAE paper, Wood et al. issues its rankings of the best college accounting research programs.
Issues in Accounting Education, November 2010, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp. 613-xv
Also see http://www.byuaccounting.net/rankings/univrank/rankings.php

My tidbit comparing the rankings of these great accounting education programs is at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TheoryRankings.htm


Although I will not dwell on details here, practitioners are generally interested in clever discoveries of how to make computer software, XBRL, Google Wave, cloud computing, computer gadgets, cloud computing, pattern recognition, data visualization, and many other technology innovations relative to the practice of accountancy. For example, I've attempted (thus far unsuccessfully) to discover useful ways of visualizing multi-dimensional accounting variables (including Chernoff faces) ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/352wpvisual/000datavisualization.htm
Alas, I'm a failure, along with most academic accounting researchers, as an applied researcher thus far in life. My leading journal publications, like other leading accounting research publications, have mostly been irrelevant "accountics" contributions ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/resume.htm#Published

Not everything that can be counted, counts. And not everything that counts can be counted.
Albert Einstein

For a long time, elite accounting researchers could find no “empirical evidence” of widespread earnings management. All they had to do was look up from the computers where their heads were buried.
Bob Jensen --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/395wpTAR/Web/TAR395wp.htm

“Research should be problem driven rather than methodologically driven," said Lisa Garcia Bedolla, a member of the task force who teaches at the University of California at Berkeley.
Scott Jascik --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/09/04/polisci  

"I understand your point, Jim." He could not identify one issue that (accountics) researchers had been able to "put to bed" after all that effort.
P. Kothari, one of the Editors of JAE and a full professor at MIT, as quoted by Jim Peters below.

Do we forecast? You bet. Do we have confidence in our forecasts? Never! Confidence about a non-linear chaotic system can only come in degrees, and even those degrees of confidence are guesses. Not all hope is lost. There are times when it seems our ability to predict is better than others. Thus we need to take advantage of it if we see it. Trading ranges, pivot points, support and resistance, and the like can help, and do help the trader.
Michael Covel, Trading Black Swans, September 2009 --- http://www.michaelcovel.com/pdfs/swan.pdf

The second is the comment that Joan Robinson made about American Keynsians: that their theories were so flimsy that they had to put math into them. In accounting academia, the shortest path to respectability seems to be to use math (and statistics), whether meaningful or not.
Professor Jagdish Gangolly, SUNY Albany

American Economist and Nobel Prize Winning Paul Samuelson died on December 13, 2009 ---
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Samuelson
Among many other things, his textbook was perhaps the all-time best selling economics textbook. Students in my generation were weaned on Samuelson who, in my viewpoint, was a fence sitter, albeit a scholarly fence sitter, with respect to economic theory. He was a mathematician with hundreds of scholarly papers in his craft.

Stanislaw Ulam once challenged Samuelson to name one theory in all of the social sciences which is both true and nontrivial. Several years later, Samuelson responded with David Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage: That it is logically true need not be argued before a mathematician; that is not trivial is attested by the thousands of important and intelligent men who have never been able to grasp the doctrine for themselves or to believe it after it was explained to them.

Probably be an accountant. I like to figure out stuff. In accounting, if you miss one number you get the whole thing wrong. You have to be perfect --- I'm a perfectionist.
Giovani Soto (catcher for the Chicago Cubs when asked what he'd like to be if he wasn't in professional baseball), as quoted in an interview with Mary Burns in Sports Illustrated, June 2008
Jensen Comment
If Soto only knew that accountants are second only to economists in terms of inaccuracies. When accountants total up the numbers on a balance sheet the total is always accurate, but the numbers being added up can be off by 1000% or more. Accuracy varies of course. Cash counts are highly accurate. Fixed assets, net of depreciation, are make-pretend within limits. Intangible asset valuations are about as accurate as ground eyesight measurements of floating cloud dimensions on a windy day. Accountants make highly inaccurate estimates of assets, liabilities, and equities. Then accountants change hats and chairs and add these estimates up very accurately and pretend that the total must mean something --- but accountants aren't sure what.

If Soto wants accuracy perhaps he should become a baseball statistician collecting up subjective estimates of the umpires. In the business world, accountants are the statisticians and the umpires. Therein lies the problem. An umpire decides what's a ball/strike, hit/foul, etc. and then leaves it up to baseball statisticians to book the numbers. In the world of business, accountants decide what are current versus deferred revenues, current versus capitalized costs, and additionally make highly subjective estimates about values of such things as forward contracts and interest rate swaps. After making their inaccurate estimates they then put on another hat, change chairs, and record their own estimates to the nearest penny. They're the business world's umpires and statisticians who simply change hats and chairs and wait for the investors to file lawsuits against them.

Humor about understanding research literature --- http://maaw.info/ArticleSummaries/ArtSumIngram87.htm
Thank you Rob Ingram and James Martin

Yale Rolls Out 10 New Courses – All Free --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2011/04/yale_rolls_out_10_new_open_courses.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

Walter Kaufmann’s Lectures on Nietzsche, Kierkegaard and Sartre (1960) --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2011/04/walter_kaufmanns_lectures.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

Bob Jensen's threads on free courses and/or course materials from prestigious universities ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

 

 

Brief Very Long Summary of Accounting Theory

Bob Jensen at Trinity University

Warning 1:  Many of the links were broken when the FASB changed all of its links.  If a link to a FASB site does not work , Go to the new FASB link and search for the document.  The FASB home page is at http://www.fasb.org/ 

 

Warning 2:  The document below has not been updated for the FASB's Codification Database. Although the database is off to a great (albeit dumb, dumb, dumb) start, there is much information in this document and in prior FASB hard copy standards and in the FASB standards that cannot be found in the Codification Database. You can read the following at http://asc.fasb.org/asccontent&trid=2273304&nav_type=left_nav

Welcome to the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Accounting Standards Codification™ (Codification).

The Codification is the result of a major four-year project involving over 200 people from multiple entities. The Codification structure is significantly different from the structure of existing accounting standards. The Notice to Constituents provides information you should read to obtain a good understanding of the Codification history, content, structure, and future consequences.

ASC = Accounting Standard Codification of the FASB

January 8, 2013 message from Zane Swanson

Another faculty person created a video (link follows)
http://www.screencast.com/t/K8gruSHTv

which introduces the ASC.  This video has potential value at the beginning of the semester to acquaint students with the ASC.  I am thinking about posting the clip to AAA commons.  But, where should it be posted and does this type of thing get posted in multiple interest group areas?

 Any thoughts / suggestions?

Zane Swanson
www.askaref.com a handheld device source of ASC information

Jensen Comment
A disappointment for colleges and students is that access to the Codification database is not free. The FASB does offer deeply discounted prices to colleges but not to individual teachers or students.

There are other access routes that are not free such as the PwC Comperio ---
http://www.pwc.com/gx/en/comperio/index.jhtml

Hi Zane,
 
This is a great video helper for learning how to use the FASB.s Codification database.
 
An enormous disappointment to me is how the Codification omits many, many illustrations in the pre-codification pronouncements that are still available electronically as PDF files. In particular, the best way to learn a very complicated standard like FAS 133 is to study the illustrations in the original FAS 133, FAS 138, etc.
 
The FASB paid a fortune for experts to develop the illustrations in the pre-codification  pronouncements. It's sad that those investments are wasted in the Codification database.
 
What is even worse is that accounting teachers are forgetting to go to the pre-codification pronouncements for wonderful illustrations to use in class and illustrations for CPA exam preparation ---
http://www.fasb.org/jsp/FASB/Page/PreCodSectionPage&cid=1218220137031
 
Sadly the FASB no longer seems to invest as much in illustrations for new pronouncements in the Codification database.

Bob Jensen

 

Examples of great FAS 133 pre-codification illustrations are as follows:

              
[   ] 133ex01a.xls                     12-Jun-2008 03:50  345K  
[   ] 133ex02.doc                      17-Feb-2004 06:00  2.1M  
[   ] 133ex02a.xls                     12-Jun-2008 03:48  279K  
[   ] 133ex03a.xls                     04-Apr-2001 06:45   92K  
[   ] 133ex04a.xls                     12-Jun-2008 03:50  345K  
[TXT] 133ex05.htm                      04-Apr-2001 06:45  371K  
[   ] 133ex05a.xls                     12-Jun-2008 03:49  1.5M  
[TXT] 133ex05aSupplement.htm           26-Mar-2005 13:59   57K  
[   ] 133ex05aSupplement.xls           26-Mar-2005 13:50   32K  
[TXT] 133ex05d.htm                     26-Mar-2005 13:59   56K  
[   ] 133ex06a.xls                     29-Sep-2001 11:43  123K  
[   ] 133ex07a.xls                     08-Mar-2004 16:26  1.2M  
[   ] 133ex08a.xls                     29-Sep-2001 11:43  216K  
[   ] 133ex09a.xls                     12-Jun-2008 03:49   99K  
[   ] 133ex10.doc                      17-Feb-2004 16:37   80K  
[   ] 133ex10a.xls 
[TXT] 133summ.htm                      13-Feb-2004 10:50  121K  
[TXT] 138EXAMPLES.htm                  30-Apr-2004 08:39  355K  
[TXT] 138bench.htm                     07-Dec-2007 05:37  139K  
[   ] 138ex01a.xls                     09-Mar-2001 13:20  1.7M  
[TXT] 138exh01.htm                     09-Mar-2001 13:20   31K  
[TXT] 138exh02.htm                     09-Mar-2001 13:20   65K  
[TXT] 138exh03.htm                     09-Mar-2001 13:20   42K  
[TXT] 138exh04.htm                     09-Mar-2001 13:20  108K  
[TXT] 138exh04a.htm                    09-Mar-2001 13:20  8.2K  
[   ] 138intro.doc                     09-Mar-2001 13:20   95K  
[TXT] 138intro.htm                     09-M

Others --- http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/

 

 

Accounting, Fraud, and XBRL News --- #News

Daily News Sites for Accountancy, Tax, Fraud, IFRS, XBRL, Accounting History, and More ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/AccountingNews.htm

FASB's Accounting Standards Codification --- http://asc.fasb.org/home

Accounting for Derivative Financial Instruments and Hedging Activities
Bob Jensen's free tutorials and videos for FAS 133 and IAS 39 are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/caseans/000index.htm

Teaching Cases:  Hedge Accounting Scenario 1 versus Scenario 2
Two Teaching Cases Involving Southwest Airlines, Hedging, and Hedge Accounting Controversies ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/caseans/SouthwestAirlinesQuestions.htm

A nice timeline on the development of U.S. standards and the evolution of thinking about the income statement versus the balance sheet is provided at:
"The Evolution of U.S. GAAP: The Political Forces Behind Professional Standards (1930-1973)," by Stephen A. Zeff, CPA Journal, January 2005 --- http://www.nysscpa.org/cpajournal/2005/105/infocus/p18.htm
Part II covering years 1974-2003 published in February 2005 --- http://www.nysscpa.org/cpajournal/2005/205/index.htm 

**************************

“Accounting for Business Firms versus Accounting for Vegetables” ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#BadNews 

Take the Enron Quiz ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnronQuiz.htm

Where I Made My Consulting Money and How

Accounting History in a Nutshell

Re-branding the CPA Profession

History of Accountics

Accounting Theory Courses

Thoughts on Bill Paton and Some Other Historical Writers in Accountancy

"Why Accounting Matters," by Edith Orenstein

Accounting for the Shadow Economy

Behavioral and Cultural Economics and Finance

Media Reporting Controversies

Efficient Markets (EMH) versus Inefficient Markets
(including Black Swans and Fat Tails)

Islamic and Social Responsibility Accounting

XBRL:  The Next Big Thing

Key Differences Between International (IFRS) and U.S. GAAP (SFAS)

Accounting Research Versus the Accountancy Profession
Some ideas for applied research

Learning at Research Schools Versus "Teaching Schools" Versus "Happiness"
With a Side Track into Substance Abuse

Why must all accounting doctoral programs be social
science (particularly econometrics) "accountics" doctoral programs?

Why accountancy doctoral programs are drying up and
why accountancy is no longer required for admission or
graduation in an accountancy doctoral program
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#DoctoralPrograms
 

I think leading academic researchers avoid applied research for the profession because making seminal and creative discoveries that practitioners have not already discovered is enormously difficult. Accounting academe is threatened by the twin dangers of fossilization and scholasticism (of three types: tedium, high tech, and radical chic)
From http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/395wpTAR/Web/TAR395wp.htm
 

“Knowledge and competence increasingly developed out of the internal dynamics of esoteric disciplines rather than within the context of shared perceptions of public needs,” writes Bender. “This is not to say that professionalized disciplines or the modern service professions that imitated them became socially irresponsible. But their contributions to society began to flow from their own self-definitions rather than from a reciprocal engagement with general public discourse.”

 

Now, there is a definite note of sadness in Bender’s narrative – as there always tends to be in accounts of the shift from Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft. Yet it is also clear that the transformation from civic to disciplinary professionalism was necessary.

 

“The new disciplines offered relatively precise subject matter and procedures,” Bender concedes, “at a time when both were greatly confused. The new professionalism also promised guarantees of competence — certification — in an era when criteria of intellectual authority were vague and professional performance was unreliable.”

But in the epilogue to Intellect and Public Life, Bender suggests that the process eventually went too far. “The risk now is precisely the opposite,” he writes. “Academe is threatened by the twin dangers of fossilization and scholasticism (of three types: tedium, high tech, and radical chic). The agenda for the next decade, at least as I see it, ought to be the opening up of the disciplines, the ventilating of professional communities that have come to share too much and that have become too self-referential.”

Accountics is the mathematical science of values.
Charles Sprague [1887] as quoted by McMillan [1998, p. 1]
[NH1]

What went wrong in accounting/accountics research? 
How did academic accounting research become a pseudo science?
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#WhatWentWrong

GMAT: Paying for Points

Accounting Journal Lack of Interest in Publishing Replications

Rankings of Academic Accounting Research Journals and Schools

Role of Accounting Standards in Efficient Equity Markets

Controversies in Setting Accounting Standards

Popular IFRS, IAS, and Other IASB Learning Resources:

Bright Lines Versus Principles-Based Rules

Comparisons of IFRS with Domestic Standards of Many Nations
http://www.iasplus.com/country/compare.htm

Should "principles-based" standards replace more detailed requirements for complex
financial contracts such as structured financing contracts and financial instruments derivatives contracts?

Why Let the I.R.S. See What the S.E.C. Doesn't?

Radical Changes in Financial Reporting

The Controversy Between OCI versus Current Earnings

Accrual Accounting and Estimation 

Controversy Over  the SEC's Rule 144a

Cookie Jar Accounting and FAS 106

Why do sales discounts have such high annual percentage rates?

FIN 48 Liability if Transaction Is Later Disallowed by the IRS

Controversy Over FAS 2 versus IAS 38 on Research and Development (R&D)

Management ((Managerial) and Cost Accounting

Creative Earnings Management, Agency Theory, and Accounting Manipulations to Cook the Books 

Goodwill Impairment Issues 

Purchase Versus Pooling: The Never Ending Debate

Minority Interests:  Lambs being led to slaughter?

Off-Balance Sheet Financing (OBSF)

Insurance:  A Scheme for Hiding Debt That Won't Go Away

How do we account for lifetime warranties?

Disclosure provisions aimed at financing receivables
and Other Dislcosure Issues

CDOs: A Securitization Scheme for Hiding Debt That Won't Go Away

Pensions and Post-retirement benefits:  Schemes for Hiding Deb

Leases:  A  Scheme for Hiding Debt That Won't Go Away 

Accounting for Executory Contracts Such as
Purchase/Sale Commitments and Loan Commitments

Debt Versus Equity (including shareholder earn-out contracts)

Synthetic Assets and Liabilities Accounting  

Time versus Money

Intangibles and Contingencies:   Theory Disputes Focus Mainly on the Tip of the Iceberg

Intangibles:  An Accounting Paradox

Intangibles:  Selected References On Accounting for Intangibles

EBR:  Enhanced Business Reporting (including non-financial information)

The Controversy Over Revenue Reporting and HFV 
--- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/eitf01.htm

The Controversy Over Employee Stock Options as Compenation  

Accounting for Options to Buy Real Estate

The Controversy over Accounting for Securitizations and Loan Guarantees  

The Controversy Over Pro Forma Reporting

Triple-Bottom (Social, Environmental) Reporting  

The Sad State of Government (Governmental) Accounting and Accountability

The Cost Conundrum:  What a Texas town can teach us about health care

Which is More Value-Relevant: Earnings or Cash Flows?

LIFO Sucks Teaching Case on LIFO Layers in Years of Rising Prices

The Controversy Over Fair Value (Mark-to-Market) Financial Reporting

Underlying Bases of Balance Sheet Valuation

Online Resources for Business Valuations
See http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/roi.htm

Fade, Gain, and Cost Shifting Analysis  in gross profit analysis in construction accounting

Critical Thinking:  Why's It So Hard to Teach

Understanding the Issues 

Issues of Auditor Professionalism and Independence 
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/fraud001.htm#Professionalism

Quality of Earnings, Restatements, and Core Earnings

Sale-Leaseback Accounting Controversies
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/eitf01.htm#SaleLeasback

Economic Theory of Accounting (including Game Theory)

Socionomics Theory of Finance and Fraud

Facts Based on Assumptions:  The Power of Postpositive Thinking

Critical Postmodern Theory --- http://www.uta.edu/huma/illuminations/

Mike Kearl's great social theory site

What's Right and What's Wrong With SPEs, SPVs, and VIEs --- 
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/speOverview.htm

Peter, Paul, and Barney: An Essay on 2008 U.S. Government Bailouts of Private Companies ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on GAAP comparisons (with particular stress upon derivative financial
instruments accounting rules) are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/caseans/canada.htm
The above site also links to more general GAAP comparison guides between nations.

Implications of Bad Auditing on Capital Markets
and Client's Cost of Captial
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#IncompetentAudits

Bob Jensen's threads on corporate governance are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/fraud.htm#Governance

Accounting Theory Courses

Modern Science and Ancient Wisdom  --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#AncientWisdom

"A Wisdom 101 Course!" February 15, 2010 ---
http://www.simoleonsense.com/a-wisdom-101-course/

"Overview of Prior Research on Wisdom," Simoleon Sense, February 15, 2010 ---
http://www.simoleonsense.com/overview-of-prior-research-on-wisdom/

"An Overview Of The Psychology Of Wisdom," Simoleon Sense, February 15, 2010 ---
http://www.simoleonsense.com/an-overview-of-the-psychology-of-wisdom/

"Why Bayesian Rationality Is Empty, Perfect Rationality Doesn’t Exist, Ecological Rationality Is Too Simple, and Critical Rationality Does the Job,"
Simoleon Sense, February 15, 2010 --- Click Here
http://www.simoleonsense.com/why-bayesian-rationality-is-empty-perfect-rationality-doesn%e2%80%99t-exist-ecological-rationality-is-too-simple-and-critical-rationality-does-the-job/

Easier than Bayes
"Chances Are," by Steven Strogatz, The New York Times, April 25, 2010 ---
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/25/chances-are/

Great Minds in Management:  The Process of Theory Development --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/GreatMinds.htm

Great Minds in Sociology ---
http://www.sociosite.net/topics/sociologists.php
Also see Also see http://www.sociologyprofessor.com/ 

A Special Tribute to My Open Sharing Friend Will Yancey ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Yancey.htm

Giving Stuff Away Free on the Internet ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ListservRoles.htm#Free 

A Course in Game Theory ---
http://www.simoleonsense.com/a-course-in-game-theory-martin-j-osborne/

"Saturn (Now Defunct Automobile): A Wealth of Lessons from Failure," University of Pennsylvania's Knowledge@Wharton, October 28, 2009 --- http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=2366

"Cornell Theory Center Aids Social Science Researchers," PR Web, June 19, 2006 --- http://www.prweb.com/releases/2006/6/prweb400160.htm

"The Ph.D. Problem On the professionalization of faculty life, doctoral training, and the academy’s self-renewal," by Louis Menand, Harvard Magazine, November/December 2009 ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#DoctoralProgramChange

How Do Scholars Search? --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Searchh.htm#Scholars

Some of the many, many lawsuits settled by auditing firms can be found at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud001.htm

Higher Education Controversies ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm

Wonderful Video on the History and Controversies of Logical Positivism (Vienna Circle) and Philosophy of Science
Pragmatism under William James --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_James
Metaphysics --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphysics
Logical Positivism under Karl Popper --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Popper
Logical Positivism under
Sir Alfred Jules (A.J.) Ayer --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Ayer

The philosophy of leadership, management, and theory development --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory/00overview/GreatMinds.htm

574 Shields Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TheoryTAR.htm

 

574 Shields Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave  --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TheoryTAR.htm
by Bob Jensen

Table of Contents


Steven J. Kachelmeier's July 2011 Editorial as Departing Senior Editor of The Accounting Review (TAR)

"Introduction to a Forum on Internal Control Reporting and Corporate Debt," by Steven J. Kachelmeier, The Accounting Review, Vol. 86, No. 4, July 2011 pp. 1129–113 (not free online) ---
http://aaapubs.aip.org/getpdf/servlet/GetPDFServlet?filetype=pdf&id=ACRVAS000086000004001129000001&idtype=cvips&prog=normal

One of the more surprising things I have learned from my experience as Senior Editor of The Accounting Review is just how often a ‘‘hot topic’’ generates multiple submissions that pursue similar research objectives. Though one might view such situations as enhancing the credibility of research findings through the independent efforts of multiple research teams, they often result in unfavorable reactions from reviewers who question the incremental contribution of a subsequent study that does not materially advance the findings already documented in a previous study, even if the two (or more) efforts were initiated independently and pursued more or less concurrently. I understand the reason for a high incremental contribution standard in a top-tier journal that faces capacity constraints and deals with about 500 new submissions per year. Nevertheless, I must admit that I sometimes feel bad writing a rejection letter on a good study, just because some other research team beat the authors to press with similar conclusions documented a few months earlier. Research, it seems, operates in a highly competitive arena.

Fortunately, from time to time, we receive related but still distinct submissions that, in combination, capture synergies (and reviewer support) by viewing a broad research question from different perspectives. The two articles comprising this issue’s forum are a classic case in point. Though both studies reach the same basic conclusion that material weaknesses in internal controls over financial reporting result in negative repercussions for the cost of debt financing, Dhaliwal et al. (2011) do so by examining the public market for corporate debt instruments, whereas Kim et al. (2011) examine private debt contracting with financial institutions. These different perspectives enable the two research teams to pursue different secondary analyses, such as Dhaliwal et al.’s examination of the sensitivity of the reported findings to bank monitoring and Kim et al.’s examination of debt covenants.

Both studies also overlap with yet a third recent effort in this arena, recently published in the Journal of Accounting Research by Costello and Wittenberg-Moerman (2011). Although the overall ‘‘punch line’’ is similar in all three studies (material internal control weaknesses result in a higher cost of debt), I am intrigued by a ‘‘mini-debate’’ of sorts on the different conclusions reache  by Costello and Wittenberg-Moerman (2011) and by Kim et al. (2011) for the effect of material weaknesses on debt covenants. Specifically, Costello and Wittenberg-Moerman (2011, 116) find that ‘‘serious, fraud-related weaknesses result in a significant decrease in financial covenants,’’ presumably because banks substitute more direct protections in such instances, whereas Kim et al. Published Online: July 2011 (2011) assert from their cross-sectional design that company-level material weaknesses are associated with more financial covenants in debt contracting.

In reconciling these conflicting findings, Costello and Wittenberg-Moerman (2011, 116) attribute the Kim et al. (2011) result to underlying ‘‘differences in more fundamental firm characteristics, such as riskiness and information opacity,’’ given that, cross-sectionally, material weakness firms have a greater number of financial covenants than do non-material weakness firms even before the disclosure of the material weakness in internal controls. Kim et al. (2011) counter that they control for risk and opacity characteristics, and that advance leakage of internal control problems could still result in a debt covenant effect due to internal controls rather than underlying firm characteristics. Kim et al. (2011) also report from a supplemental change analysis that, comparing the pre- and post-SOX 404 periods, the number of debt covenants falls for companies both with and without material weaknesses in internal controls, raising the question of whether the

Costello and Wittenberg-Moerman (2011) finding reflects a reaction to the disclosures or simply a more general trend of a declining number of debt covenants affecting all firms around that time period. I urge readers to take a look at both articles, along with Dhaliwal et al. (2011), and draw their own conclusions. Indeed, I believe that these sorts . . .

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Without admitting to it, I think Steve has been embarrassed, along with many other accountics researchers, about the virtual absence of validation and replication of accounting science (accountics) research studies over the past five decades. For the most part, accountics articles are either ignored or accepted as truth without validation. Behavioral and capital markets empirical studies are rarely (ever?) replicated. Analytical studies make tremendous leaps of faith in terms of underlying assumptions that are rarely challenged (such as the assumption of equations depicting utility functions of corporations).

Accounting science thereby has become a pseudo science where highly paid accountics professor referees are protecting each others' butts ---
"574 Shields Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave" --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TheoryTAR.htm
The above link contains Steve's rejoinders on the replication debate.

In the above editorial he's telling us that there is a middle ground for validation of accountics studies. When researchers independently come to similar conclusions using different data sets and different quantitative analyses they are in a sense validating each others' work without truly replicating each others' work.

I agree with Steve on this, but I would also argue that these types of "validation" is too little to late relative to genuine science where replication and true validation are essential to the very definition of science. The types independent but related research that Steve is discussing above is too infrequent and haphazard to fall into the realm of validation and replication.

When's the last time you witnesses a TAR author criticizing the research of another TAR author (TAR does not publish critical commentaries)?
Are TAR articles really all that above criticism?
Even though I admire Steve's scholarship, dedication, and sacrifice, I hope future TAR editors will work harder at turning accountics research into real science!

What Went Wrong With Accountics Research? --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#WhatWentWrong

"574 Shields Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave" --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TheoryTAR.htm


"Is Modern Portfolio Theory Dead? Come On," by Paul Pfleiderer, TechCrunch, August 11, 2012 ---
http://techcrunch.com/2012/08/11/is-modern-portfolio-theory-dead-come-on/

A few weeks ago, TechCrunch published a piece arguing software is better at investing than 99% of human investment advisors. That post, titled Thankfully, Software Is Eating The Personal Investing World, pointed out the advantages of engineering-driven software solutions versus emotionally driven human judgment. Perhaps not surprisingly, some commenters (including some financial advisors) seized the moment to call into question one of the foundations of software-based investing, Modern Portfolio Theory.

Given the doubts raised by a small but vocal chorus, it’s worth spending some time to ask if we need a new investing paradigm and if so, what it should be. Answering that question helps show why MPT still is the best investment methodology out there; it enables the automated, low-cost investment management offered by a new wave of Internet startups including Wealthfront (which I advise), Personal Capital, Future Advisor and SigFig.

The basic questions being raised about MPT run something like this:

Let’s begin by briefly laying out the key insights of MPT.

MPT is based in part on the assumption that most investors don’t like risk and need to be compensated for bearing it. That compensation comes in the form of higher average returns. Historical data strongly supports this assumption. For example, from 1926 to 2011 the average (geometric) return on U.S. Treasury Bills was 3.6%. Over the same period the average return on large company stocks was 9.8%; that on small company stocks was 11.2% ( See 2012 Ibbotson Stocks, Bonds, Bills and Inflation (SBBI) Valuation Yearbook, Morningstar, Inc., page 23. ).  Stocks, of course, are much riskier than Treasuries, so we expect them to have higher average returns — and they do.

One of MPT’s key insights is that while investors need to be compensated to bear risk, not all risks are rewarded. The market does not reward risks that can be “diversified away” by holding a bundle of investments, instead of a single investment. By recognizing that not all risks are rewarded, MPT helped establish the idea that a diversified portfolio can help investors earn a higher return for the same amount of risk.

To understand which risks can be diversified away, and why, consider Zynga. Zynga hit $14.69 in March and has since dropped to less than $2 per share. Based on what’s happened over the past few months, the major risks associated with Zynga’s stock are things such as delays in new game development, the fickle taste of consumers and changes on Facebook that affect users’ engagement with Zynga’s games.

For company insiders, who have much of their wealth tied up in the company, Zynga is clearly a risky investment. Although those insiders are exposed to huge risks, they aren’t the investors who determine the “risk premium” for Zynga. (A stock’s risk premium is the extra return the stock is expected to earn that compensates for the stock’s risk.)

Rather, institutional funds and other large investors establish the risk premium by deciding what price they’re willing to pay to hold Zynga in their diversified portfolios. If a Zynga game is delayed, and Zynga’s stock price drops, that decline has a miniscule effect on a diversified shareholder’s portfolio returns. Because of this, the market does not price in that particular risk. Even the overall turbulence in many Internet stocks won’t be problematic for investors who are well diversified in their portfolios.

Modern Portfolio Theory focuses on constructing portfolios that avoid exposing the investor to those kinds of unrewarded risks. The main lesson is that investors should choose portfolios that lie on the Efficient Frontier, the mathematically defined curve that describes the relationship between risk and reward. To be on the frontier, a portfolio must provide the highest expected return (largest reward) among all portfolios having the same level of risk. The Internet startups construct well-diversified portfolios designed to be efficient with the right combination of risk and return for their clients.

Now let’s ask if anything in the past five years casts doubt on these basic tenets of Modern Portfolio Theory. The answer is clearly, “No.” First and foremost, nothing has changed the fact that there are many unrewarded risks, and that investors should avoid these risks. The major risks of Zynga stock remain diversifiable risks, and unless you’re willing to trade illegally on inside information about, say, upcoming changes to Facebook’s gaming policies, you should avoid holding a concentrated position in Zynga.

The efficient frontier is still the desirable place to be, and it makes no sense to follow a policy that puts you in a position well below that frontier.

Most of the people who say that “diversification failed” in the financial crisis have in mind not the diversification gains associated with avoiding concentrated investments in companies like Zynga, but the diversification gains that come from investing across many different asset classes, such as domestic stocks, foreign stocks, real estate and bonds. Those critics aren’t challenging the idea of diversification in general – probably because such an effort would be nonsensical.

True, diversification across asset classes didn’t shelter investors from 2008’s turmoil. In that year, the S&P 500 index fell 37%, the MSCI EAFE index (the index of developed markets outside North America) fell by 43%, the MSCI Emerging Market index fell by 53%, the Dow Jones Commodities Index fell by 35%, and the Lehman High Yield Bond Index fell by 26%. The historical record shows that in times of economic distress, asset class returns tend to move in the same direction and be more highly correlated. These increased correlations are no doubt due to the increased importance of macro factors driving corporate cash flows. The increased correlations limit, but do not eliminate, diversification’s value. It would be foolish to conclude from this that you should be undiversified. If a seat belt doesn’t provide perfect protection, it still makes sense to wear one. Statistics show it’s better to wear a seatbelt than to not wear one.  Similarly, statistics show diversification reduces risk, and that you are better off diversifying than not.

Timing the market

The obvious question to ask anyone who insists diversification across asset classes is not effective is: What is the alternative? Some say “Time the market.” Make sure you hold an asset class when it is earning good returns, but sell as soon as things are about to go south. Even better, take short positions when the outlook is negative. With a trustworthy crystal ball, this is a winning strategy. The potential gains are huge. If you had perfect foresight and could time the S&P 500 on a daily basis, you could have turned $1,000 on Jan. 1, 2000, into $120,975,000 on Dec. 31, 2009, just by going in and out of the market. If you could also short the market when appropriate, the gains would have been even more spectacular!

Sometimes, it seems someone may have a fairly reliable crystal ball. Consider John Paulson, who in 2007 and 2008 seemed so prescient in profiting from the subprime market’s collapse. It appears, however, that Mr. Paulson’s crystal ball became less reliable after his stunning success in 2007. His Advantage Plus fund experienced more than a 50% loss in 2011. Separating luck from skill is often difficult.

Some people try to come up with a way to time the market based on historical data. In fact a large number of strategies will work well “in the back test.” The question is whether any system is reliable enough to use for future investing.

There are at least three reasons to be cautious about substituting a timing system for diversification.

Black Swans

What about those Black Swans? Doesn’t MPT ignore the possibility that we can be surprised by the unexpected? Isn’t it impossible to measure risk when there are unknown unknowns?

Most people recognize that financial markets are not like simple games of chance where risk can be quantified precisely. As we’ve seen (e.g., the “Black Monday” stock market crash of 1987 and the “flash crash” of 2010), the markets can produce extreme events that hardly anyone contemplated as a possibility. As opposed to poker, where we always draw from the same 52-card deck, in financial markets, asset returns are drawn from changing distributions as the world economy and financial relationships change.

Some Black Swan events turned out to have limited effects on investors over the long term. Although the market dropped precipitously in October 1987, it was close to fully recovered in June 1988. The flash crash was confined to a single day.
This is not to say that all “surprise” events are transitory. The Great Depression followed the stock market crash of 1929, and the effects of the financial crisis in 2007 and 2008 linger on five years later.

The question is, how should we respond to uncertainties and Black Swans? One sensible way is to be more diligent in quantifying the risks we can see. For example, since extreme events don’t happen often, we’re likely to be misled if we base our risk assessment on what has occurred over short time periods. We shouldn’t conclude that just because housing prices haven’t gone down over 20 years that a housing decline is not a meaningful risk. In the case of natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, asteroid strikes and solar storms, the long run could be very long indeed. While we can’t capture all risks by looking far back in time, taking into account long-term data means we’re less likely to be surprised.

Some people suggest you should respond to the risk of unknown unknowns by investing very conservatively. This means allocating most of the portfolio to “safe assets” and significantly reducing exposure to risky assets, which are likely to be affected by Black Swan surprises. This response is consistent with MPT. If you worry about Black Swans, you are, for all intents and purposes, a very risk-averse investor. The MPT portfolio position for very risk-averse investors is a position on the efficient frontier that has little risk.

The cost of investing in a low-risk position is a lower expected return (recall that historically the average return on stocks was about three times that on U.S. Treasuries), but maybe you think that’s a price worth paying. Can everyone take extremely conservative positions to avoid Black Swan risk? This clearly won’t work, because some investors must hold risky assets. If all investors try to avoid Black Swan events, the prices of those risky assets will fall to a point where the forecasted returns become too large to ignore.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
All quant theories and strategies in finance are based upon some foundational assumptions that in rare instances turn into the Achilles' heel of the entire superstructure. The classic example is the wonderful theory and arbitrage strategy of Long Term Capital Management (LTCM) formed by the best quants in finance (two with Nobel Prizes in economics). After remarkable successes one nickel at a time in a secret global arbitrage strategy based heavily on the Black-Scholes Model, LTCM placed a trillion dollar bet that failed dramatically and became the only hedge fund that nearly imploded all of Wall Street. At a heavy cost, Wall Street investment bankers pooled billions of dollars to quietly shut down LTCM ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm#LTCM

So what was the Achilles heal of the arbitrage strategy of LTCM? It was an assumption that a huge portion of the global financial market would not collapse all at once. Low and behold, the Asian financial markets collapsed all at once and left LTCM naked and dangling from a speculative cliff.

There is a tremendous (one of the best videos I've ever seen on the Black-Scholes Model) PBS Nova video called "Trillion Dollar Bet" explaining why LTCM collapsed.  Go to http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/stockmarket/ 
This video is in the media libraries on most college campuses.  I highly recommend showing this video to students.  It is extremely well done and exciting to watch.

One of the more interesting summaries is the Report of The President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, April 1999 --- http://www.ustreas.gov/press/releases/reports/hedgfund.pdf 

The principal policy issue arising out of the events surrounding the near collapse of LTCM is how to constrain excessive leverage. By increasing the chance that problems at one financial institution could be transmitted to other institutions, excessive leverage can increase the likelihood of a general breakdown in the functioning of financial markets. This issue is not limited to hedge funds; other financial institutions are often larger and more highly leveraged than most hedge funds.

What went wrong at Long Term Capital Management? --- http://www.killer-essays.com/Economics/euz220.shtml 

The video and above reports, however, do not delve into the tax shelter pushed by Myron Scholes and his other LTCM partners. A nice summary of the tax shelter case with links to other documents can be found at http://www.cambridgefinance.com/CFP-LTCM.pdf 

The above August 27, 2004 ruling by Judge Janet Bond Arterton rounds out the "Trillion Dollar Bet."

The classic and enormous scandal was Long Term Capital led by Nobel Prize winning Merton and Scholes (actually the blame is shared  with their devoted doctoral students).  There is a tremendous (one of the best videos I've ever seen on the Black-Scholes Model) PBS Nova video ("Trillion Dollar Bet") explaining why LTC collapsed.  Go to http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/stockmarket/ 

Another illustration of the Achilles' heel of a popular mathematical theory and strategy is the 2008 collapse mortgage-backed CDO financial risk bonds based upon David Li's Gaussian copula function of risk diversification in portfolios. The Achilles' heel was the assumption that the real estate bubble would not burst to a point where millions of subprime mortgages would all go into default at roughly the same time.

Can the 2008 investment banking failure be traced to a math error?
Recipe for Disaster:  The Formula That Killed Wall Street --- http://www.wired.com/techbiz/it/magazine/17-03/wp_quant?currentPage=all
Link forwarded by Jim Mahar ---
http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/recipe-for-disaster-formula-that-killed.html 

Some highlights:

"For five years, Li's formula, known as a Gaussian copula function, looked like an unambiguously positive breakthrough, a piece of financial technology that allowed hugely complex risks to be modeled with more ease and accuracy than ever before. With his brilliant spark of mathematical legerdemain, Li made it possible for traders to sell vast quantities of new securities, expanding financial markets to unimaginable levels.

His method was adopted by everybody from bond investors and Wall Street banks to ratings agencies and regulators. And it became so deeply entrenched—and was making people so much money—that warnings about its limitations were largely ignored.

Then the model fell apart." The article goes on to show that correlations are at the heart of the problem.

"The reason that ratings agencies and investors felt so safe with the triple-A tranches was that they believed there was no way hundreds of homeowners would all default on their loans at the same time. One person might lose his job, another might fall ill. But those are individual calamities that don't affect the mortgage pool much as a whole: Everybody else is still making their payments on time.

But not all calamities are individual, and tranching still hadn't solved all the problems of mortgage-pool risk. Some things, like falling house prices, affect a large number of people at once. If home values in your neighborhood decline and you lose some of your equity, there's a good chance your neighbors will lose theirs as well. If, as a result, you default on your mortgage, there's a higher probability they will default, too. That's called correlation—the degree to which one variable moves in line with another—and measuring it is an important part of determining how risky mortgage bonds are."

I would highly recommend reading the entire thing that gets much more involved with the actual formula etc.

The “math error” might truly be have been an error or it might have simply been a gamble with what was perceived as miniscule odds of total market failure. Something similar happened in the case of the trillion-dollar disastrous 1993 collapse of Long Term Capital Management formed by Nobel Prize winning economists and their doctoral students who took similar gambles that ignored the “miniscule odds” of world market collapse -- -
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm#LTCM  

The rhetorical question is whether the failure is ignorance in model building or risk taking using the model?

"In Plato's Cave:  Mathematical models are a powerful way of predicting financial markets. But they are fallible" The Economist, January 24, 2009, pp. 10-14 ---
http://www.economist.com/specialreports/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12957753

ROBERT RUBIN was Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary. He has worked at the top of Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. But he made arguably the single most influential decision of his long career in 1983, when as head of risk arbitrage at Goldman he went to the MIT Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to hire an economist called Fischer Black.

A decade earlier Myron Scholes, Robert Merton and Black had explained how to use share prices to calculate the value of derivatives. The Black-Scholes options-pricing model was more than a piece of geeky mathematics. It was a manifesto, part of a revolution that put an end to the anti-intellectualism of American finance and transformed financial markets from bull rings into today’s quantitative powerhouses. Yet, in a roundabout way, Black’s approach also led to some of the late boom’s most disastrous lapses.

Derivatives markets are not new, nor are they an exclusively Western phenomenon. Mr Merton has described how Osaka’s Dojima rice market offered forward contracts in the 17th century and organised futures trading by the 18th century. However, the growth of derivatives in the 36 years since Black’s formula was published has taken them from the periphery of financial services to the core.

In “The Partnership”, a history of Goldman Sachs, Charles Ellis records how the derivatives markets took off. The International Monetary Market opened in 1972; Congress allowed trade in commodity options in 1976; S&P 500 futures launched in 1982, and options on those futures a year later. The Chicago Board Options Exchange traded 911 contracts on April 26th 1973, its first day (and only one month before Black-Scholes appeared in print). In 2007 the CBOE’s volume of contracts reached almost 1 trillion.

Trading has exploded partly because derivatives are useful. After America came off the gold standard in 1971, businesses wanted a way of protecting themselves against the movements in exchange rates, just as they sought protection against swings in interest rates after Paul Volcker, Mr Greenspan’s predecessor as chairman of the Fed, tackled inflation in the 1980s. Equity options enabled investors to lay off general risk so that they could concentrate on the specific types of corporate risk they wanted to trade.

The other force behind the explosion in derivatives trading was the combination of mathematics and computing. Before Black-Scholes, option prices had been little more than educated guesses. The new model showed how to work out an option price from the known price-behaviour of a share and a bond. It is as if you had a formula for working out the price of a fruit salad from the prices of the apples and oranges that went into it, explains Emanuel Derman, a physicist who later took Black’s job at Goldman. Confidence in pricing gave buyers and sellers the courage to pile into derivatives. The better that real prices correlate with the unknown option price, the more confidently you can take on any level of risk. “In a thirsty world filled with hydrogen and oxygen,” Mr Derman has written, “someone had finally worked out how to synthesise H2O.”

Poetry in Brownian motion Black-Scholes is just a model, not a complete description of the world. Every model makes simplifications, but some of the simplifications in Black-Scholes looked as if they would matter. For instance, the maths it uses to describe how share prices move comes from the equations in physics that describe the diffusion of heat. The idea is that share prices follow some gentle random walk away from an equilibrium, rather like motes of dust jiggling around in Brownian motion. In fact, share-price movements are more violent than that.

Over the years the “quants” have found ways to cope with this—better ways to deal with, as it were, quirks in the prices of fruit and fruit salad. For a start, you can concentrate on the short-run volatility of prices, which in some ways tends to behave more like the Brownian motion that Black imagined. The quants can introduce sudden jumps or tweak their models to match actual share-price movements more closely. Mr Derman, who is now a professor at New York’s Columbia University and a partner at Prisma Capital Partners, a fund of hedge funds, did some of his best-known work modelling what is called the “volatility smile”—an anomaly in options markets that first appeared after the 1987 stockmarket crash when investors would pay extra for protection against another imminent fall in share prices.

The fixes can make models complex and unwieldy, confusing traders or deterring them from taking up new ideas. There is a constant danger that behaviour in the market changes, as it did after the 1987 crash, or that liquidity suddenly dries up, as it has done in this crisis. But the quants are usually pragmatic enough to cope. They are not seeking truth or elegance, just a way of capturing the behaviour of a market and of linking an unobservable or illiquid price to prices in traded markets. The limit to the quants’ tinkering has been not mathematics but the speed, power and cost of computers. Nobody has any use for a model which takes so long to compute that the markets leave it behind.

The idea behind quantitative finance is to manage risk. You make money by taking known risks and hedging the rest. And in this crash foreign-exchange, interest-rate and equity derivatives models have so far behaved roughly as they should.

A muddle of mortgages Yet the idea behind modelling got garbled when pools of mortgages were bundled up into collateralised-debt obligations (CDOs). The principle is simple enough. Imagine a waterfall of mortgage payments: the AAA investors at the top catch their share, the next in line take their share from what remains, and so on. At the bottom are the “equity investors” who get nothing if people default on their mortgage payments and the money runs out.

Despite the theory, CDOs were hopeless, at least with hindsight (doesn’t that phrase come easily?). The cash flowing from mortgage payments into a single CDO had to filter up through several layers. Assets were bundled into a pool, securitised, stuffed into a CDO, bits of that plugged into the next CDO and so on and on. Each source of a CDO had interminable pages of its own documentation and conditions, and a typical CDO might receive income from several hundred sources. It was a lawyer’s paradise.

This baffling complexity could hardly be more different from an equity or an interest rate. It made CDOs impossible to model in anything but the most rudimentary way—all the more so because each one contained a unique combination of underlying assets. Each CDO would be sold on the basis of its own scenario, using central assumptions about the future of interest rates and defaults to “demonstrate” the payouts over, say, the next 30 years. This central scenario would then be “stress-tested” to show that the CDO was robust—though oddly the tests did not include a 20% fall in house prices.

This was modelling at its most feeble. Derivatives model an unknown price from today’s known market prices. By contrast, modelling from history is dangerous. There was no guarantee that the future would be like the past, if only because the American housing market had never before been buoyed up by a frenzy of CDOs. In any case, there are not enough past housing data to form a rich statistical picture of the market—especially if you decide not to include the 1930s nationwide fall in house prices in your sample.

Neither could the models take account of falling mortgage-underwriting standards. Mr Rajan of the University of Chicago says academic research suggests mortgage originators, keen to automate their procedures, stopped giving potential borrowers lengthy interviews because they could not easily quantify the firmness of someone’s handshake or the fixity of their gaze. Such things turned out to be better predictors of default than credit scores or loan-to-value ratios, but the investors at the end of a long chain of securities could not monitor lending decisions.

The issuers of CDOs asked rating agencies to assess their quality. Although the agencies insist that they did a thorough job, a senior quant at a large bank says that the agencies’ models were even less sophisticated than the issuers’. For instance, a BBB tranche in a CDO might pay out in full if the defaults remained below 6%, and not at all once they went above 6.5%. That is an all-or-nothing sort of return, quite different from a BBB corporate bond, say. And yet, because both shared the same BBB rating, they would be modelled in the same way.

Issuers like to have an edge over the rating agencies. By paying one for rating the CDOs, some may have laid themselves open to a conflict of interest. With help from companies like Codefarm, an outfit from Brighton in Britain that knew the agencies’ models for corporate CDOs, issuers could build securities with any risk profile they chose, including those made up from lower-quality ingredients that would nevertheless win AAA ratings. Codefarm has recently applied for administration.

There is a saying on Wall Street that the test of a product is whether clients will buy it. Would they have bought into CDOs had it not been for the dazzling performance of the quants in foreign-exchange, interest-rate and equity derivatives? There is every sign that the issuing banks believed their own sales patter. The banks so liked CDOs that they held on to a lot of their own issues, even when the idea behind the business had been to sell them on. They also lent buyers much of the money to bid for CDOs, certain that the securities were a sound investment. With CDOs in deep trouble, the lenders are now suffering.

Modern finance is supposed to be all about measuring risks, yet corporate and mortgage-backed CDOs were a leap in the dark. According to Mr Derman, with Black-Scholes “you know what you are assuming when you use the model, and you know exactly what has been swept out of view, and hence you can think clearly about what you may have overlooked.” By contrast, with CDOs “you don’t quite know what you are ignoring, so you don’t know how to adjust for its inadequacies.”

Now that the world has moved far beyond any of the scenarios that the CDO issuers modelled, investors’ quantitative grasp of the payouts has fizzled into blank uncertainty. That makes it hard to put any value on them, driving away possible buyers. The trillion-dollar bet on mortgages has gone disastrously wrong. The hope is that the trillion-dollar bet on companies does not end up that way too.

Continued in article

Closing Jensen Comment
So is portfolio diversification theory dead? I hardly think so. But if any lesson is to be learned is that we should question those critical underlying assumptions in Plato's Cave before worldwide strategies are implemented that overlook the Achilles' heel of those critical underlying assumptions.

 


"History, Not Politics," by Serena Golden, Inside Higher Ed, May 21, 2010 ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/05/21/spence

Jonathan Spence came here to deliver a speech, but don't let that fool you: his address -- the 39th Annual Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, which took place Thursday -- in no way resembled the sort typically associated with D.C.

The Jefferson Lecture is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, which describes the lecture as "the most prestigious honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities." Those chosen for the distinction are typically academics or creative types (or both) -- but, given the setting, the sponsor, and the nature of the award (which "recognizes an individual... who has the ability to communicate the knowledge and wisdom of the humanities in a broad, appealing way"), Jefferson Lecturers have historically taken the opportunity to make a larger (and sometimes tacitly political) point related to the humanities. Last year, controversial bioethicist Leon Kass used his lecture to criticize the way the humanities are taught and researched at American universities; in 2007, Harvey Mansfield argued, with many subtle political allusions, that the social sciences are in dire need of "the help of literature and history"; Tom Wolfe's 2006 lecture discussed how the humanities shed light on modern culture (and lamented the current state of that culture on campuses); 2005 lecturer Donald Kagan and 2004 lecturer Helen Vendler offered opposing views on which disciplines of the humanities are most crucial, and why.

If any of those in the crowd (noticeably larger than last year's) at the Warner Theater last night were familiar with the Jefferson Lectures of years prior, they were in for a surprise.

Spence is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University, whose faculty he joined in 1966. His specialty has always been China -- his 14 books on Chinese history include 1990's The Search for Modern China, upon whose publication the New York Times accurately predicted that it would "undoubtedly become a standard text on the subject" -- and his lecture was entitled "When Minds Met: China and the West in the Seventeenth Century." Even this relatively specific appellation, however, conveys a misleading breadth, for Spence's lecture focused almost exclusively on three men -- Shen Fuzong, an exceptionally learned Chinese traveler; Thomas Hyde, an English scholar of history and language; and Robert Boyle, also English, a scientist and philosopher of considerable renown -- and one year: 1687.

In his lecture, Spence gave what may (or may not) have been one brief acknowledgment that he'd chosen an unusually narrow topic of discourse: "It is a commonplace, I think, that the sources that underpin our concept of the humanities, as a focus for our thinking, are expected to be broadly inclusive." But, for himself, Spence dismissed that notion in one more sentence: "...as a historian I have always been drawn to the apparently small-scale happenings in circumscribed settings, out of which we can tease a more expansive story."

Thus he dedicated the rest of his lecture to the story of those three historical figures in the year 1687. Shen had traveled to Europe in the company of one of his teachers, a Flemish Jesuit priest who was co-editing a book of the sayings of Confucius from Chinese into Latin. Hyde, librarian at the University of Oxford's Bodleian Library, invited Shen there to assist him with the cataloging of some Chinese books -- and also because Hyde, who in that era would have been called an Orientalist, wanted to learn Chinese himself. After a brief stay at Oxford, Shen returned to London, bearing a letter of introduction from Hyde to his friend Boyle; the letter recommended that Boyle meet and converse with the Chinese scholar. The letter had to be convincing, Spence explained, because Boyle's reputation was by then widespread, and "he was so inundated with curious visitors that at times he had to withdraw into self-enforced seclusion...."

Shen did meet Boyle at least once; Boyle's work diary mentions their discussion of the Chinese language and its scholars (a conversation that, like all of those between Shen and Hyde, must have taken place in Latin: Shen's Latin was excellent, but he did not, evidently, know English). And Hyde maintained correspondence not only with his old friend Boyle -- over the years, the two had "discussed Arabic and Persian texts, Malay grammars... and how to access books from Tangier, Constantinople and Bombay" as well as "the chemical constituents of sal ammoniac and amber, the effectiveness of certain Mexican herbs... current studies of human blood and air, the nature of papyrus, the writings of Ramon Llull and the use of elixirs and alchemy in the treatment of illnesses" -- but also with Shen, until around the time of the latter's departure from England for Portugal in the spring of 1688.The letters between Shen and Hyde covered such topics as "Chinese vocabulary... China's units of weights and measurements... the workings of the Chinese examination system and bureaucracy... [and] the Chinese Buddhist belief in the transmigration of souls."

"All three men," Spence ultimately concluded, "though so different, shared certain basic ideas about human knowledge: these included... the importance of linguistic precision, the need for broad-based comparative studies, the role of clarity in argument, the need for thorough scrutiny of philosophical and theological principles.... Theirs, though brief, had been a real meeting of the minds. And the values they shared remain, well over three hundred years later, the kind that we can seek to practice even in our own hurried lives."

That final point was the closest Spence came to suggesting a particular take-home message for his audience; however, in an interview with Inside Higher Ed, held that morning in the lobby of the Willard Hotel, he did mention a few ideas that he was hoping to convey. For one thing, Spence said, given the current importance of U.S.-China relations, he hopes this much older, smaller-scale example of dialogue between the East and West will "give some perspective to that."

"Historians," he said, "try to get people away from just focusing on the present; they try to give them some sort of stronger sense of continuity, human continuity. And I just like the range of things, these three people that draw together, and they're writing their letters to each other, and their few meetings... and in that short time they talk about examination systems, they talk about language, competition, they talk about medicine, they talk about -- I was fascinated, they talk about chess..... All these things seemed to me to flow together, and I think they'd make an interesting -- I hope they'd make an interesting -- package about cultural contact."

There's a message in that, Spence said: "to make our range of contact as wide as possible, and to use our intelligence about how to do this."

Another issue raised in the lecture, Spence said -- "maybe a small point, but perhaps worth making" -- has to do with the teaching and learning of languages; Hyde dreamed of bringing native speakers of various Eastern languages to Oxford, to establish a college of languages. "Why should everybody else on the planet speak English?" Spence asked. "I mean, why should they?"

But on the larger importance of the humanities, and their current status in higher education and society at large, Spence was reluctant to make a strong argument. "It's not just a case of encouraging humanities in the abstract; it's having something to say.... The main search should be for what is the most meaningful thing you can achieve with the humanities, how can you share some kind of broader cultural values, or how can you learn things about yourself or other societies. The challenge is to use the humane intelligence and see what can be built on that."

And when it comes to funding, "any government has to put its priorities somewhere, and this does usually mean cutting something."

His lecture, Spence said, isn't "meant to be exactly a political speech, you know, I hope people understand that."

For the most part, those in attendance seemed more than satisfied. Spence's talk was punctuated frequently by warm laughter from the audience -- whom he indulged shamelessly, often departing from his prepared remarks to expound upon details that interested him, or to make additional jokes whenever the crowd found one of his remarks especially humorous. When he finished, the applause was long and loud, and one woman remarked audibly, "That was amazing!"; her companion replied, "Nice, really nice!"

But at least a few people reacted with more ambivalence. One group of young attendees, who identified themselves as fans of Spence, having been students of his as undergraduates at Yale, said that while they'd enjoyed the lecture, they had been hoping that Spence would make a more explicit connection between his topic and issues of current cultural or political relevance. One noted that, in his introductory remarks that evening, NEH Chairman James Leach had described the purpose of the Jefferson Lecture as being "to narrow the gap between the world of academia and public affairs," and had emphasized the Endowment's goal of "bridging cultures."

There was an "irony," this young man said, in the fact that Spence's lecture precisely addressed the bridging of two cultures, but Spence hadn't made a bridge between his own remarks -- which the audience member interpreted as "a clarion call for better scholarship" -- and any other realm. "Listeners," he said (possibly referring to himself), "want something that's cut and dry, that's tweetable."

The possibility of such complaints about his speech had arisen during Inside Higher Ed's interview with Spence that morning; he hadn't seemed concerned. "I'm not going to sort of over-apologize to the audience... they've chosen to come to hear about the seventeenth century" -- he chuckled -- "I think we announced that!"

History of the CMA Examination and Revisions

October 30, 2010 message from James Martin

For an update and history of the CMA program see VanZante, N. R. 2010. IMA's
professional certification program has changed. Management Accounting
Quarterly
(Summer): 48-51.

or my summary of VanZante's article at

http://maaw.info/ArticleSummaries/ArtSumVanZante2010.htm

The information provided in this paper is very similar to the information
provided by Brausch and Whitney earlier this year. However, VanZante adds a
chronological history of the CMA program and explains why the CFM exam was
discontinued and merged into the new CMA exam.

For more information see MAAW's professional exams section at

http://maaw.info/ProfessionalExamsMain.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on managerial accounting are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#ManagementAccounting

Bob Jensen’s call for better research in the accounting academy ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TheoryTAR.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on accounting history are at
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/05/21/spence


February 22, 2011 message from Gary Mueller

Hi, Bob + Erika -

We didn't get around to putting together our usual "annual report" this year. We did a fair bit of travel during the 2nd half of 2010, had a number of family get-togethers, and time got away from us. But thankfully we are reasonably healthy and well. Our major downsizing was a pain, but now we are glad we tackled it in 2009. How are you both? Hopefully you did not have to suffer through the cold, cold winter in the N.E.

Since you are both quite family oriented, I thought you might be interested in the completion of my professional biography by Dale Flesher at Ole Miss. I am very happy with the outcome. So I am enclosed the flyer about the book in the attachment hereto.

Be well and keep warm! Best greetings and regards,

Gary & Coralie

Jensen Comment
Although the above message from Gary Mueller is somewhat personal, I thought readers might like to hear from Gary and to know about the recent biography about Gary that was written by accounting historians Dale Flesher and Gary Previts:

Gerhard G. Mueller: Father of International Accounting Education
By Dale L. Flesher and Gary Previts
 Excerpts --- Click Here
 http://snipurl.com/Garymueller
 http://books.google.com/books?id=AJVMGhLy-sEC&pg=PR9&lpg=PR9&dq=Flesher+Biography+%22Gerhard+Mueller%22&source=bl&ots=ke6Ixd4eYY&sig=caAPec9xbxIALLaj0pdfOXSW3Ww&hl=en&ei=2qBjTYD2JcSAlAeOmd3gCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBkQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Flesher%20Biography%20%22Gerhard%20Mueller%22&f=false

Although I've known Gary and Coralie for years, we became much closer in the years that we were both on the Executive Committee of the American Accounting Association. Because there was significant outside funding for our EC meetings in those years, we had some wonderful trips with spouses to places like Amsterdam and Puerto Rico and Hawaii. When we met outside the U.S., Gary usually had a purpose. For example, when we met in Amsterdam he organized meetings where we interacted with leaders of European accounting education. Gary had more global contacts in accounting education than any person I've ever known other than the very, very long term serving international accounting professor Paul Garner.

These were exciting times for the Executive Committee because it was a time when the Big Eight accounting firms gave the AAA $4 million to establish the Accounting Education Change Commission ---
http://aaahq.org/AECC/history/cover.htm
Gary Mueller was instrumental in organizing the entire AECC Program.

For  36 years when Gary was at the University of Washington he was arguably the best known international accounting professor in the world. Gary grew up in Germany and was fluent in several languages (including difficult German dialects). In addition to his various books on international accounting, Gary chaired the doctoral dissertations of some outstanding international accounting students.

In addition to serving a AAA President, Gary was on the FASB for a full five year appointment before he retired.

Gary served the accounting profession and the Academy very well and was a mover and shaker in the globalization of accountancy.

My life is much richer for having served with Gary!


Accounting History
The September 2011 edition of The Accounting Review has some really interesting biographical book reviews and tributes to historical scholars ---
 

Anthony Hopwood (Deceased)
Gerhard G. Mueller
George J. Benston (Deceased)

CHRISTOPHER S. CHAPMAN, DAVID J. COOPER, and PETER B. MILLER (editors), Accounting, Organizations, and Institutions: Essays in Honour of Anthony Hopwood (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-19-954635-0, pp. xi, 441) ---
http://aaapubs.aip.org/getpdf/servlet/GetPDFServlet?filetype=pdf&id=ACRVAS000086000005001835000001&idtype=cvips&prog=normal&bypassSSO=1

This collection of essays memorializes the life and work of Anthony Hopwood, a thought leader in management accounting research who was renowned for developing communities of accounting scholars. These essays, written by his students, co-authors, and colleagues, were presented to Anthony in a conference of international researchers. Thus, they have benefited from the counsel of the editors, from vigorous discussion among conference participants, and from reactions by Anthony himself. Consistent with Anthony’s distinguished career, in what may be his final research endeavor he contributed to the creation of a collection of serious scholarly works, worthy of consideration by all accounting researchers.

The volume is comprised of 18 chapters that collectively cover themes that animated Anthony’s work. Chief among these is the importance of studying accounting in the organizational and social contexts in which it operates, with an aim of understanding how accounting shapes and is shaped by its environment. In the introductory chapter, the editors delineate a tripartite schema of accounting, organizations, and institutions that guided their commissioning of pieces for the volume. Given the title of the journal that Anthony founded and edited for decades, Accounting, Organizations and Society (AOS), I wondered why the authors chose ‘‘institutions’’ over ‘‘societies’’ as the third element of the framework. In particular, I was curious about whether Anthony might in hindsight have preferred this, acknowledging the growing importance and use of institutional theory in accounting research. While the authors acknowledge the limitations of adhering too literally to the framework in light of indistinct conceptual boundaries (i.e., ‘‘to what extent is accounting itself an ‘institution’?’’, p. 2), they nonetheless argue convincingly for the usefulness of the framework in understanding a significant body of research that has been published in journals such as: AOS, Critical Perspectives on Accounting, and Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal. In Chapter 1, the editors provide a nice history and synthesis of these works. Although Anthony clearly played a major part in the genesis and intellectual development of the literature, the chapter is not a biographical sketch. It locates Anthony’s contributions in relation to other management scholars and in the context of current events and influential practitioner-led studies.

The editors conclude their history by reiterating Anthony’s concern: that much of the current-day neglect of accounting by social scientists stems from new modes of accountability in higher education that have been made operational through simplified, standardized performance metrics. Their hope is that these essays from ‘‘within and beyond’’ the discipline of accounting will reinvigorate research on accounting in its social context, and thereby address Anthony’s apprehension that ‘‘the only consumers of accounting research are other accounting researchers’’ (p. 22). Opting for a mix of ‘‘depth’’ strategy and ‘‘breadth’’ strategy for this review, I have selected one of the 17 contributed chapters for extensive comment and two others for brief summary.

Continued in article

DALE L. FLESHER, Gerhard G. Mueller: Father of International Accounting Education (Bingley, U.K.: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2010, ISBN 978-0-85724-333-1, pp. x, 222).
Scroll Down to Page 1838

http://aaapubs.aip.org/getpdf/servlet/GetPDFServlet?filetype=pdf&id=ACRVAS000086000005001835000001&idtype=cvips&prog=normal&bypassSSO=1

A biography, the title of which anoints its subject as the ‘‘Father of International Accounting Education,’’ raises two immediate questions. First, what exactly is international accounting and, second, what does it mean to be a ‘‘father’’ of an educational discipline?

The first question arises because it is not obvious as to what is international about international accounting. After all, the underlying concepts of accounting, like those of physics, are universal. The principles of accounting articulated by Fr. Luca Pacioli (often referred to as the ‘‘father of accounting’’) are no more confined to the boundaries of Italy than are the principles of physics described by Galileo. Yet it is doubtful that any academic physicists consider themselves specialists in ‘‘international physics.’’ ‘‘International accounting’’ is, at best, an ill-defined sub-discipline of accounting. To many—and probably to most U.S. accountants—international accounting is mainly a description of accounting practices in countries other than the United States. Needless to say, that definition would be unlikely to be embraced by our colleagues in those ‘‘other’’ countries. To others, international accounting deals primarily with measurement and reporting issues involving currency translation and related issues of consolidation. To still others, it pertains to the unique problems of controlling and auditing the accounting systems of multinational enterprises.

In his biography of Gerhard G. Mueller, Professor Dale L. Flesher never explicitly answers that first question. Yet it is apparent from the extraordinary length and breadth of Mueller’s publications that international accounting incorporated almost anything that involved entities outside of the United States. Indeed, he himself defined international accounting as ‘‘the producing, exchanging, using, and interpreting of accounting data across national borders’’ (p. 45).

As for the second question, what it means to be the ‘‘father’’ of international accounting education, Flesher concedes that Mueller was certainly not its biological father; others both wrote about and taught international accounting prior to him. But he leaves no doubt that Mueller adopted the discipline and can take credit for nurturing it up to adulthood.

. . .

Book review author Mike Granof states the following on Page 1841:
Flesher’s treatise leaves one significant question unanswered: Why has Gerhard Mueller not yet been elected to the Accounting Hall of Fame?

Continued in article

JAMES D. ROSENFELD (editor), The Selected Works of George J. Benston: Volume 2, Accounting and Finance (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010, ISBN: 978- 0-19-538902-9, Vol. 2, pp. xviii, 426).
Scroll down to Page 1843
http://aaapubs.aip.org/getpdf/servlet/GetPDFServlet?filetype=pdf&id=ACRVAS000086000005001835000001&idtype=cvips&prog=normal&bypassSSO=1

This volume, which is edited by James D. Rosenfeld, the late George Benston’s friend and colleague at Emory University, consists of 16 articles arranged consecutively in two parts: nine accounting articles and seven finance articles. I will discuss all nine accounting articles in chronological order. I will then discuss two accounting articles that were omitted from the volume that were more highly cited than eight of the nine accounting articles included in the volume (source of citations: scholar.google.com as of February 10, 2011). Before beginning my discussion of the 11 articles, I opine that George Benston (hereafter, George) was one of the few and last Renaissance men of our profession, making numerous contributions to the accounting, finance, economics, and banking literatures.1 Indeed, while I focus on his contributions to accounting, George was best known for his expertise in banking, an area in which he was often cited by The Economist. As additional evidence of his expertise in banking, George was an Associate Editor of The Journal of Money, Credit, and Banking.2

Volume 1 of this two-volume collection covers George’s contributions to banking and financial services.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
It saddens me that my friends Tony Hopwood and George Benston passed on. It thrills me, however, to still correspond with Gary Mueller. I was honored to serve on the Executive Committee when Gary was President of the American Accounting Association. The task fell upon Gary's shoulders to set up the Accounting Education Change Commission that received $4 million from the Big Eight to fund change in accounting education. We chose Gary's then colleague Gary Sundem to serve as CEO of the AECC.


Comparisons of IFRS with Domestic Standards of Many Nations
http://www.iasplus.com/country/compare.htm

More Detailed Differences (Comparisons) between FASB and IASB Accounting Standards

2011 Update

"IFRS and US GAAP: Similarities and Differences" according to PwC (2011 Edition)
http://www.pwc.com/us/en/issues/ifrs-reporting/publications/ifrs-and-us-gaap-similarities-and-differences.jhtml
Note the Download button!
Note that warnings are given throughout the document that the similarities and differences mentioned in the booklet are not comprehensive of all similarities and differences. The document is, however, a valuable addition to students of FASB versus IASB standard differences and similarities.

It's not easy keeping track of what's changing and how, but this publication can help. Changes for 2011 include:

This continues to be one of PwC's most-read publications, and we are confident the 2011 edition will further your understanding of these issues and potential next steps.

For further exploration of the similarities and differences between IFRS and US GAAP, please also visit our IFRS Video Learning Center.

To request a hard copy of this publication, please contact your PwC engagement team or contact us.

Jensen Comment
My favorite comparison topics (Derivatives and Hedging) begin on Page 158
The booklet does a good job listing differences but, in my opinion, overly downplays the importance of these differences. It may well be that IFRS is more restrictive in some areas and less restrictive in other areas to a fault. This is one topical area where IFRS becomes much too subjective such that comparisons of derivatives and hedging activities under IFRS can defeat the main purpose of "standards." The main purpose of an "accounting standard" is to lead to greater comparability of inter-company financial statements. Boo on IFRS in this topical area, especially when it comes to testing hedge effectiveness!

One key quotation is on Page 165

IFRS does not specifically discuss the methodology of applying a critical-terms match in the level of detail included within U.S. GAAP.
Then it goes yatta, yatta, yatta.

Jensen Comment
This is so typical of when IFRS fails to present the "same level of detail" and more importantly fails to provide "implementation guidance" comparable with the FASB's DIG implementation topics and illustrations.

I have a huge beef with the lack of illustrations in IFRS versus the many illustrations in U.S. GAAP.

I have a huge beef with the lack of illustrations in IFRS versus the many illustrations in U.S. GAAP.

I have a huge beef with the lack of illustrations in IFRS versus the many illustrations in U.S. GAAP.

Bob Jensen's threads on accounting standards setting controversies ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#MethodsForSetting

 

"Canadian regulator decides against allowing early adoption of recent IFRSs by certain entities," IAS Plus, November 1, 2011 ---
http://www.iasplus.com/index.htm

. . .

In making its decision, the OSFI considered a number of factors such as industry consistency, OSFI policy positions on accounting and capital, operational capacity and resource constraints of Federally Regulated Entities (FREs), the ability to benefit from improved standards arising from the financial crisis and the notion of a level playing field with other Canadian and international financial institutions. OSFI concluded that FREs should not early adopt the following new or amended IFRSs, but instead should adhere to their mandatory effective dates:

Continued


 

Jensen Comment
The clients, auditors, and the AICPA clamoring that U.S. firms should be able to voluntarily choose IFRS instead of U.S. GAAP even before it has not been decided that IFRS will ever replace FASB standards seem to ignore the problems that voluntary choice of IFRS might cause for investors and analysts. The above reasoning by the OSFI makes sense to me.

But then outfits like the AICPA have a self-serving interest in earning millions of dollars selling IFRS training courses and materials.
 

November 2, 2011 reply from Patricia Walters

Does that mean you oppose options to early adopt standards in general, not just IFRSs?

Pat

 

November 2, 2011 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Pat,

It's hard to say regarding early adoption of a particular national or international standard, because there can be unique circumstances. For example, FAS 123R simply altered how to make disclosures rather than alter the disclosures themselves since employee option expenses had to be disclosed before the FAS 123R adoption date. But even here early adoption of FAS 123R by Company A versus late adoption by Company B made simple comparisons of eps and P/E ratios between these companies less easy.

There's a huge difference between early adoption of a particular standard and early adoption of an entire system of standards like switching from FASB accounting standards to IFRS.

I think the Canadian position of early adoption of IFRS is probably correct because of the mess early adoption of IFRS makes with comparisons of companies using different accounting standards and the added costs of regulation of more than one set of standards. Also think of the added burden placed upon the courts to adjudicate disputes when differing sets of standards are being used.

Even though we allow IFRS for SEC registered foreign companies, I think it would be a total mess for the SEC, the PCAOB, investors, analysts, educators, trainers, auditing, and even the IRS (where tax and reporting treatments must sometimes be reconciled) if our domestic corporations could choose between FASB versus IASB standards.

There are hundreds of differences between FASB and IASB standards. Allowing companies domestic companies to cherry pick which system they choose before it is even known if there will ever be official replacement of FASB standards by IASB standards would be very, very confusing. What if there never is a decision to replace FASB standards? Do want to simply allow companies to choose to bypass FASB standards at their own discretion?

Of course, if information were costless it might be ideal to require financial reporting where FASB and IASB outcomes are reconciled. But clients and auditors generally contend that the cost of doing this greatly exceeds benefits. And teaching financial accounting would become exceedingly complicated if we had to teach two sets of standards on an equal basis.

I would certainly hate to face a CPA examination that had nearly equal coverage of both FASB and IASB standards simultaneously. I say this especially after viewing the hundreds of pages of complicated differences between the two standards systems.

Respectfully,
Bob Jensen


Comparisons of IFRS with Domestic Standards of Many Nations
http://www.iasplus.com/country/compare.htm

More Detailed Differences (Comparisons) between FASB and IASB Accounting Standards

2011 Update

"IFRS and US GAAP: Similarities and Differences" according to PwC (2011 Edition)
http://www.pwc.com/us/en/issues/ifrs-reporting/publications/ifrs-and-us-gaap-similarities-and-differences.jhtml
Note the Download button!
Note that warnings are given throughout the document that the similarities and differences mentioned in the booklet are not comprehensive of all similarities and differences. The document is, however, a valuable addition to students of FASB versus IASB standard differences and similarities.

It's not easy keeping track of what's changing and how, but this publication can help. Changes for 2011 include:

This continues to be one of PwC's most-read publications, and we are confident the 2011 edition will further your understanding of these issues and potential next steps.

For further exploration of the similarities and differences between IFRS and US GAAP, please also visit our IFRS Video Learning Center.

To request a hard copy of this publication, please contact your PwC engagement team or contact us.

Jensen Comment
My favorite comparison topics (Derivatives and Hedging) begin on Page 158
The booklet does a good job listing differences but, in my opinion, overly downplays the importance of these differences. It may well be that IFRS is more restrictive in some areas and less restrictive in other areas to a fault. This is one topical area where IFRS becomes much too subjective such that comparisons of derivatives and hedging activities under IFRS can defeat the main purpose of "standards." The main purpose of an "accounting standard" is to lead to greater comparability of inter-company financial statements. Boo on IFRS in this topical area, especially when it comes to testing hedge effectiveness!

One key quotation is on Page 165

IFRS does not specifically discuss the methodology of applying a critical-terms match in the level of detail included within U.S. GAAP.
Then it goes yatta, yatta, yatta.

Jensen Comment
This is so typical of when IFRS fails to present the "same level of detail" and more importantly fails to provide "implementation guidance" comparable with the FASB's DIG implementation topics and illustrations.

I have a huge beef with the lack of illustrations in IFRS versus the many illustrations in U.S. GAAP.

I have a huge beef with the lack of illustrations in IFRS versus the many illustrations in U.S. GAAP.

I have a huge beef with the lack of illustrations in IFRS versus the many illustrations in U.S. GAAP.

Bob Jensen's threads on accounting standards setting controversies ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#MethodsForSetting

 

"Canadian regulator decides against allowing early adoption of recent IFRSs by certain entities," IAS Plus, November 1, 2011 ---
http://www.iasplus.com/index.htm

. . .

In making its decision, the OSFI considered a number of factors such as industry consistency, OSFI policy positions on accounting and capital, operational capacity and resource constraints of Federally Regulated Entities (FREs), the ability to benefit from improved standards arising from the financial crisis and the notion of a level playing field with other Canadian and international financial institutions. OSFI concluded that FREs should not early adopt the following new or amended IFRSs, but instead should adhere to their mandatory effective dates:

Continued


 

Jensen Comment
The clients, auditors, and the AICPA clamoring that U.S. firms should be able to voluntarily choose IFRS instead of U.S. GAAP even before it has not been decided that IFRS will ever replace FASB standards seem to ignore the problems that voluntary choice of IFRS might cause for investors and analysts. The above reasoning by the OSFI makes sense to me.

But then outfits like the AICPA have a self-serving interest in earning millions of dollars selling IFRS training courses and materials.
 

November 2, 2011 reply from Patricia Walters

Does that mean you oppose options to early adopt standards in general, not just IFRSs?

Pat

 

November 2, 2011 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Pat,

It's hard to say regarding early adoption of a particular national or international standard, because there can be unique circumstances. For example, FAS 123R simply altered how to make disclosures rather than alter the disclosures themselves since employee option expenses had to be disclosed before the FAS 123R adoption date. But even here early adoption of FAS 123R by Company A versus late adoption by Company B made simple comparisons of eps and P/E ratios between these companies less easy.

There's a huge difference between early adoption of a particular standard and early adoption of an entire system of standards like switching from FASB accounting standards to IFRS.

I think the Canadian position of early adoption of IFRS is probably correct because of the mess early adoption of IFRS makes with comparisons of companies using different accounting standards and the added costs of regulation of more than one set of standards. Also think of the added burden placed upon the courts to adjudicate disputes when differing sets of standards are being used.

Even though we allow IFRS for SEC registered foreign companies, I think it would be a total mess for the SEC, the PCAOB, investors, analysts, educators, trainers, auditing, and even the IRS (where tax and reporting treatments must sometimes be reconciled) if our domestic corporations could choose between FASB versus IASB standards.

There are hundreds of differences between FASB and IASB standards. Allowing companies domestic companies to cherry pick which system they choose before it is even known if there will ever be official replacement of FASB standards by IASB standards would be very, very confusing. What if there never is a decision to replace FASB standards? Do want to simply allow companies to choose to bypass FASB standards at their own discretion?

Of course, if information were costless it might be ideal to require financial reporting where FASB and IASB outcomes are reconciled. But clients and auditors generally contend that the cost of doing this greatly exceeds benefits. And teaching financial accounting would become exceedingly complicated if we had to teach two sets of standards on an equal basis.

I would certainly hate to face a CPA examination that had nearly equal coverage of both FASB and IASB standards simultaneously. I say this especially after viewing the hundreds of pages of complicated differences between the two standards systems.

Respectfully,
Bob Jensen

Bob Jensen's threads on accounting standard setting controversies ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#MethodsForSetting


Before you read the article below you may want to scan the classic Baruch Lecture by Bob Elliott at
http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/library/alumni/online_exhibits/digital/saxe/saxe_1998/elliott_98.htm

"Corporate Reporting Needs a Reboot," by Paul Druckman, Harvard Business Review Blog, April 17, 2013 --- Click Here
http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/04/corporate_reporting_needs_a_re.html?referral=00563&cm_mmc=email-_-newsletter-_-daily_alert-_-alert_date&utm_source=newsletter_daily_alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=alert_date

There is a clamor of voices demanding the rebooting of capitalism, from academics (such as Michael Porter) and politicians (like Al Gore) to investors (such as CalPERS) and Occupy's street activists.

The common thread is that today's model of capitalism overemphasizes short-term financial data and neglects information that gets at the true sources of sustainable value creation — things like innovation, brand equity, customer loyalty, and key stakeholder relationships. Corporate reporting today emphasizes compliance, boilerplate and legalese. As a result, we have a massive glut of filings, press releases, analyst reports and articles focused on financial data. The system has lost sight of the point of reporting: to give companies access to financial capital by communicating their value to investors.

The consequence of the systemic failure of this lopsided model is that companies focus on short-term financial performance — because that is what they believe investors are interested in — to the detriment of long-term value creation. Investors, meanwhile, compensate for the lack of knowledge about issues central to longer term value by pricing in a risk premium. This can result in market valuations that do not reflect the fundamental performance or prospects of the business, leading to a misallocation of capital and reduced visibility for investors, reinforcing short-term decision-making. And it is business that pays the price through more expensive capital, while furthering a flawed model of capitalism.

Fortunately, there is a better way to communicate about the sources of value creation: integrated reporting. Such reporting integrates material information about a firm's financial performance with information on sustainability performance and intangibles such as intellectual and human capital.

From the investor standpoint, integrated reporting provides insights about a firm's business model, strategy, risk, performance and prospects that are simply not available under the current reporting model. It therefore supports investor decision-making by providing a more complete basis for dialogue with the company's board and an assessment of present and future value. This benefits not only the investor, but also investors' beneficiaries and the broader economy by providing a platform that encourages financial stability. Companies such as Danone, SAP, AkzoNobel and Unilever are already pushing the boundaries on their corporate reporting in this direction.

This week, the International Integrated Reporting Council (of which I am the chief executive) launched the consulting draft of integrated reporting framework. Over the next ninety days, the IIRC is seeking feedback on the draft from companies, investor groups, reporting standards organizations, accounting bodies and regulators — anybody who has a stake in seeing the transformation of corporate reporting.

The framework differs from standard financial reporting in a number of ways:

Despite the evidence of green shoots representing a new pathway for corporate reporting, I don't believe that true integrated reporting exists anywhere just yet. However, the new framework gets us closer to that goal.

While all this makes me hopeful for the future of corporate reporting, one dark cloud hangs over my outlook: US companies are lagging their European, Asian and Latin American counterparts in moving towards an integrated reporting model. Of course, we have great examples of US companies, such as Coca Cola, Prudential Finance and Clorox, joining around ninety global companies in IIRC's pilot program right now, alongside dozens of investors. But my concern is that there are deep-rooted reasons why the US environment may stifle innovation in corporate reporting.

One is that companies hesitate to make statements about anticipated future performance because they fear litigation. But there are other reasons too. Many see reporting as a compliance issue — if it's not legislated, then don't bother. And some will only move on this when they believe the majority of investors want this sort of information.

The danger for US firms who lag in adopting integrated reporting is twofold: not only will their investors lack complete information about their performance, but they also will lose out on the integrated thinking that integrated reporting drives: it reduces barriers between functional silos, aligns data systems and processes, and encourages a culture that focuses on the full spectrum of value drivers. This is all about innovation, and I am saddened to think that US companies, some of the world's most innovative businesses in their own right, might be held back because they are stuck in an out-of-date reporting model.

If integrated reporting can play its role in better corporate performance, holistic investor engagement and the proliferation of a longer-term model of capitalism, it will not have come a moment too soon.

Jensen Comment
I really hate being a luddite, but if corporate reporting is to be expanded to cover the entire ballpark as suggested in the above article, then don't look for the accounting profession to carry the ball into the new territories of corporate reporting.

In fairness, Paul Druckman did not propose that the accounting profession expand to cover these new corporate reporting territories. But in this era of rebranding of PwC and other multinational CPA firms to offer expertise in non-accounting areas it's tempting to think CPA firms can rebrand in corporate reporting of "brand equity, customer loyalty, and key stakeholder relationships."

In the accounting profession we've been through this before. The AICPA even proposed a new professional designation that became the joke of the 20th Century ---- the professional certification of a Cognitor (later changed to XYZ).
http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/Issues/2001/Oct/TheXyzCredential
Also see http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/Issues/2001/May/CpasSpeakUpOnNewGlobalCredential
Accountants are educated and trained to do what they learn in accounting education programs. They are generally not trained to become experts in "innovation, brand equity, customer loyalty, and key stakeholder relationships." Unless they have a lot more education and training outside accountancy they are not IT experts or valuation experts.

This takes me back to the days when Bob Elliott, eventually as President of the AICPA, was proposing great changes in the profession, including SysTrust, WebTrust, Eldercare Assurance, etc. For years I used Bob’s AICPA/KPMG videos as starting points for discussion in my accounting theory course. Bob relied heavily on the analogy of why the railroads that did not adapt to innovations in transportation such as Interstate Highways and Jet Airliners went downhill and not uphill. The railroads simply gave up new opportunities to startup professions rather than adapt from railroading to transportation.

Bob’s underlying assumption was that CPA firms could extend assurance services to non-traditional areas (where they were not experts but could hire new kinds of experts) by leveraging the public image of accountants as having high integrity and professional responsibility. That public image was destroyed by the many auditing scandals, notably Enron and the implosion of Andersen, that surfaced in the late 1990s and beyond ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud001.htm

This is a 1998 lecture given by Bob Eliott before his world (the lofty public perception of CPA firm integrity) collapsed ---
http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/library/alumni/online_exhibits/digital/saxe/saxe_1998/elliott_98.htm

The AICPA commenced initiatives on such things as Systrust. To my knowledge most of these initiatives bit the dust, although some CPA firms might be making money by assuring Eldercare services.

The counter argument to Bob Elliot’s initiatives is that CPA firms had no comparative advantages in expertise in their new ventures just as railroads had few comparative advantages in trucking and airline transportation industries, although the concept of piggy backing of truck trailers eventually caught on.

I still have copies of Bob’s great VCR tapes, but I doubt that these have ever been digitized. Bob could sell refrigerators to Eskimos.

 


History of Women in Accounting and Other Women in the World

Judith Drake (scholar on barriers to women in physical and mental work, including accounting) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judith_Drake

Eight Special Women of Accounting --- http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/Issues/2007/Aug/EightSpecialWomenInAccounting.htm

Among the AICPA-donated volumes at Ole Miss are two binders containing photographs of individuals appearing in the JofA or at accounting conventions from 1887 to 1979. Of the 446 individuals featured, eight are women—Christine Ross, Ellen Libby Eastman, Miriam Donnelly, Mary E. Murphy, Helen Lord, Helen H. Fortune, Mary E. Lewis and Beth M. Thompson. In a time when the profession was the all-but-exclusive domain of men, they stood out not only because of their gender but in many cases because of their accomplishments and contributions to accounting. Consider that in 1933, slightly more than 100 CPA certificates had been issued to women. By 1946, World War II had changed traditional notions of gender in the workplace, and female CPAs had more than tripled to 360—still a small contingent but, as information gleaned from the AICPA Library indicates, one capable of exerting a strong and beneficial influence on the profession.


Christine Ross

Born about 1873 in Nova Scotia, Ross took New York by storm in the late 1890s. New York state enacted licensure legislation in 1896 and gave its inaugural CPA exam in December 1896. Ross sat for the exam in June 1898, scoring second or third in her group. Six to 18 months elapsed while her certificate was delayed by state regents because of her gender. But she had completed the requirements and became the first woman CPA in the United States, receiving certificate no. 143 on Dec. 21, 1899.

Ross began practicing accounting around 1889. For several years, she worked for Manning’s Yacht Agency in New York. Her clients included women’s organizations, wealthy women and those in fashion and business.

Helen Lord
Lord received her CPA certificate from New York in 1934 and in 1935 joined the American Society of Certified Public Accountants, which merged with the American Institute of Accountants (later AICPA) the following year. In 1937, she was a partner with her father in the New York firm of Lord & Lord and a member of the AIA. She served in the late 1940s as business manager of The Woman CPA, published by the American Woman’s Society of Certified Public Accountants–American Society of Women Accountants. Lord reported the journal then had a circulation of more than 2,200.

Helen Hifner Fortune
Fortune, one of the first women CPAs in Kentucky, received certificate no. 174 in 1935 and was admitted to the AIA the following year. She became a member of an AIA committee in 1942 and by 1947 was a partner in the Lexington, Ky., firm of Hifner and Fortune.

Ellen Libby Eastman
Eastman began her career as a clerk in a Maine lumber company, eventually becoming chief accountant. She studied for the CPA exam at night and became the first woman CPA in Maine, receiving certificate no. 37 dated 1918. She was also the first woman to establish a public accounting practice in New England. Arriving in New York in 1920, Eastman focused on tax work and audited the accounts of the American Women’s Hospital in Greece. In 1925, she was a member of the ASCPA. In 1940, Eastman began working with the law firm of Hawkins, Delafield & Longfellow in New York.

She was outspoken and eloquent regarding a woman’s ability to succeed in accounting. In a 1929 article in The Certified Public Accountant, Eastman recounted her adventures:

One must be willing and able to endure long and irregular hours, unusual working arrangements and difficult travel conditions. I have worked eighteen out of the twenty-four hours of a day with time for but one meal; I have worked in the office of a bank president with its mahogany furnishings and oriental rugs and I have worked in the corner of a grain mill with a grain bin for a desk and a salt box for a chair; I have been accorded the courtesy of the private car and chauffeur of my client and have also walked two miles over the top of a mountain to a lumber camp inaccessible even with a Ford car. I have ridden from ten to fifteen miles into the country after leaving the railroad, the only conveyance being a horse and traverse runners—and this in the severity of a New England winter. I have done it with a thermometer registering fourteen degrees below zero and a twenty-five mile per hour gale blowing. I have chilled my feet and frozen my nose for the sake of success in a job which I love. I have been snowbound in railroad stations and have been stranded five miles from a garage with both rear tires of my car flat. I have ridden into and out of open culvert ditches with the workmen shouting warnings to me. And always one must keep the appointment; “how” is not the client’s concern.
 

Mary E. Murphy
A long-lived pioneer, Murphy (1905–1985) lectured, researched and taught in the United States and abroad, retiring in 1973. The Iowa native earned her bachelor of commerce degree with a major in accounting from the University of Iowa in 1927, then obtained a master’s in accountancy in 1928 from Columbia University Business School. In 1938, she received a doctorate in accountancy—only the second woman in the United States to do so—from the London School of Economics.

In 1928, Murphy began working in the New York office of Lybrand, Ross Bros. & Montgomery. Two years later, she took the CPA exam in Iowa and received certificate no. 67, to become the first woman CPA in Iowa. She joined the AIA in 1937.

Following her public accounting stint, she served for three years as the chair of the Department of Commerce at St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind. Murphy also was an assistant professor of economics at Hunter College of the City University of New York until 1951. In 1952, she received the first Fulbright professorship of accounting, with assignments in Australia and New Zealand. In 1957, she was appointed as the first director of research of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia. Murphy retired in 1973 from the accounting faculty at California State University.

She published or collaborated on more than 20 books and 100 journal articles and many book reviews and scholarly papers. From 1946 to 1965 she was the most frequently published author in The Accounting Review. Murphy investigated the role of accounting in the economy, made the case for accounting education improvements and paved the way for other aspiring women accountants to prosper. More than half her publications explored international accounting, often advocating standardization. She also emphasized accounting history and biographies.

Mary E. Lewis
Lewis received California CPA certificate no. 1404 in 1939. She was admitted to the AIA that year and by 1947 had her own firm in Los Angeles.
 

Beth M. Thompson
Thompson worked as the office manager in the Kentucky Automobile Agency she and her husband, Charles R. Thompson, owned. After closing the car business, they moved to Florida, where she worked for an accounting firm. She passed the CPA exam in 1951 with the encouragement of her husband and opened her own accounting business in Miami. In 1955, Thompson was one of only 900 women CPAs and the only female president of a state association chapter—the Dade County chapter of the Florida Institute of CPAs.

Miriam Donnelly
From 1949 to 1955, Donnelly was head librarian of the AIA library. (In 1957, the AIA was renamed the AICPA.) She began her career with the library as assistant librarian and cataloger in 1927, after working for two governmental libraries and the New York Public Library.

 

History of women accountants in the 1880. US Federal Census ---
http://repository.usfca.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=acct

Christine Ross (The First Woman CPA) --- Click Here
http://books.google.com/books?id=W8Z2a53DJ2cC&pg=PA151&lpg=PA151&dq=%22First+Woman+CPA%22&source=bl&ots=irXssMWzFN&sig=0AneWv1qO-MB6_ixatHq-mMerRQ&hl=en&sa=X&ei=N8o8UY3XBYrK0AHngoCYBw&ved=0CDgQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=%22First%20Woman%20CPA%22&f=false

Mary Jo McCann (First Woman CPA in Kansas) ---
http://www.kscpa.org/about/news/119-mary_jo_mccann_first_woman_cpa_in_kansas_passes

Bertha Aldrich (First Woman CPA in California) --- http://boards.ancestry.com/surnames.aldrich/600/mb.ashx

Accounting Reform (search for women) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accounting_reform

American Society of Women Accountants --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Cambridge#Women.27s_education

Accounting and Financial Women's Alliance --- http://www.afwa.org/

Accounting History Libraries at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) --- http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/accountancy/libraries.html
There are many items pertaining to accounting women in history, especially in the Accounting Historians Journal

Ruth Andersen, First Woman on the Board of a Big Four Accounting Firm --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Anderson_%28accountant%29

Erma Bombeck (a termite control accountant at an advertising agency) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erma_Bombeck

Cynthia Cooper (Internal auditor who blew the whistle at WorldCom) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynthia_Cooper_%28accountant%29

Lynn Brewer was never enough of a player to even mention in my threads on the Enron scandal
The foul-mouthed Sherron Watkins was the significant whistleblower at Enron
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnronQuiz.htm#10

Grace Andrews (early mathematician and accountant in Barnard College) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_Andrews_%28mathematician%29

Patricia Courtney (IRS agent and professional baseball star) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patricia_Courtney

Patrecia Barringer (Tax accountant, auditor, and professional baseball star) ---http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patricia_Barringer

Helen Nordquist (Telephone operator, accountant, and professional baseball star) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Nordquist

Rita Lee (Accounting Student Tennis Star) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janet_Lee

Diane Cummins (Canadian Accountant Track Star) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diane_Cummins

Sue Hearnshaw (British Chartered Accountant and Long Jump Star) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sue_Hearnshaw

Betty Wagner Spandikow (Accountant Who Became an Advocate of Breast Feeding) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betty_Wagner_Spandikow

Jennifer Archer (Oil and Gas Accountant Turned Fiction Writer) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jennifer_Archer

 

Women in Business --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_business

American Business Women Association --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Business_Women%27s_Association

9 to 5 Film --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9_to_5_%28musical%29

Career Women --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Career_woman

A History of Entrereneurship
"Who Are The Entrepreneurs: The Elite or the Everyday Man? A History of Entrepreneurship," by Heather A. Haveman, Jacob Habinek, and Leo A Googman, UC Berkeley,  2011 ---
http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/392635v2;jsessionid=00ECE18AD2472F4956AAF2D00CC2132E#page-2
 Who Are The Entrepreneurs: The Elite or the Everyday Man? A History of Entrepreneurship

China's Tiger Women Billionaires ---
http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/03/04/amy-chua-profiles-four-female-tycoons-in-china.html

"Liz Claiborne Must Say Adieu to Liz," by: Dana Mattioli, The Wall Street Journal, October 13, 2011 ---
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203914304576626711202553884.html?mod=djem_jiewr_AC_domainid

"New Questions on Women, Academe and Careers," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, September 22, 2008 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/09/22/women

Barbara Franklin (one of the first graduates of the Harvard Business School) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Franklin

History of Feminism --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_feminism
Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mich%C3%A8le_Pujol

National Organization for Women (NOW) --- http://www.now.org/
For example, search for "Accounting" in the search box

Women's Work --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_work 

Teachers, Accountants, and Physician Women as Slaves in Ancient Rome ---
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_ancient_Rome

Conduct Literature for Women, 1500-1640, eds. William St Clair & Irmgard Maassen (6 Volumes) (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2000).

Conduct Literature for Women, 1640-1710, eds. William St Clair & Irmgard Maassen (6 Volumes) (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2002).

History of Women in the United States --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_women_in_the_United_States

The Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America ---  http://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/schlesinger-library

Women's suffrage in the United Kingdom --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_suffrage_in_the_United_Kingdom 

By Popular Demand: "Votes for Women" Suffrage Pictures, 1850-1920 --- http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/vfwhtml/vfwhome.html

Women's Rights --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_rights
Title 15 of the United States Code ---  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Title_15_of_the_United_States_Code
Title 9 of the United States Code --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Title_9_of_the_United_States_Code
Women's Sports --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_sports

Famous Women in History --- http://www.historynet.com/famous-women-in-history

National Women's Hall of Fame --- http://www.greatwomen.org/
Note that some states also have hall of fame sites for women inductees

Women in Islam ---
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Search&limit=20&offset=120&redirs=1&profile=default&search=Women+in+Accounting

Sharia (search for the sections pertaining to women) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharia

Women's Rights Movement in Iran --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_rights_movement_in_Iran

Women in Saudi Arabia --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saudi_Arabia

Women in Libya --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_Libya

 

Geisha --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geisha

Women of Singapore --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_Singapore

Women's Roles in World Wars --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_roles_in_the_World_Wars
Women in the Military --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_the_military
Yugoslav Partisans --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yugoslav_Partisans
The story of women bomber pilots from the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladies_Courageous

Rosie the Riveter --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosie_the_Riveter

Victorian Dress Reform --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victorian_dress_reform

Women's Educational and Industrial Union --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_Educational_and_Industrial_Union H

Women in Science --- http://womeninscience.history.msu.edu/

Discovering American Women's History Online --- http://digital.mtsu.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/women

International Museum of Women http://www.imow.org/home/

Women in Scotland --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Dundee
Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_early_modern_Scotland

 Helena Marfell, First President of the Country Women's Association of Australia ---
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helena_Marfell

Women and Mormanism --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_and_Mormonism

WomenWatch: UN Information and Resources on Gender Equality and Empowerment --- http://www.un.org/womenwatch/

Sophia Smith Collection: Women's History Archives at Smith College --- http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/ssc/digitalcoll.html

Wisconsin Women's History --- http://womenst.library.wisc.edu/bibliogs/wis-women-history.html

Women in Prison --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicole_Hahn_Rafter

Women in Prison Film --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WIP

Women in the Ku Klux Klan --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ku_Klux_Klan

Women on Death Row --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment_debate_in_the_United_States

Gifts of Speech: Women's Speeches from Around the World --- http://gos.sbc.edu/

Women's Legal History --- http://wlh.law.stanford.edu/

The Frances Perkins Center --- http://francesperkinscenter.org/

Chicago Women's Liberation Union Herstory Project --- http://www.cwluherstory.org/

David Foster Wallace’s 1994 Syllabus: How to Teach Serious Literature with Lightweight Books --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2013/02/david_foster_wallaces_1994_syllabus.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

National Women's History Project http://www.nwhp.org/

African-American Women: Online Archival Collections --- http://library.duke.edu/rubenstein/collections/digitized/african-american-women/

Women Artists of the American West --- http://www.cla.purdue.edu/WAAW/MainIndex.html

Women's Colleges --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_colleges

Women at Harvard --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvard_University#Women
Radcliff  College--- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radcliffe_College

Cambridge University --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Cambridge#Women.27s_education

Society of Women's Health Research --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society_for_Women%27s_Health_Research

Films Made by Women --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_cinema

Lesbian Pulp Fiction --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesbian_pulp_fiction

Smithsonian Education: Women's History Teaching Resources
http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/educators/resource_library/women_resources.html

Teaching with Historic Places: Women's History Lesson Plans --- http://www.nps.gov/nr/twhp/mar99.htm

Algerian Women in France --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algerian_women_in_France

Barack Obama Supreme Court Candidates --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama_Supreme_Court_candidates

Women in India --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_India

Women in Saudi Arabia --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saudi_Arabia

Women in Libya --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_Libya

Feminism in Thailand --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminism_in_Thailand

Women in Taiwan --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_Taiwan

Gender Inequality in China --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_inequality_in_China

China's Tiger Woman Billionaires ---
http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/03/04/amy-chua-profiles-four-female-tycoons-in-china.html

Gender Pay Gap in Russia --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_pay_gap_in_Russia

Economic Inequality --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_inequality

Gender Pay Gap --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_pay_gap

From the Scout Report on March 1, 2013

The movement for equal pay for women continues to gain steam across the
United States

Equal pay for women battle gains traction in New York
http://www.metro.us/newyork/news/local/2013/02/21/equal-pay-for-women-battle-gains-traction-in-new-york/

Getting equal pay could become easier for women
http://www.abqjournal.com/main/2013/02/26/politics/legislature/getting-equal-pay-could-become-easier-for-women.html

State Senator Wendy Davis Wants to Bring Federal Fair Pay Laws for Women to
Texas
http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2013/02/state_sen_wendy_davis_wants_to.php

Wage gaps destroy employee morale, productivity
http://www.leaderpost.com/business/productiveconversations/Wage+gaps+destroy+employee+morale+productivity/8018636/story.html?__lsa=d85d-e6d9

Here We Go Again: The Long (and Frustrating) Journey of Equal Pay for Women
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marlo-thomas/equal-pay-for-women_b_2678611.html

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-111publ2/html/PLAW-111publ2.htm

 


I hope Jim K will comment on how "research in business schools is becoming increasingly distanced from the reality of business"
"In 2008 Hopwood commented on a number of issues," by Jim Martin, MAAW Blog, June 26, 2013 ---
http://maaw.blogspot.com/2013/06/in-2008-hopwood-commented-on-number-of.html

The first issue below is related to the one addressed by Bennis and O'Toole. According to Hopwood, research in business schools is becoming increasingly distanced from the reality of business. The worlds of practice and research have become ever more separated. More and more accounting and finance researchers know less and less about accounting and finance practice. Other professions such as medicine have avoided this problem so it is not an inevitable development.

Another issue has to do with the status of management accounting. Hopwood tells us that the term management accountant is no longer popular and virtually no one in the U.S. refers to themselves as a management accountant. The body of knowledge formally associated with the term is now linked to a variety of other concepts and job titles. In addition, management accounting is no longer an attractive subject to students in business schools. This is in spite of the fact that many students will be working in positions where a knowledge of management control and systems design issues will be needed. Unfortunately, the present positioning and image of management accounting does not make this known.

Continued in article

June 29, 2013 reply from Zane Swanson

Hi Bob,

A key word of incentive comes up as it relates to the practitioner motivator of the nature of accounting and financing research. The AICPA does give an educator award at the AAA convention and so it isn't as though the practitioners don't care about accounting professorship activity.

Maybe, the "right"' type of incentive needs to be designed. For example, it was not so many years ago that firms developed stock options to align interests of management and investors. Perhaps, a similar option oriented award could be designed to align the interests of research professors and practitioners. Theoretically, practitioners could vest a set of professors for research publications in a pool for a particular year and then grant the exercise of the option several years later with the attainment of a practitioner selected goal level (like HR performance share awards). This approach could meet your calls to get researchers to write "real world" papers and to have follow up replications to prove the point.

However, there are 2 road blocks to this approach. 1 is money for the awards. 2 is determining what the practitioner performance features would be.

You probably would have to determine what practitioners want in terms of research or this whole line of discussion is moot.

The point of this post is: Determining research demand solely by professors choices does not look like it is addressing your "real world" complaints.

Respectfully,
Zane

June 29, 2013 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Zane,

I had a very close friend (now dead) in the Engineering Sciences Department at Trinity University. I asked him why engineering professors seemed to be much closer to their profession than many other departments in the University. He said he thought it was primarily that doctoral students chose engineering because they perhaps were more interested in being problem solvers --- and their profession provided them with an unlimited number of professional problems to be solved. Indeed the majority of Ph.D. graduates in engineering do not even join our Academy. The ones that do are not a whole lot different from the Ph.D. engineers who chose to go into industry except that engineering professors do more teaching.

When they take up research projects, engineering professors tend to be working with government (e.g., the EPA) and and industry (e.g., Boeing) to help solve problems. In many instances they work on grants, but many engineering professors are working on industry problems without grants.

In contrast, accounting faculty don't like to work with practitioners to solve problems. In fact accounting faculty don't like to leave the campus to explore new problems and collect data. The capital markets accounting researchers purchase their databases and them mine the data. The behavioral accounting researchers study their students as surrogates for real world decision makers knowing full well that students are almost always poor surrogates. The analytical accounting researchers simply assume the world away. They don't set foot off campus except to go home at night. I know because I was one of them for nearly all of my career.

Academic accounting researchers submit very little original research work to journals that practitioners read. Even worse a hit in an accounting practitioner journal counts very little for promotion and tenure especially when the submission itself may be too technical to interest any of our AAA journal editors, e.g., an editor told me that the AAA membership was just not interested in technical articles on valuing interest rate swaps, I had to get two very technical papers on accounting for derivative financial instruments published in a practitioner journal (Derivatives Reports) because I was told that these papers were just too technical for AAA journal readers.

Our leading accountics science researchers have one goal in mind --- getting a hit in TAR, JAR, or JAE or one of the secondary academic accounting research journals that will publish accountics research. They give little or no priority to finding and helping to solve problems that practitioners want solved. They have little interest in leaving the ivory tower to collect their own messy real-world data.

Awards and even research grants aren't the answer to making accounting professors more like engineering, medical, and law professors. We need to change the priorities of TAR, JAR, JAE, and other top academic accounting research journals where referees ask hard questions about how the practice of the profession is really helped by the research findings of virtually all submitted articles.

In short, we need to become better problem solvers in a way like engineering, medical, and law professors are problem solvers on the major problems of their professions. A great start would be to change the admissions criteria of our top accounting research journals.

Respectfully,
Bob Jensen

 

Avoiding applied research for practitioners and failure to attract practitioner interest in academic research journals ---
"Why business ignores the business schools," by Michael Skapinker
Some ideas for applied research ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#AcademicsVersusProfession

Essays on the (mostly sad) State of Accounting Scholarship ---
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/AccounticsDamn.htm#Essays

Sue Haka, former AAA President, commenced a thread on the AAA Commons entitled
"Saving Management Accounting in the Academy,"
--- http://commons.aaahq.org/posts/98949b972d
A succession of comments followed.

The latest comment (from James Gong) may be of special interest to some of you.
Ken Merchant is a former faculty member from Harvard University who form many years now has been on the faculty at the University of Southern California.

Here are my two cents. First, on the teaching side, the management accounting textbooks fail to cover new topics or issues. For instance, few textbooks cover real options based capital budgeting, product life cycle management, risk management, and revenue driver analysis. While other disciplines invade management accounting, we need to invade their domains too. About five or six years ago, Ken Merchant had written a few critical comments on Garrison/Noreen textbook for its lack of breadth. Ken's comments are still valid. Second, on the research and publication side, management accounting researchers have disadvantage in getting data and publishing papers compared with financial peers. Again, Ken Merchant has an excellent discussion on this topic at an AAA annual conference.

Bob Jensen's threads on what went wrong in the Accounting Academy
How did academic accounting research become a pseudo science?
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#WhatWentWrong ---
 

June 30, 2013 reply from Zane Swanson

Hi Bob,
  You have expressed your concerns articulately and passionately.  However, in terms of creating value to society in general, your "action plan" of getting the "top" of the profession (editors) to take steps appears unlikely.  As you pointed out, the professors who create articles do it with resources immediately under their control in the most expeditious fashion in order to get tenure, promotion and annual raises.  The editors take what submissions are given.  Thus, it is an endless cycle (a closed loop, a complete circle).  As you noted the engineering profession has different culture with a "make it happen" objective real world.  In comparison with accounting, the prospect of "only" accounting editors from the top dictating research seems questionable.  Your critique suggests that the "entire" accounting research culture needs a paradigm shift of real world action consequences  in order to do what you want.  The required big data shift is probably huge and is a reason that I suggested starting an options alignment mechanism of interests of practitioners and researchers.
 

Respectfully,
Zane

 

June 30, 2013 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Zane,

 

You may be correct that a paradigm shift in accountics research is just not feasible given the generations of econometrics, psychometrics. and mathematical accountics researchers that virtually all of the North American doctoral programs have produced.
 
I think Anthony Hopwood, Paul Williams, and others agree with you that it will take a paradigm shift that just is not going to happen in our leading journals like TAR, JAR, JAE, CAR, etc. Paul, however, thinks we are making some traction, especially since virtually all AAA presidents since Judy Rayburn have made appeals fro a paradigm shift plus the strong conclusions of the Pathways Commission Report. However, that report seems to have fallen on deaf ears as far as accountics scientists are concerned.
 
Other historical scholars like Steve Zeff, Mike Granfof, Bob Kaplan, Judy Rayburn, Sudipta Basu, and think that we can wedge these top journals to just be a bit more open to alternative research methods like were used in the past when practitioners took a keen interest in TAR and even submitted papers to be published in TAR --- alternative methods like case studies, field studies, and normative studies without equations.
 

"We fervently hope that the research pendulum will soon swing back from the narrow lines of inquiry that dominate today's leading journals to a rediscovery of the richness of what accounting research can be. For that to occur, deans and the current generation of academic accountants must give it a push."
Granof and Zeff --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TheoryTAR.htm#Appendix01

Michael H. Granof
is a professor of accounting at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. Stephen A. Zeff is a professor of accounting at the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management at Rice University.

Accounting Scholarship that Advances Professional Knowledge and Practice
Robert S. Kaplan
The Accounting Review, March 2011, Volume 86, Issue 2, 

Recent accounting scholarship has used statistical analysis on asset prices, financial reports and disclosures, laboratory experiments, and surveys of practice. The research has studied the interface among accounting information, capital markets, standard setters, and financial analysts and how managers make accounting choices. But as accounting scholars have focused on understanding how markets and users process accounting data, they have distanced themselves from the accounting process itself. Accounting scholarship has failed to address important measurement and valuation issues that have arisen in the past 40 years of practice. This gap is illustrated with missed opportunities in risk measurement and management and the estimation of the fair value of complex financial securities. This commentary encourages accounting scholars to devote more resources to obtaining a fundamental understanding of contemporary and future practice and how analytic tools and contemporary advances in accounting and related disciplines can be deployed to improve the professional practice of accounting. ©2010 AAA

The videos of the three plenary speakers at the 2010 Annual Meetings in San Francisco are now linked at
http://commons.aaahq.org/hives/531d5280c3/posts?postTypeName=session+video
I think the video is only available to AAA members.

Hi David,
 
Separately and independently, both Steve Kachelmeier (Texas) and Bob Kaplan (Harvard) singled out the Hunton  and Gold (2010) TAR article as being an excellent paradigm shift model in the sense that the data supposedly was captured by practitioners with the intent of jointly working with academic experts in collecting and analyzing the data ---
 
If that data had subsequently not been challenged for integrity (by whom is secret) that Hunton and Gold (2010) research us the type of thing we definitely would like to see more of in accountics research.
 
Unfortunately, this excellent example may have been a bit like Lance Armstrong being such a winner because he did not playing within the rules.
 

For Jim Hunton maybe the world did end on December 21, 2012

"Following Retraction, Bentley Professor Resigns," Inside Higher Ed, December 21, 2012 ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2012/12/21/following-retraction-bentley-professor-resigns

James E. Hunton, a prominent accounting professor at Bentley University, has resigned amid an investigation of the retraction of an article of which he was the co-author, The Boston Globe reported. A spokeswoman cited "family and health reasons" for the departure, but it follows the retraction of an article he co-wrote in the journal Accounting Review. The university is investigating the circumstances that led to the journal's decision to retract the piece.
 

An Accounting Review Article is Retracted

One of the article that Dan mentions has been retracted, according to
http://aaajournals.org/doi/abs/10.2308/accr-10326?af=R 

Retraction: A Field Experiment Comparing the Outcomes of Three Fraud Brainstorming Procedures: Nominal Group, Round Robin, and Open Discussion

James E. Hunton, Anna Gold Bentley University and Erasmus University Erasmus University This article was originally published in 2010 in The Accounting Review 85 (3) 911–935; DOI: 10/2308/accr.2010.85.3.911 

The authors confirmed a misstatement in the article and were unable to provide supporting information requested by the editor and publisher. Accordingly, the article has been retracted.

Jensen Comment
The TAR article retraction in no way detracts from this study being a model to shoot for in order to get accountics researchers more involved with the accounting profession and using their comparative advantages to analyze real world data that is more granulated that the usual practice of beating purchased databases like Compustat with econometric sticks and settling for correlations rather than causes.
 
Respectfully,
 
Bob Jensen

 

 

 


 

Accounting in the 21st Century: : Re-Branding the CPA Profession

September 20, 2010 message from Bob Jensen

Hi Denny,

Yes, I could access the PwC re-branding video directly without having to log in:
http://www.pwc.ch/en/video.html?objects.mid=362&navigationid=3856

I do have a PwC Direct password, but I really doubt that the Switzerland link is using a cookie.

In any case the home page of PwC does not require any login --- http://www.pwc.com/
The video is now on this home page.

This takes me back to the days when Bob Eliott, eventually as President of the AICPA, was proposing great changes in the profession, including SysTrust, WebTrust, Eldercare Assurance, etc. For years I used Bob’s AICPA/KPMG videos as starting points for discussion in my accounting theory course. Bob relied heavily on the analogy of why the railroads that did not adapt to innovations in transportation such as Interstate Highways and Jet Airliners went downhill and not uphill. The railroads simply gave up new opportunities to startup professions rather than adapt from railroading to transportation.

Bob’s underlying assumption was that CPA firms could extend assurance services to non-traditional areas (where they were not experts but could hire new kinds of experts) by leveraging the public image of accountants as having high integrity and professional responsibility. That public image was destroyed by the many auditing scandals, notably Enron and the implosion of Andersen, that surfaced in the late 1990s and beyond ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud001.htm

This is a 1998 lecture given by Bob Eliott before his world (the lofty public perception of CPA firm integrity) collapsed ---
http://newman.baruch.cuny.edu/digital/saxe/saxe_1998/elliott_98.ht

The AICPA commenced initiatives on such things as Systrust. To my knowledge most of these initiatives bit the dust, although some CPA firms might be making money by assuring Eldercare services.

The counter argument to Bob Elliot’s initiatives is that CPA firms had no comparative advantages in expertise in their new ventures just as railroads had few comparative advantages in trucking and airline transportation industries, although the concept of piggy backing of truck trailers eventually caught on.

I still have copies of Bob’s great VCR tapes, but I doubt that these have ever been digitized. Bob could sell refrigerators to Eskimos.

September 21, 2010 reply from Roger Debreceny [roger@DEBRECENY.COM]

Isn't interesting that the pwc video has nothing at all to say about protection of the investor or maintenance of the public interest. It is all about value for the client. The client gets mentioned at least a dozen times -- investors and the public, zero times.

If these are truly the internalized values of the firm, we're sure to have more audit failures in coming years.

<sigh>

Roger

September 22, 2010 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Roger,

 In 1998, Bob Elliott argued that financial audits were destined in the 21st Century to be money losing assurance services ---
http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/library/alumni/online_exhibits/digital/saxe/saxe_1998/elliott_98.htm
This is a great lecture that can be debated in various accounting courses, notably AIS, Ethics, and Auditing courses.

Sarbox (Sarbanes, SOX) revived the profitability of financial audits but possibly not for long as worldwide lawsuits commence to take their toll on the auditing firms.
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud001.htm

A key point made by Bob Elliott is that expansion of assurance services (e.g., SysTrust and Eldercare) is levered on the public image of CPA firms’ high integrity and professional responsibility. After this shining public image of CPA firms’ integrity and professional responsibility was tarnished since the turn of the Century, the question becomes what comparative advantages do CPA firms have that gives them comparative advantage. If you believe Francine, there’s not much left for the largest auditing firms aside from an existing global network of offices, infrastructures, vast teams of lawyers, and whatever is left of a once-shining public image

Bob Jensen

September 22, 2010 reply from Francine McKenna re: The Auditors Blog [retheauditors@GMAIL.COM]

Bob, it's all about branding. If you look at what Deloitte now says on their new boilerplate legal language- they recently converted from Swiss Verein to UK private firm structure - you'll see that brand is king. "Deloitte is a brand..." It begins.

Deloitte has a consulting firm they never shed, PwC wants one bad and is counting on it to grow to pull the rest if the firm up. KPMG is trying to get back in. They were advertising their presence at Oracle Open World user conf. EY seems the only one laying low, but then again I predicted that. Time and money is being spent on lots of litigation and they have the whopper of the day-Lehman. Yes, we are back pre-2000 and no one is doing anything to stop it. In the UK the regulators and media are rattling sabers but in the US nada but me and a few others like Jim Peterson. The PCAOB has no powers to stop acquisitions like BearingPoint and Diamond by PwC that distract them and waste resources that should be spent on training and quality assurance.

Francine

Bob Jensen's threads on auditor independence and professional responsibility ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud001.htm#Professionalism

Bob Jensen's threads on auditor independence and professional responsibility ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud001.htm#Professionalism

 


History of Accountics

Accountics is the mathematical science of values.
Charles Sprague [1887] as quoted by McMillan [1998, p. 1][NH1] 
 

Hi Pat,

Interestingly, the term “accountics” was coined by a Civil War veteran (badly wounded) who practiced accounting in the 19th Century in New York City. He also taught accounting at both Columbia College (now Columbia University) and New York University.

In a 2007 Accounting Historians Journal article, I simply revived the term after nearly 80 years of dormancy ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/395wpTAR/Web/TAR395wp.htm

But accounting history buffs should note that the term “accountics” was a big deal between 1887 and 1925. In particular, heated debates arose regarding whether The Accounting Review should commence in 1925 as an accountics journal for mathematical economists or as a journal for accounting teachers and practitioners.

You can read the following at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/395wpTAR/Web/TAR395wp.htm   


TAR BETWEEN 1926 AND 1955: IGNORING ACCOUNTICS

Accountics is the mathematical science of values.
Charles Sprague [1887] as quoted by McMillan [1998, p. 1][NH1] 

 

Accounting professor Charles Sprague of Columbia University (then called Columbia College) coined the word "accountics" in 1887. The word is not used today in accounting and has some alternative meanings outside our discipline. However, in the early 20th century, accountics was the centerpiece of some unpublished lectures by Sprague. McMillan [1998, p. 11] stated the following:

These claims were not a pragmatic strategy to legitimize the development of sophisticated bookkeeping theories. Rather, this development of a science was seen as revealing long-hidden realities within the economic environment and the double-entry bookkeeping system itself. The science of accounts, through systematic mathematical analysis, could discover hidden thrust of the reality of economic value. The term “accountics” captured the imagination of the members of the IA, connoting advances in bookkeeping that all these men were experiencing.

 

By 1900, there was a journal called Accountics [Forrester, 2003]. Both the journal and the term “accountics” had short lives, but the belief that mathematical analysis and empirical research can “discover hidden thrust of the reality of economic value” (see above)  underlies much of what has been published in TAR over the past three decades. Hence, we propose reviving the term “accountics” to describe the research methods and quantitative analysis tools that have become popular in TAR and other leading accounting research journals. We essentially define accountics as equivalent to the scientific study of values in what Zimmerman [2001, p. 414] called “agency problems, corporate governance, capital asset pricing, capital budgeting, decision analysis, risk management, queuing theory, and statistical audit analysis.”

The American Association of University Instructors of Accounting, which in December 1935 became the American Accounting Association, commenced unofficially in 1915 [Zeff, 1966, p. 5]. It was proposed in October of 1919 that the Association publish a Quarterly Journal of Accountics. This proposed accountics journal never got off the ground as leaders in the Association argued heatedly and fruitlessly about whether accountancy was a science. A quarterly journal called The Accounting Review was subsequently born in 1925, with its first issue being published in March of 1926. Its accountics-like attributes did not commence in earnest until the 1960s.

Practitioner involvement, in a large measure, was the reason for changing the name of the Association by removing the words “of University Instructors.” Practitioners interested in accounting education participated actively in AAA meetings. TAR articles in the first several decades were devoted heavily to education issues and accounting issues in particular industries and trade groups. Research methodologies were mainly normative (without mathematics), case study, and archival (history) methods. Anecdotal evidence and hypothetical illustrations ruled the day. The longest serving editor of TAR was a practitioner named Eric Kohler, who determined what was published in TAR between 1929 and 1943. In those years, when the AAA leadership mandated that TAR focus on the development of accounting principles, publications were oriented to both practitioners and educators, Chatfield [1975, p. 4].

Following World War II, practitioners outnumbered educators in the AAA [Chatfield 1975, p. 4]. Leading partners from accounting firms took pride in publishing papers and books intended to inspire scholarship among professors and students. Over the years, some practitioners, particularly those with scholarly publications, were admitted into the Accounting Hall of Fame founded by The Ohio State University. Prior to the 1960s, accounting educators were generally long on practical experience and short on academic credentials such as doctoral degrees.

A major catalyst for change in accounting research occurred when the Ford Foundation poured millions of dollars into the study of collegiate business schools and the funding of doctoral programs and students in business studies. Gordon and Howell [1959] reported that business faculty in colleges lacked research skills and academic esteem when compared to their colleagues in the sciences. The Ford Foundation thereafter provided funding for doctoral programs and for top quality graduate students to pursue doctoral degrees in business and accountancy. The Foundation even funded publication of selected doctoral dissertations to give doctoral studies in business more visibility. Great pressures were also brought to bear on academic associations like the AAA to increase the scientific standards for publications in journals like TAR.

TAR BETWEEN 1956 AND 1985: NURTURING OF ACCOUNTICS

A perfect storm for change in accounting research arose in the late 1950s and early1960s. First came the critical Pierson Carnegie Report [1959] and the Gordon and Howell Ford Foundation Report [1959]. Shortly thereafter, the AACSB introduced a requirement requiring that a certain percentage of faculty possess doctoral degrees for business education programs seeking accreditation [Bricker and Previts, 1990]. Soon afterwards, both a doctorate and publication in top accounting research journals became necessary for tenure [Langenderfer, 1987].

A second component of this perfect storm for change was the proliferation of mainframe computers, the development of analytical software (e.g., early SPSS for mainframes), and the dawning of management and decision “sciences.” The third huge stimulus for changed research is rooted in portfolio theory discovered by Harry Markowitz in1952 that became the core of his dissertation at Princeton University, which  was published in book form in 1959. This theory eventually gave birth to the Nobel Prize winning Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) and a new era of capital market research. A fourth stimulus was when the CRSP stock price tapes became available from the University of Chicago. The availability of CRSP led to a high number of TAR articles on capital market event studies (e.g., earnings announcements on trading prices and volumes) covering a period of nearly 40 years.

This “perfect storm” roared into nearly all accounting and finance research and turned academic accounting research into an accountics-centered science of values and mathematical/statistical analysis. After 1960, there was a shift in TAR, albeit slow at first, toward preferences for quantitative model building --- econometric models in capital market studies, time series models in forecasting, advanced calculus information science, information economics, analytical models, and psychometric behavioral models. Chatfield [1975, p. 6] wrote the following:

Beginning in the 1960s the Review published many more articles by non-accountants, whose contribution involved showing how ideas or methods from their own discipline could be used to solve particular accounting problems. The more successful adaptations included matrix theory, mathematical model building, organization theory, linear programming, and Bayesian analysis.

 

TAR was not alone in moving toward a more quantitative focus. Accountics methodologies accompanied similar quantitative model building preferences in finance, marketing, management science, decision science, operations research, information economics, computer science, and information systems. Early changes along these lines began to appear in other leading research journals between 1956-1965, with some mathematical modeling papers noted by Dyckman and Zeff [1984, p. 229]. Fleming, Graci and Thompson [2000, p. 43] documented additional emphasis on quantitative methodology between 1966 and 1985. In particular, they note how tenure requirements began to change and asserted the following:

The Accounting Review evolved into a journal with demanding acceptance standards whose leading authors were highly educated accounting academics who, to a large degree, brought methods and tools from other disciplines to bear upon accounting issues.

 

A number of new academic accountancy journals were launched in the early 1960s, including the Journal of Accounting Research (1963), Abacus (1965) and The International Journal of Accounting Education and Research (1965). Clinging to its traditional normative roots and trade-article style would have made TAR appear to be a journal for academic luddites. Actually, many of the new mathematical approaches to theory development were fundamentally normative, but they were couched in the formidable language and rigors of mathematics. Publication of papers in traditional normative theory, history, and systems slowly ground to almost zero in the new age of accountics.

These new spearheads in accountics were not without problems. It is both humorous and sad to go back and discover how naïve and misleading some of TAR’s bold and high risk thrusts were in quantitative methods. Statistical models were employed without regard to underlying assumptions of independence, temporal stationarity, multicollinearity, homoscedasticity, missing variables, and departures from the normal distribution. Mathematical applications were proposed for real-world systems that failed to meet continuity and non-convexity assumptions inherent in models such as linear programming and calculus optimizations. Some proposed applications of finite mathematics and discrete (integer) programming failed because the fastest computers in the world, then and now, could not solve most realistic integer programming problems in less than 100 years.

After financial databases provided a beta covariance of each security in a portfolio with the market portfolio, many capital market events studies were published by TAR and other leading accounting journals. In the early years, accounting researchers did not challenge the CAPM’s assumptions and limitations --- limitations that, in retrospect, cast doubt upon many of the findings based upon any single index of market risk [Fama and French, 1992].

Leading accounting professors lamented TAR’s preference for rigor over relevancy [Zeff, 1978; Lee, 1997; and Williams, 1985 and 2003]. Sundem [1987] provides revealing information about the changed perceptions of authors, almost entirely from academe, who submitted manuscripts for review between June 1982 and May 1986. Among the 1,148 submissions, only 39 used archival (history) methods; 34 of those submissions were rejected. Another 34 submissions used survey methods; 33 of those were rejected. And 100 submissions used traditional normative (deductive) methods with 85 of those being rejected. Except for a small set of 28 manuscripts classified as using “other” methods (mainly descriptive empirical according to Sundem), the remaining larger subset of submitted manuscripts used methods that Sundem [1987, p. 199] classified these as follows:

292          General Empirical

172          Behavioral

135          Analytical modeling

119          Capital Market

  97          Economic modeling

  40          Statistical modeling

  29          Simulation

 

It is clear that by 1982, accounting researchers realized that having mathematical or statistical analysis in TAR submissions made accountics virtually a necessary, albeit not sufficient, condition for acceptance for publication. It became increasingly difficult for a single editor to have expertise in all of the above methods. In the late 1960s, editorial decisions on publication shifted from the TAR editor alone to the TAR editor in conjunction with specialized referees and eventually associate editors [Flesher, 1991, p. 167]. Fleming et al. [2000, p. 45] wrote the following:

The big change was in research methods. Modeling and empirical methods became prominent during 1966-1985, with analytical modeling and general empirical methods leading the way. Although used to a surprising extent, deductive-type methods declined in popularity, especially in the second half of the 1966-1985 period.

 

We were surprised that there was no reduction in accountics dominance in TAR since 1986 in spite of changes in the environment such as the explosion of communications networking, interacting relational databases, and sophisticated accounting information systems (AIS).Virtually no AIS papers were published in TAR between 1986 and 2005. This practice was changed in 2006 by the appointment of a new AIS associate editor to encourage publication of some AIS papers that often do not fit neatly into the accountics mold. In an interesting aside, we note that the AAA has become a leading international association of accounting educators. Sundem [1987] reported that about 12 percent of the manuscripts submitted came from outside of North America. The American Accounting Association is an international association that provides publication opportunities to all members, and manuscripts are submitted from many parts of the world. In our opinion, this contributed significantly to the rise in accountics studies worldwide.

A major change at TAR took place in the 1980s with the creation of new AAA journals to relieve TAR of publishing articles that were less accountics-oriented. Prior to 1983, TAR was the leading academic journal for teachers of accounting as well as practitioners. Numerous TAR papers appeared on how to improve accounting education and teaching. In an effort to better serve educators, the AAA created a specialty journal called Issues in Accounting Education, first published in 1983. A journal aimed more at issues facing practitioners was inaugurated in 1987 under the name Accounting Horizons. Around this time, the AAA also granted permission for specialty “sections” to be formed for sub-disciplines of accounting, which resulted in additional new journals. These new journals allowed TAR to focus more heavily on quantitative papers that became increasingly difficult for practitioners and many teachers of accounting to comprehend.

Fleming et al. [2000, p. 48] report that education articles in TAR declined from 21 percent in 1946-1965 to 8 percent in 1966-1985. Issues in Accounting Education began to publish the education articles in 1983. Garcha, Harwood, and Hermanson [1983] reported on the readership of TAR before any new specialty journals commenced in the AAA. They found that among their AAA membership respondents, only 41.7 percent would subscribe to TAR if it became unbundled in terms of dollar savings from AAA membership dues. This suggests that TAR was not meeting the AAA membership’s needs. Based heavily upon the written comments of respondents, the authors’ conclusions were, in part, as follows by Garcha, Harwood, and Hermanson [1983, p. 37]:

The findings of the survey reveal that opinions vary regarding TAR and that emotions run high. At one extreme some respondents seem to believe that TAR is performing its intended function very well. Those sharing this view may believe that its mission is to provide a high-quality outlet for those at the cutting-edge of accounting research. The pay-off for this approach may be recognition by peers, achieving tenure and promotion, and gaining mobility should one care to move. This group may also believe that trying to affect current practice is futile anyway, so why even try?


 

At the other extreme are those who believe that TAR is not serving its intended purpose. This group may believe TAR should serve the readership interests of the audiences identified by the Moonitz Committee. Many in the intended audience cannot write for, cannot read, or are not interested in reading the Main Articles which have been published during approximately the last decade. As a result there is the suggestion that this group believes that a change in editorial policy is needed.

 

After a study by Abdel-khalik [1976] revealed complaints about the difficulties of following the increased quantitative terminology in TAR, editors did introduce abstracts at the beginning of the articles to summarize major findings with less jargon [Flesher, 1991, p. 169]. However, the problem was simultaneously exacerbated when TAR stopped publishing commentaries and rebuttals that sometimes aided comprehension of complicated research. Science journals often are much better about encouraging commentaries, replications, and rebuttals.
 

TAR BETWEEN 1986 AND 2005: MATURATION OF ACCOUNTICS

We pointed out earlier in Table 2 how the numbers of authors having five or more appearances in twenty-year time spans has markedly declined over the entire 80-year life of TAR. Table 4 lists the most recent top authors for the 1986-2005 period. In contrast to Heck and Bremser [1986] findings, the likelihood that any single author will have more than five appearances is greatly reduced in more recent times.


Continued at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/395wpTAR/Web/TAR395wp.htm   

 


Research at the University of Rochester ---  https://urresearch.rochester.edu/home.action

Jensen Comment
Note that this site includes a long listing of research in accounting, finance, and economics, much of it based on positivism and financial markets.


Michael Jensen --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Jensen

Maximizing Shareholder Value --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shareholder_value#Maximizing_shareholder_value

"Why the “Maximizing Shareholder Value” Theory of Corporate Governance is Bogus," Naked Capitalism, October 21, 2013 ---
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/10/why-the-maximizing-shareholder-value-theory-of-corporate-governance-is-bogus.html

. . .

So how did this “the last shall come first” thinking become established? You can blame it all on economists, specifically Harvard Business School’s Michael Jensen. In other words, this idea did not come out of legal analysis, changes in regulation, or court decisions. It was simply an academic theory that went mainstream. And to add insult to injury, the version of the Jensen formula that became popular was its worst possible embodiment.

A terrific 2010 paper by Frank Dobbin and Jiwook Jung, “The Misapplication of Mr. Michael Jensen: How Agency Theory Brought Down the Economy and Might Do It Again,” explains how this line of thinking went mainstream. I strongly suggest you read it in full, but I’ll give a brief recap for the time-pressed.

In the 1970s, there was a great deal of hand-wringing in America as Japanese and German manufacturers were eating American’s lunch. That led to renewed examination of how US companies were managed, with lots of theorizing about what went wrong and what the remedies might be. In 1976, Jensen and William Meckling asserted that the problem was that corporate executives served their own interests rather than those of shareholders, in other words, that there was an agency problem. Executives wanted to build empires while shareholders wanted profits to be maximized.

I strongly suspect that if Jensen and Meckling had not come out with this line of thinking, you would have gotten something similar to justify the actions of the leveraged buyout kings, who were just getting started in the 1970s and were reshaping the corporate landscape by the mid-1980s. They were doing many of the things Jensen and Meckling recommended: breaking up multi-business companies, thinning out corporate centers, and selling corporate assets (some of which were clearly excess, like corporate art and jet collection, while other sales were simply to increase leverage, like selling corporate office buildings and leasing them back). In other words, a likely reason that Jensen and Meckling’s theory gained traction was it appeared to validate a fundamental challenge to incumbent managements. (Dobbin and Jung attribute this trend, as pretty much everyone does, to Jensen because he continued to develop it. What really put it on the map was a 1990 Harvard Business Review article, “It’s Not What You Pay CEOs, but How,” that led to an explosion in the use of option-based pay and resulted in a huge increase in CEO pay relative to that of average workers.)

To forestall takeovers, many companies implemented the measures an LBO artist might take before his invading army arrived: sell off non-core divisions, borrow more, shed staff.

The problem was to the extent that the Jensen/Meckling prescription had merit, only the parts that helped company executives were adopted. Jensen didn’t just call on executives to become less ministerial and more entrepreneurial; they also called for more independent and engaged boards to oversee and discipline top managers, and more equity-driven pay, both options and other equity-linked compensation, to make management more sensitive to both upside and downside risks.

Over the next two decades, companies levered up, became more short-term oriented, and executive pay levels exploded. As Dobbin and Jung put it, “The result of the changes promoted by agency theory was that by the late 1990s, corporate America’s leaders were drag racing without the brakes.”

The paper proceeds to analyze in considerable detail how three of the major prescriptions of “agency theory” aka “executives and boards should maximize value,” namely, pay for (mythical) performance, dediversification, and greater reliance on debt all increased risk. And the authors also detail how efforts to improve oversight were ineffective.

But the paper also makes clear that this vision of how companies should be run was simply a new management fashion, as opposed to any sort of legal requirement:

Organizational institutionalists have long argued that new management practices diffuse through networks of firms like fads spread through high schools….In their models, new paradigms are socially constructed as appropriate solutions to perceived problems or crises….Expert groups that stand to gain from having their preferred strategies adopted by firms then enter the void, competing to have their model adopted….

And as Dobbin and Jung point out, the parts of the Jensen formula that got adopted were the one that had constituents. The ones that promoted looting and short-termism had obvious followings. The ones for prudent management didn’t.

And consider the implications of Jensen’s prescriptions, of pushing companies to favor shareholders, when they actually stand at the back of the line from a legal perspective. The result is that various agents (board compensation consultants, management consultants, and cronyistic boards themselves) have put incentives in place for CEOs to favor shareholders over parties that otherwise should get better treatment. So is it any surprise that companies treat employees like toilet paper, squeeze vendors, lobby hard for tax breaks and to weaken regulations, and worse, like fudge their financial reports? Jensen himself, in 2005, repudiated his earlier prescription precisely because it led to fraud. From an interview with the New York Times:

Q. So the maximum stock price is the holy grail?

A. Absolutely not. Warren Buffett says he worries as much when one of his companies becomes overvalued as undervalued. I agree. Overvalued equity is managerial heroin – it feels really great when you start out; you’re feted on television; investment bankers vie to float new issues.

But it doesn’t take long before the elation and ecstasy turn into enormous pain. The market starts demanding increased earnings and revenues, and the managers begin to say: “Holy Moley! How are we going to generate the returns?” They look for legal loopholes in the accounting, and when those don’t work, even basically honest people move around the corner to outright fraud.

If they hold a lot of stock or options themselves, it is like pouring gasoline on a fire. They fudge the numbers and hope they can sell the stock or exercise the options before anything hits the fan.

Q. Are you suggesting that executives be rewarded for driving down the price of the stock?

A. I’m saying they should be rewarded for being honest. A C.E.O. should be able to tell investors, “Listen, this company isn’t worth its $70 billion market cap; it’s really worth $30 billion, and here’s why.”

But the board would fire that executive immediately. I guess it has to be preventative – if executives would present the market with realistic numbers rather than overoptimistic expectations, the stock price would stay realistic. But I admit, we scholars don’t yet know the real answer to how to make this happen.

So having led Corporate America in the wrong direction, Jensen ‘fesses up no one knows the way out. But if executives weren’t incentivized to take such a topsy-turvey shareholder-driven view of the world, they’d weigh their obligations to other constituencies, including the community at large, along with earning shareholders a decent return. But it’s now become so institutionalized it’s hard to see how to move to a more sensible regime. For instance, analysts regularly try pressuring Costco to pay its workers less, wanting fatter margins. But the comparatively high wages are an integral part of Costco’s formula: it reduces costly staff turnover and employee pilferage. And Costco’s upscale members report they prefer to patronize a store they know treats workers better than Walmart and other discounters. If managers with an established, successful formulas still encounter pressure from the Street to strip mine their companies, imagine how hard it is for struggling companies or less secure top executives to implement strategies that will take a while to reap rewards. I’ve been getting reports from McKinsey from the better part of a decade that they simply can’t get their clients to implement new initiatives if they’ll dent quarterly returns.

This governance system is actually in crisis, but the extraordinary profit share that companies have managed to achieve by squeezing workers and the asset-goosing success of post-crisis financial policies have produced an illusion of health. But porcine maquillage only improves appearances; it doesn’t mask the stench of gangrene. Nevertheless, executives have successfully hidden the generally unhealthy state of their companies. As long as they have cheerleading analysts, complacent boards and the Fed protecting their back, they can likely continue to inflict more damage, using “maximizing shareholder value” canard as the cover for continuing rent extraction.


Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/10/why-the-maximizing-shareholder-value-theory-of-corporate-governance-is-bogus.html#ehj10weqAL2vdXkh.99
So how did this “the last shall come first” thinking become established? You can blame it all on economists, specifically Harvard Business School’s Michael Jensen. In other words, this idea did not come out of legal analysis, changes in regulation, or court decisions. It was simply an academic theory that went mainstream. And to add insult to injury, the version of the Jensen formula that became popular was its worst possible embodiment.

A terrific 2010 paper by Frank Dobbin and Jiwook Jung, “The Misapplication of Mr. Michael Jensen: How Agency Theory Brought Down the Economy and Might Do It Again,” explains how this line of thinking went mainstream. I strongly suggest you read it in full, but I’ll give a brief recap for the time-pressed.

In the 1970s, there was a great deal of hand-wringing in America as Japanese and German manufacturers were eating American’s lunch. That led to renewed examination of how US companies were managed, with lots of theorizing about what went wrong and what the remedies might be. In 1976, Jensen and William Meckling asserted that the problem was that corporate executives served their own interests rather than those of shareholders, in other words, that there was an agency problem. Executives wanted to build empires while shareholders wanted profits to be maximized.

I strongly suspect that if Jensen and Meckling had not come out with this line of thinking, you would have gotten something similar to justify the actions of the leveraged buyout kings, who were just getting started in the 1970s and were reshaping the corporate landscape by the mid-1980s. They were doing many of the things Jensen and Meckling recommended: breaking up multi-business companies, thinning out corporate centers, and selling corporate assets (some of which were clearly excess, like corporate art and jet collection, while other sales were simply to increase leverage, like selling corporate office buildings and leasing them back). In other words, a likely reason that Jensen and Meckling’s theory gained traction was it appeared to validate a fundamental challenge to incumbent managements. (Dobbin and Jung attribute this trend, as pretty much everyone does, to Jensen because he continued to develop it. What really put it on the map was a 1990 Harvard Business Review article, “It’s Not What You Pay CEOs, but How,” that led to an explosion in the use of option-based pay and resulted in a huge increase in CEO pay relative to that of average workers.)

To forestall takeovers, many companies implemented the measures an LBO artist might take before his invading army arrived: sell off non-core divisions, borrow more, shed staff.

The problem was to the extent that the Jensen/Meckling prescription had merit, only the parts that helped company executives were adopted. Jensen didn’t just call on executives to become less ministerial and more entrepreneurial; they also called for more independent and engaged boards to oversee and discipline top managers, and more equity-driven pay, both options and other equity-linked compensation, to make management more sensitive to both upside and downside risks.

Over the next two decades, companies levered up, became more short-term oriented, and executive pay levels exploded. As Dobbin and Jung put it, “The result of the changes promoted by agency theory was that by the late 1990s, corporate America’s leaders were drag racing without the brakes.”

The paper proceeds to analyze in considerable detail how three of the major prescriptions of “agency theory” aka “executives and boards should maximize value,” namely, pay for (mythical) performance, dediversification, and greater reliance on debt all increased risk. And the authors also detail how efforts to improve oversight were ineffective.

But the paper also makes clear that this vision of how companies should be run was simply a new management fashion, as opposed to any sort of legal requirement:

Organizational institutionalists have long argued that new management practices diffuse through networks of firms like fads spread through high schools….In their models, new paradigms are socially constructed as appropriate solutions to perceived problems or crises….Expert groups that stand to gain from having their preferred strategies adopted by firms then enter the void, competing to have their model adopted….

And as Dobbin and Jung point out, the parts of the Jensen formula that got adopted were the one that had constituents. The ones that promoted looting and short-termism had obvious followings. The ones for prudent management didn’t.

And consider the implications of Jensen’s prescriptions, of pushing companies to favor shareholders, when they actually stand at the back of the line from a legal perspective. The result is that various agents (board compensation consultants, management consultants, and cronyistic boards themselves) have put incentives in place for CEOs to favor shareholders over parties that otherwise should get better treatment. So is it any surprise that companies treat employees like toilet paper, squeeze vendors, lobby hard for tax breaks and to weaken regulations, and worse, like fudge their financial reports? Jensen himself, in 2005, repudiated his earlier prescription precisely because it led to fraud. From an interview with the New York Times:

Q. So the maximum stock price is the holy grail?

A. Absolutely not. Warren Buffett says he worries as much when one of his companies becomes overvalued as undervalued. I agree. Overvalued equity is managerial heroin – it feels really great when you start out; you’re feted on television; investment bankers vie to float new issues.

But it doesn’t take long before the elation and ecstasy turn into enormous pain. The market starts demanding increased earnings and revenues, and the managers begin to say: “Holy Moley! How are we going to generate the returns?” They look for legal loopholes in the accounting, and when those don’t work, even basically honest people move around the corner to outright fraud.

If they hold a lot of stock or options themselves, it is like pouring gasoline on a fire. They fudge the numbers and hope they can sell the stock or exercise the options before anything hits the fan.

Q. Are you suggesting that executives be rewarded for driving down the price of the stock?

A. I’m saying they should be rewarded for being honest. A C.E.O. should be able to tell investors, “Listen, this company isn’t worth its $70 billion market cap; it’s really worth $30 billion, and here’s why.”

But the board would fire that executive immediately. I guess it has to be preventative – if executives would present the market with realistic numbers rather than overoptimistic expectations, the stock price would stay realistic. But I admit, we scholars don’t yet know the real answer to how to make this happen.

So having led Corporate America in the wrong direction, Jensen ‘fesses up no one knows the way out. But if executives weren’t incentivized to take such a topsy-turvey shareholder-driven view of the world, they’d weigh their obligations to other constituencies, including the community at large, along with earning shareholders a decent return. But it’s now become so institutionalized it’s hard to see how to move to a more sensible regime. For instance, analysts regularly try pressuring Costco to pay its workers less, wanting fatter margins. But the comparatively high wages are an integral part of Costco’s formula: it reduces costly staff turnover and employee pilferage. And Costco’s upscale members report they prefer to patronize a store they know treats workers better than Walmart and other discounters. If managers with an established, successful formulas still encounter pressure from the Street to strip mine their companies, imagine how hard it is for struggling companies or less secure top executives to implement strategies that will take a while to reap rewards. I’ve been getting reports from McKinsey from the better part of a decade that they simply can’t get their clients to implement new initiatives if they’ll dent quarterly returns.

This governance system is actually in crisis, but the extraordinary profit share that companies have managed to achieve by squeezing workers and the asset-goosing success of post-crisis financial policies have produced an illusion of health. But porcine maquillage only improves appearances; it doesn’t mask the stench of gangrene. Nevertheless, executives have successfully hidden the generally unhealthy state of their companies. As long as they have cheerleading analysts, complacent boards and the Fed protecting their back, they can likely continue to inflict more damage, using “maximizing shareholder value” canard as the cover for continuing rent extraction.


Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/10/why-the-maximizing-shareholder-value-theory-of-corporate-governance-is-bogus.html#ehj10weqAL2vdXkh.99
So how did this “the last shall come first” thinking become established? You can blame it all on economists, specifically Harvard Business School’s Michael Jensen. In other words, this idea did not come out of legal analysis, changes in regulation, or court decisions. It was simply an academic theory that went mainstream. And to add insult to injury, the version of the Jensen formula that became popular was its worst possible embodiment.

A terrific 2010 paper by Frank Dobbin and Jiwook Jung, “The Misapplication of Mr. Michael Jensen: How Agency Theory Brought Down the Economy and Might Do It Again,” explains how this line of thinking went mainstream. I strongly suggest you read it in full, but I’ll give a brief recap for the time-pressed.

In the 1970s, there was a great deal of hand-wringing in America as Japanese and German manufacturers were eating American’s lunch. That led to renewed examination of how US companies were managed, with lots of theorizing about what went wrong and what the remedies might be. In 1976, Jensen and William Meckling asserted that the problem was that corporate executives served their own interests rather than those of shareholders, in other words, that there was an agency problem. Executives wanted to build empires while shareholders wanted profits to be maximized.

I strongly suspect that if Jensen and Meckling had not come out with this line of thinking, you would have gotten something similar to justify the actions of the leveraged buyout kings, who were just getting started in the 1970s and were reshaping the corporate landscape by the mid-1980s. They were doing many of the things Jensen and Meckling recommended: breaking up multi-business companies, thinning out corporate centers, and selling corporate assets (some of which were clearly excess, like corporate art and jet collection, while other sales were simply to increase leverage, like selling corporate office buildings and leasing them back). In other words, a likely reason that Jensen and Meckling’s theory gained traction was it appeared to validate a fundamental challenge to incumbent managements. (Dobbin and Jung attribute this trend, as pretty much everyone does, to Jensen because he continued to develop it. What really put it on the map was a 1990 Harvard Business Review article, “It’s Not What You Pay CEOs, but How,” that led to an explosion in the use of option-based pay and resulted in a huge increase in CEO pay relative to that of average workers.)

To forestall takeovers, many companies implemented the measures an LBO artist might take before his invading army arrived: sell off non-core divisions, borrow more, shed staff.

The problem was to the extent that the Jensen/Meckling prescription had merit, only the parts that helped company executives were adopted. Jensen didn’t just call on executives to become less ministerial and more entrepreneurial; they also called for more independent and engaged boards to oversee and discipline top managers, and more equity-driven pay, both options and other equity-linked compensation, to make management more sensitive to both upside and downside risks.

Over the next two decades, companies levered up, became more short-term oriented, and executive pay levels exploded. As Dobbin and Jung put it, “The result of the changes promoted by agency theory was that by the late 1990s, corporate America’s leaders were drag racing without the brakes.”

The paper proceeds to analyze in considerable detail how three of the major prescriptions of “agency theory” aka “executives and boards should maximize value,” namely, pay for (mythical) performance, dediversification, and greater reliance on debt all increased risk. And the authors also detail how efforts to improve oversight were ineffective.

But the paper also makes clear that this vision of how companies should be run was simply a new management fashion, as opposed to any sort of legal requirement:

Organizational institutionalists have long argued that new management practices diffuse through networks of firms like fads spread through high schools….In their models, new paradigms are socially constructed as appropriate solutions to perceived problems or crises….Expert groups that stand to gain from having their preferred strategies adopted by firms then enter the void, competing to have their model adopted….

And as Dobbin and Jung point out, the parts of the Jensen formula that got adopted were the one that had constituents. The ones that promoted looting and short-termism had obvious followings. The ones for prudent management didn’t.

And consider the implications of Jensen’s prescriptions, of pushing companies to favor shareholders, when they actually stand at the back of the line from a legal perspective. The result is that various agents (board compensation consultants, management consultants, and cronyistic boards themselves) have put incentives in place for CEOs to favor shareholders over parties that otherwise should get better treatment. So is it any surprise that companies treat employees like toilet paper, squeeze vendors, lobby hard for tax breaks and to weaken regulations, and worse, like fudge their financial reports? Jensen himself, in 2005, repudiated his earlier prescription precisely because it led to fraud. From an interview with the New York Times:

Q. So the maximum stock price is the holy grail?

A. Absolutely not. Warren Buffett says he worries as much when one of his companies becomes overvalued as undervalued. I agree. Overvalued equity is managerial heroin – it feels really great when you start out; you’re feted on television; investment bankers vie to float new issues.

But it doesn’t take long before the elation and ecstasy turn into enormous pain. The market starts demanding increased earnings and revenues, and the managers begin to say: “Holy Moley! How are we going to generate the returns?” They look for legal loopholes in the accounting, and when those don’t work, even basically honest people move around the corner to outright fraud.

If they hold a lot of stock or options themselves, it is like pouring gasoline on a fire. They fudge the numbers and hope they can sell the stock or exercise the options before anything hits the fan.

Q. Are you suggesting that executives be rewarded for driving down the price of the stock?

A. I’m saying they should be rewarded for being honest. A C.E.O. should be able to tell investors, “Listen, this company isn’t worth its $70 billion market cap; it’s really worth $30 billion, and here’s why.”

But the board would fire that executive immediately. I guess it has to be preventative – if executives would present the market with realistic numbers rather than overoptimistic expectations, the stock price would stay realistic. But I admit, we scholars don’t yet know the real answer to how to make this happen.

So having led Corporate America in the wrong direction, Jensen ‘fesses up no one knows the way out. But if executives weren’t incentivized to take such a topsy-turvey shareholder-driven view of the world, they’d weigh their obligations to other constituencies, including the community at large, along with earning shareholders a decent return. But it’s now become so institutionalized it’s hard to see how to move to a more sensible regime. For instance, analysts regularly try pressuring Costco to pay its workers less, wanting fatter margins. But the comparatively high wages are an integral part of Costco’s formula: it reduces costly staff turnover and employee pilferage. And Costco’s upscale members report they prefer to patronize a store they know treats workers better than Walmart and other discounters. If managers with an established, successful formulas still encounter pressure from the Street to strip mine their companies, imagine how hard it is for struggling companies or less secure top executives to implement strategies that will take a while to reap rewards. I’ve been getting reports from McKinsey from the better part of a decade that they simply can’t get their clients to implement new initiatives if they’ll dent quarterly returns.

This governance system is actually in crisis, but the extraordinary profit share that companies have managed to achieve by squeezing workers and the asset-goosing success of post-crisis financial policies have produced an illusion of health. But porcine maquillage only improves appearances; it doesn’t mask the stench of gangrene. Nevertheless, executives have successfully hidden the generally unhealthy state of their companies. As long as they have cheerleading analysts, complacent boards and the Fed protecting their back, they can likely continue to inflict more damage, using “maximizing shareholder value” canard as the cover for continuing rent extraction.


Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/10/why-the-maximizing-shareholder-value-theory-of-corporate-governance-is-bogus.html#ehj10weqAL2vdXkh.99

So how did this “the last shall come first” thinking become established? You can blame it all on economists, specifically Harvard Business School’s Michael Jensen. In other words, this idea did not come out of legal analysis, changes in regulation, or court decisions. It was simply an academic theory that went mainstream. And to add insult to injury, the version of the Jensen formula that became popular was its worst possible embodiment.

A terrific 2010 paper by Frank Dobbin and Jiwook Jung, The Misapplication of Mr. Michael Jensen: How Agency Theory Brought Down the Economy and Might Do It Again,” explains how this line of thinking went mainstream. I strongly suggest you read it in full, but I’ll give a brief recap for the time-pressed.

In the 1970s, there was a great deal of hand-wringing in America as Japanese and German manufacturers were eating American’s lunch. That led to renewed examination of how US companies were managed, with lots of theorizing about what went wrong and what the remedies might be. In 1976, Jensen and William Meckling asserted that the problem was that corporate executives served their own interests rather than those of shareholders, in other words, that there was an agency problem. Executives wanted to build empires while shareholders wanted profits to be maximized.

I strongly suspect that if Jensen and Meckling had not come out with this line of thinking, you would have gotten something similar to justify the actions of the leveraged buyout kings, who were just getting started in the 1970s and were reshaping the corporate landscape by the mid-1980s. They were doing many of the things Jensen and Meckling recommended: breaking up multi-business companies, thinning out corporate centers, and selling corporate assets (some of which were clearly excess, like corporate art and jet collection, while other sales were simply to increase leverage, like selling corporate office buildings and leasing them back). In other words, a likely reason that Jensen and Meckling’s theory gained traction was it appeared to validate a fundamental challenge to incumbent managements. (Dobbin and Jung attribute this trend, as pretty much everyone does, to Jensen because he continued to develop it. What really put it on the map was a 1990 Harvard Business Review article, It’s Not What You Pay CEOs, but How,” that led to an explosion in the use of option-based pay and resulted in a huge increase in CEO pay relative to that of average workers.)

To forestall takeovers, many companies implemented the measures an LBO artist might take before his invading army arrived: sell off non-core divisions, borrow more, shed staff.

The problem was to the extent that the Jensen/Meckling prescription had merit, only the parts that helped company executives were adopted. Jensen didn’t just call on executives to become less ministerial and more entrepreneurial; they also called for more independent and engaged boards to oversee and discipline top managers, and more equity-driven pay, both options and other equity-linked compensation, to make management more sensitive to both upside and downside risks.

Over the next two decades, companies levered up, became more short-term oriented, and executive pay levels exploded. As Dobbin and Jung put it, “The result of the changes promoted by agency theory was that by the late 1990s, corporate America’s leaders were drag racing without the brakes.”

The paper proceeds to analyze in considerable detail how three of the major prescriptions of “agency theory” aka “executives and boards should maximize value,” namely, pay for (mythical) performance, dediversification, and greater reliance on debt all increased risk. And the authors also detail how efforts to improve oversight were ineffective.

But the paper also makes clear that this vision of how companies should be run was simply a new management fashion, as opposed to any sort of legal requirement:

Organizational institutionalists have long argued that new management practices diffuse through networks of firms like fads spread through high schools….In their models, new paradigms are socially constructed as appropriate solutions to perceived problems or crises….Expert groups that stand to gain from having their preferred strategies adopted by firms then enter the void, competing to have their model adopted….

And as Dobbin and Jung point out, the parts of the Jensen formula that got adopted were the one that had constituents. The ones that promoted looting and short-termism had obvious followings. The ones for prudent management didn’t.

And consider the implications of Jensen’s prescriptions, of pushing companies to favor shareholders, when they actually stand at the back of the line from a legal perspective. The result is that various agents (board compensation consultants, management consultants, and cronyistic boards themselves) have put incentives in place for CEOs to favor shareholders over parties that otherwise should get better treatment. So is it any surprise that companies treat employees like toilet paper, squeeze vendors, lobby hard for tax breaks and to weaken regulations, and worse, like fudge their financial reports? Jensen himself, in 2005, repudiated his earlier prescription precisely because it led to fraud. From an interview with the New York Times:

Q. So the maximum stock price is the holy grail?

A. Absolutely not. Warren Buffett says he worries as much when one of his companies becomes overvalued as undervalued. I agree. Overvalued equity is managerial heroin – it feels really great when you start out; you’re feted on television; investment bankers vie to float new issues.

But it doesn’t take long before the elation and ecstasy turn into enormous pain. The market starts demanding increased earnings and revenues, and the managers begin to say: “Holy Moley! How are we going to generate the returns?” They look for legal loopholes in the accounting, and when those don’t work, even basically honest people move around the corner to outright fraud.

If they hold a lot of stock or options themselves, it is like pouring gasoline on a fire. They fudge the numbers and hope they can sell the stock or exercise the options before anything hits the fan.

Q. Are you suggesting that executives be rewarded for driving down the price of the stock?

A. I’m saying they should be rewarded for being honest. A C.E.O. should be able to tell investors, “Listen, this company isn’t worth its $70 billion market cap; it’s really worth $30 billion, and here’s why.”

But the board would fire that executive immediately. I guess it has to be preventative – if executives would present the market with realistic numbers rather than overoptimistic expectations, the stock price would stay realistic. But I admit, we scholars don’t yet know the real answer to how to make this happen.

So having led Corporate America in the wrong direction, Jensen ‘fesses up no one knows the way out. But if executives weren’t incentivized to take such a topsy-turvey shareholder-driven view of the world, they’d weigh their obligations to other constituencies, including the community at large, along with earning shareholders a decent return. But it’s now become so institutionalized it’s hard to see how to move to a more sensible regime. For instance, analysts regularly try pressuring Costco to pay its workers less, wanting fatter margins. But the comparatively high wages are an integral part of Costco’s formula: it reduces costly staff turnover and employee pilferage. And Costco’s upscale members report they prefer to patronize a store they know treats workers better than Walmart and other discounters. If managers with an established, successful formulas still encounter pressure from the Street to strip mine their companies, imagine how hard it is for struggling companies or less secure top executives to implement strategies that will take a while to reap rewards. I’ve been getting reports from McKinsey from the better part of a decade that they simply can’t get their clients to implement new initiatives if they’ll dent quarterly returns.

This governance system is actually in crisis, but the extraordinary profit share that companies have managed to achieve by squeezing workers and the asset-goosing success of post-crisis financial policies have produced an illusion of health. But porcine maquillage only improves appearances; it doesn’t mask the stench of gangrene. Nevertheless, executives have successfully hidden the generally unhealthy state of their companies. As long as they have cheerleading analysts, complacent boards and the Fed protecting their back, they can likely continue to inflict more damage, using “maximizing shareholder value” canard as the cover for continuing rent extraction.

 

Read more at
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/10/why-the-maximizing-shareholder-value-theory-of-corporate-governance-is-bogus.html#ehj10weqAL2vdXkh.99

Jensen Comment
Mike Jensen was the headliner at the 2013 American Accounting Association Annual Meetings. AAA members can watch various videos by him and about him at the AAA Commons Website.

Actually Al Rappaport at Northwestern may have been more influential in spreading the word about creating shareholder value ---
Rappaport, Alfred (1998). Creating Shareholder Value: A guide for managers and investors. New York: The Free Press. pp. 13–29.

It would be interesting if Mike Jensen and/or Al Rappaport wrote rebuttals to this article.

Bob Jensen's threads on triple-bottom reporting ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory02.htm#TripleBottom

Bob Jensen's threads on theory are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm

 


"How Non-Scientific Granulation Can Improve Scientific Accountics"
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/AccounticsGranulationCurrentDraft.pdf
By Bob Jensen
This essay takes off from the following quotation:

A recent accountics science study suggests that audit firm scandal with respect to someone else's audit may be a reason for changing auditors.
"Audit Quality and Auditor Reputation: Evidence from Japan," by Douglas J. Skinner and Suraj Srinivasan, The Accounting Review, September 2012, Vol. 87, No. 5, pp. 1737-1765.

Our conclusions are subject to two caveats. First, we find that clients switched away from ChuoAoyama in large numbers in Spring 2006, just after Japanese regulators announced the two-month suspension and PwC formed Aarata. While we interpret these events as being a clear and undeniable signal of audit-quality problems at ChuoAoyama, we cannot know for sure what drove these switches (emphasis added). It is possible that the suspension caused firms to switch auditors for reasons unrelated to audit quality. Second, our analysis presumes that audit quality is important to Japanese companies. While we believe this to be the case, especially over the past two decades as Japanese capital markets have evolved to be more like their Western counterparts, it is possible that audit quality is, in general, less important in Japan (emphasis added) .

 

 


Replication Paranoia:  Can you imagine anything like this happening in accountics science?

"Is Psychology About to Come Undone?" by Tom Bartlett, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 17, 2012 --- Click Here
http://chronicle.com/blogs/percolator/is-psychology-about-to-come-undone/29045?sid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

If you’re a psychologist, the news has to make you a little nervous—particularly if you’re a psychologist who published an article in 2008 in any of these three journals: Psychological Science, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, or the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition.

Because, if you did, someone is going to check your work. A group of researchers have already begun what they’ve dubbed the Reproducibility Project, which aims to replicate every study from those three journals for that one year. The project is part of Open Science Framework, a group interested in scientific values, and its stated mission is to “estimate the reproducibility of a sample of studies from the scientific literature.” This is a more polite way of saying “We want to see how much of what gets published turns out to be bunk.”

For decades, literally, there has been talk about whether what makes it into the pages of psychology journals—or the journals of other disciplines, for that matter—is actually, you know, true. Researchers anxious for novel, significant, career-making findings have an incentive to publish their successes while neglecting to mention their failures. It’s what the psychologist Robert Rosenthal named “the file drawer effect.” So if an experiment is run ten times but pans out only once you trumpet the exception rather than the rule. Or perhaps a researcher is unconsciously biasing a study somehow. Or maybe he or she is flat-out faking results, which is not unheard of. Diederik Stapel, we’re looking at you.

So why not check? Well, for a lot of reasons. It’s time-consuming and doesn’t do much for your career to replicate other researchers’ findings. Journal editors aren’t exactly jazzed about publishing replications. And potentially undermining someone else’s research is not a good way to make friends.

Brian Nosek knows all that and he’s doing it anyway. Nosek, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, is one of the coordinators of the project. He’s careful not to make it sound as if he’s attacking his own field. “The project does not aim to single out anybody,” he says. He notes that being unable to replicate a finding is not the same as discovering that the finding is false. It’s not always possible to match research methods precisely, and researchers performing replications can make mistakes, too.

But still. If it turns out that a sizable percentage (a quarter? half?) of the results published in these three top psychology journals can’t be replicated, it’s not going to reflect well on the field or on the researchers whose papers didn’t pass the test. In the long run, coming to grips with the scope of the problem is almost certainly beneficial for everyone. In the short run, it might get ugly.

Nosek told Science that a senior colleague warned him not to take this on “because psychology is under threat and this could make us look bad.” In a Google discussion group, one of the researchers involved in the project wrote that it was important to stay “on message” and portray the effort to the news media as “protecting our science, not tearing it down.”

The researchers point out, fairly, that it’s not just social psychology that has to deal with this issue. Recently, a scientist named C. Glenn Begley attempted to replicate 53 cancer studies he deemed landmark publications. He could only replicate six. Six! Last December I interviewed Christopher Chabris about his paper titled “Most Reported Genetic Associations with General Intelligence Are Probably False Positives.” Most!

A related new endeavour called Psych File Drawer allows psychologists to upload their attempts to replicate studies. So far nine studies have been uploaded and only three of them were successes.

Both Psych File Drawer and the Reproducibility Project were started in part because it’s hard to get a replication published even when a study cries out for one. For instance, Daryl J. Bem’s 2011 study that seemed to prove that extra-sensory perception is real — that subjects could, in a limited sense, predict the future — got no shortage of attention and seemed to turn everything we know about the world upside-down.

Yet when Stuart Ritchie, a doctoral student in psychology at the University of Edinburgh, and two colleagues failed to replicate his findings, they had a heck of a time getting the results into print (they finally did, just recently, after months of trying). It may not be a coincidence that the journal that published Bem’s findings, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, is one of the three selected for scrutiny.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment

Scale Risk
In accountics science such a "Reproducibility Project" would be much more problematic except in behavioral accounting research. This is because accountics scientists generally buy rather than generate their own data (Zoe-Vonna Palmrose is an exception). The problem with purchased data from such as CRSP data, Compustat data, and AuditAnalytics data is that it's virtually impossible to generate alternate data sets, and if there are hidden serious errors in the data it can unknowingly wipe out thousands of accountics science publications all at one --- what we might call a "scale risk."

Assumptions Risk
A second problem in accounting and finance research is that researchers tend to rely upon the same models over and over again. And when serious  flaws were discovered in a model like CAPM it not only raised doubts about thousands of past studies, it made accountics and finance researchers make choices about whether or not to change their CAPM habits in the future. Accountics researchers that generally look for an easy way out blindly continued to use CAPM in conspiracy with journal referees and editors who silently agreed to ignore CAPM problems and limitations of assumptions about efficiency in capital markets---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#EMH
We might call this an "assumptions risk."

Hence I do not anticipate that there will ever be a Reproducibility Project in accountics science. Horrors. Accountics scientists might not continue to be the highest paid faculty on their respected campuses and accounting doctoral programs would not know how to proceed if they had to start focusing on accounting rather than econometrics.

Bob Jensen's threads on replication and other forms of validity checking ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TheoryTAR.htm


Ockham’s (or Occam's) Razor (Law of Parsimony and Succinctness) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ockham's_razor

"Razoring Ockham’s razor," by Massimo Pigliucci, Rationally Speaking, May 6, 2011 ---
http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/2011/05/razoring-ockhams-razor.html

Scientists, philosophers and skeptics alike are familiar with the idea of Ockham’s razor, an epistemological principle formulated in a number of ways by the English Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher William of Ockham (1288-1348). Here is one version of it, from the pen of its originator:
 
Frustra fit per plura quod potest fieri per pauciora. [It is futile to do with more things that which can be done with fewer] (Summa Totius Logicae)
 
Philosophers often refer to this as the principle of economy, while scientists tend to call it parsimony. Skeptics invoke it every time they wish to dismiss out of hand claims of unusual phenomena (after all, to invoke the “unusual” is by definition unparsimonious, so there).
 
There is a problem with all of this, however, of which I was reminded recently while reading an old paper by my colleague Elliot Sober, one of the most prominent contemporary philosophers of biology. Sober’s article is provocatively entitled “Let’s razor Ockham’s razor” and it is available for download from his web site.
 
Let me begin by reassuring you that Sober didn’t throw the razor in the trash. However, he cut it down to size, so to speak. The obvious question to ask about Ockham’s razor is: why? On what basis are we justified to think that, as a matter of general practice, the simplest hypothesis is the most likely one to be true? Setting aside the surprisingly difficult task of operationally defining “simpler” in the context of scientific hypotheses (it can be done, but only in certain domains, and it ain’t straightforward), there doesn’t seem to be any particular logical or metaphysical reason to believe that the universe is a simple as it could be.
 
Indeed, we know it’s not. The history of science is replete with examples of simpler (“more elegant,” if you are aesthetically inclined) hypotheses that had to yield to more clumsy and complicated ones. The Keplerian idea of elliptical planetary orbits is demonstrably more complicated than the Copernican one of circular orbits (because it takes more parameters to define an ellipse than a circle), and yet, planets do in fact run around the gravitational center of the solar system in ellipses, not circles.
 
Lee Smolin (in his delightful The Trouble with Physics) gives us a good history of 20th century physics, replete with a veritable cemetery of hypotheses that people thought “must” have been right because they were so simple and beautiful, and yet turned out to be wrong because the data stubbornly contradicted them.
 
In Sober’s paper you will find a discussion of two uses of Ockham’s razor in biology, George Williams’ famous critique of group selection, and “cladistic” phylogenetic analyses. In the first case, Williams argued that individual- or gene-level selective explanations are preferable to group-selective explanations because they are more parsimonious. In the second case, modern systematists use parsimony to reconstruct the most likely phylogenetic relationships among species, assuming that a smaller number of independent evolutionary changes is more likely than a larger number.
 
Part of the problem is that we do have examples of both group selection (not many, but they are there), and of non-parsimonious evolutionary paths, which means that at best Ockham’s razor can be used as a first approximation heuristic, not as a sound principle of scientific inference.
 
And it gets worse before it gets better. Sober cites Aristotle, who chided Plato for hypostatizing The Good. You see, Plato was always running around asking what makes for a Good Musician, or a Good General. By using the word Good in all these inquiries, he came to believe that all these activities have something fundamental in common, that there is a general concept of Good that gets instantiated in being a good musician, general, etc. But that, of course, is nonsense on stilts, since what makes for a good musician has nothing whatsoever to do with what makes for a good general.
 
Analogously, suggests Sober, the various uses of Ockham’s razor have no metaphysical or logical universal principle in common — despite what many scientists, skeptics and even philosophers seem to think. Williams was correct, group selection is less likely than individual selection (though not impossible), and the cladists are correct too that parsimony is usually a good way to evaluate competitive phylogenetic hypotheses. But the two cases (and many others) do not share any universal property in common.
 
What’s going on, then? Sober’s solution is to invoke the famous Duhem thesis.** Pierre Duhem suggested in 1908 that, as Sober puts it: “it is wrong to think that hypothesis H makes predictions about observation O; it is the conjunction of H&A [where A is a set of auxiliary hypotheses] that issues in testable consequences.”
 
This means that, for instance, when astronomer Arthur Eddington “tested” Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity during a famous 1919 total eclipse of the Sun — by showing that the Sun’s gravitational mass was indeed deflecting starlight by exactly the amount predicted by Einstein — he was not, strictly speaking doing any such thing. Eddington was testing Einstein’s theory given a set of auxiliary hypotheses, a set that included independent estimates of the mass of the sun, the laws of optics that allowed the telescopes to work, the precision of measurement of stellar positions, and even the technical processing of the resulting photographs. Had Eddington failed to confirm the hypotheses this would not (necessarily) have spelled the death of Einstein’s theory (since confirmed in many other ways). The failure could have resulted from the failure of any of the auxiliary hypotheses instead.
 
This is both why there is no such thing as a “crucial” experiment in science (you always need to repeat them under a variety of conditions), and why naive Popperian falsificationism is wrong (you can never falsify a hypothesis directly, only the H&A complex can be falsified).
 
What does this have to do with Ockham’s razor? The Duhem thesis explains why Sober is right, I think, in maintaining that the razor works (when it does) given certain background assumptions that are bound to be discipline- and problem-specific. So, for instance, Williams’ reasoning about group selection isn’t correct because of some generic logical property of parsimony (as Williams himself apparently thought), but because — given the sorts of things that living organisms and populations are, how natural selection works, and a host of other biological details — it is indeed much more likely than not that individual and not group selective explanations will do the work in most specific instances. But that set of biological reasons is quite different from the set that cladists use in justifying their use of parsimony to reconstruct organismal phylogenies. And needless to say, neither of these two sets of auxiliary assumptions has anything to do with the instances of successful deployment of the razor by physicists, for example.

Continued in article
Note the comments that follow


August 21, 2012 message from Amy Dunbar

Jensen Quotation
"Of course you, Amy, know this since you prepare technical tax learning Camtasia videos for your tax students. I suspect you also prepare technical software learning videos (such as how to run a GLM model in SAS)."

Actually I record Stata videos. I much prefer Stata to SAS. ;-)
Amy

Stata --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stata

SAS --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAS_%28software%29

 


 

574 Shields Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TheoryTAR.htm

Gaming for Tenure as an Accounting Professor ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TheoryTenure.htm
(with a reply about tenure publication point systems from Linda Kidwell)

"So you want to get a Ph.D.?" by David Wood, BYU ---
http://www.byuaccounting.net/mediawiki/index.php?title=So_you_want_to_get_a_Ph.D.%3F

Do You Want to Teach? ---
http://financialexecutives.blogspot.com/2009/05/do-you-want-to-teach.html

Jensen Comment
Here are some added positives and negatives to consider, especially if you are currently a practicing accountant considering becoming a professor.

Accountancy Doctoral Program Information from Jim Hasselback ---
http://www.jrhasselback.com/AtgDoctInfo.html 

Why must all accounting doctoral programs be social science (particularly econometrics) "accountics" doctoral programs?
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#DoctoralPrograms

What went wrong in accounting/accountics research?
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#WhatWentWrong

 

AN ANALYSIS OF THE EVOLUTION OF RESEARCH CONTRIBUTIONS BY THE ACCOUNTING REVIEW: 1926-2005 ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/395wpTAR/Web/TAR395wp.htm#_msocom_1

Systemic problems of accountancy (especially the vegetable nutrition paradox) that probably will never be solved ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#BadNews

 

AN ANALYSIS OF THE EVOLUTION OF RESEARCH CONTRIBUTIONS BY THE ACCOUNTING REVIEW: 1926-2005 ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/395wpTAR/Web/TAR395wp.htm#_msocom_1

Systemic problems of accountancy (especially the vegetable nutrition paradox) that probably will never be solved ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#BadNews

"The Accounting Doctoral Shortage: Time for a New Model,"
by Neal Mero, Jan R. Williams and George W. Krull, Jr. .
Issues in Accounting Education
24 (4)
http://aaapubs.aip.org/getabs/servlet/GetabsServlet?prog=normal&id=IAEXXX000024000004000427000001&idtype=cvips&gifs=Yes&ref=no

ABSTRACT:
The crisis in supply versus demand for doctorally qualified faculty members in accounting is well documented (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business [AACSB] 2003a, 2003b; Plumlee et al. 2005; Leslie 2008). Little progress has been made in addressing this serious challenge facing the accounting academic community and the accounting profession. Faculty time, institutional incentives, the doctoral model itself, and research diversity are noted as major challenges to making progress on this issue. The authors propose six recommendations, including a new, extramurally funded research program aimed at supporting doctoral students that functions similar to research programs supported by such organizations as the National Science Foundation and other science-based funding sources. The goal is to create capacity, improve structures for doctoral programs, and provide incentives to enhance doctoral enrollments. This should lead to an increased supply of graduates while also enhancing and supporting broad-based research outcomes across the accounting landscape, including auditing and tax. ©2009 American Accounting Association

Bob Jensen's threads on accountancy doctoral programs are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#DoctoralPrograms

 


Steven J. Kachelmeier's July 2011 Editorial as Departing Senior Editor of The Accounting Review (TAR)

"Introduction to a Forum on Internal Control Reporting and Corporate Debt," by Steven J. Kachelmeier, The Accounting Review, Vol. 86, No. 4, July 2011 pp. 1129–113 (not free online) ---
http://aaapubs.aip.org/getpdf/servlet/GetPDFServlet?filetype=pdf&id=ACRVAS000086000004001129000001&idtype=cvips&prog=normal

One of the more surprising things I have learned from my experience as Senior Editor of The Accounting Review is just how often a ‘‘hot topic’’ generates multiple submissions that pursue similar research objectives. Though one might view such situations as enhancing the credibility of research findings through the independent efforts of multiple research teams, they often result in unfavorable reactions from reviewers who question the incremental contribution of a subsequent study that does not materially advance the findings already documented in a previous study, even if the two (or more) efforts were initiated independently and pursued more or less concurrently. I understand the reason for a high incremental contribution standard in a top-tier journal that faces capacity constraints and deals with about 500 new submissions per year. Nevertheless, I must admit that I sometimes feel bad writing a rejection letter on a good study, just because some other research team beat the authors to press with similar conclusions documented a few months earlier. Research, it seems, operates in a highly competitive arena.

Fortunately, from time to time, we receive related but still distinct submissions that, in combination, capture synergies (and reviewer support) by viewing a broad research question from different perspectives. The two articles comprising this issue’s forum are a classic case in point. Though both studies reach the same basic conclusion that material weaknesses in internal controls over financial reporting result in negative repercussions for the cost of debt financing, Dhaliwal et al. (2011) do so by examining the public market for corporate debt instruments, whereas Kim et al. (2011) examine private debt contracting with financial institutions. These different perspectives enable the two research teams to pursue different secondary analyses, such as Dhaliwal et al.’s examination of the sensitivity of the reported findings to bank monitoring and Kim et al.’s examination of debt covenants.

Both studies also overlap with yet a third recent effort in this arena, recently published in the Journal of Accounting Research by Costello and Wittenberg-Moerman (2011). Although the overall ‘‘punch line’’ is similar in all three studies (material internal control weaknesses result in a higher cost of debt), I am intrigued by a ‘‘mini-debate’’ of sorts on the different conclusions reache  by Costello and Wittenberg-Moerman (2011) and by Kim et al. (2011) for the effect of material weaknesses on debt covenants. Specifically, Costello and Wittenberg-Moerman (2011, 116) find that ‘‘serious, fraud-related weaknesses result in a significant decrease in financial covenants,’’ presumably because banks substitute more direct protections in such instances, whereas Kim et al. Published Online: July 2011 (2011) assert from their cross-sectional design that company-level material weaknesses are associated with more financial covenants in debt contracting.

In reconciling these conflicting findings, Costello and Wittenberg-Moerman (2011, 116) attribute the Kim et al. (2011) result to underlying ‘‘differences in more fundamental firm characteristics, such as riskiness and information opacity,’’ given that, cross-sectionally, material weakness firms have a greater number of financial covenants than do non-material weakness firms even before the disclosure of the material weakness in internal controls. Kim et al. (2011) counter that they control for risk and opacity characteristics, and that advance leakage of internal control problems could still result in a debt covenant effect due to internal controls rather than underlying firm characteristics. Kim et al. (2011) also report from a supplemental change analysis that, comparing the pre- and post-SOX 404 periods, the number of debt covenants falls for companies both with and without material weaknesses in internal controls, raising the question of whether the

Costello and Wittenberg-Moerman (2011) finding reflects a reaction to the disclosures or simply a more general trend of a declining number of debt covenants affecting all firms around that time period. I urge readers to take a look at both articles, along with Dhaliwal et al. (2011), and draw their own conclusions. Indeed, I believe that these sorts . . .

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Without admitting to it, I think Steve has been embarrassed, along with many other accountics researchers, about the virtual absence of validation and replication of accounting science (accountics) research studies over the past five decades. For the most part, accountics articles are either ignored or accepted as truth without validation. Behavioral and capital markets empirical studies are rarely (ever?) replicated. Analytical studies make tremendous leaps of faith in terms of underlying assumptions that are rarely challenged (such as the assumption of equations depicting utility functions of corporations).

Accounting science thereby has become a pseudo science where highly paid accountics professor referees are protecting each others' butts ---
"574 Shields Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave" --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TheoryTAR.htm
The above link contains Steve's rejoinders on the replication debate.

In the above editorial he's telling us that there is a middle ground for validation of accountics studies. When researchers independently come to similar conclusions using different data sets and different quantitative analyses they are in a sense validating each others' work without truly replicating each others' work.

I agree with Steve on this, but I would also argue that these types of "validation" is too little to late relative to genuine science where replication and true validation are essential to the very definition of science. The types independent but related research that Steve is discussing above is too infrequent and haphazard to fall into the realm of validation and replication.

When's the last time you witnesses a TAR author criticizing the research of another TAR author (TAR does not publish critical commentaries)?
Are TAR articles really all that above criticism?
Even though I admire Steve's scholarship, dedication, and sacrifice, I hope future TAR editors will work harder at turning accountics research into real science!

What Went Wrong With Accountics Research? --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#WhatWentWrong

"574 Shields Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave" --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TheoryTAR.htm

 

 

 


Some Accounting News Sites and Related Links
Bob Jensen at Trinity University

Accounting  and Taxation News Sites --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/AccountingNews.htm

Fraud News --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/AccountingNews.htm

XBRL News --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/AccountingNews.htm

Selected Accounting History Sites --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/AccountingNews.htm

Some of Bob Jensen's Pictures and Stories --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/AccountingNews.htm

Free Tutorials, Videos, and Other Helpers --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/AccountingNews.htm

Bob Jensen's gateway to millions of other blogs and social/professional networks ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ListservRoles.htm

 

Bob Jensen's Threads --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/threads.htm

Bob Jensen's Blogs --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/JensenBlogs.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called New Bookmarks --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Tidbits --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/resume.htm#Presentations   

Free Online Textbooks, Videos, and Tutorials --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm#Textbooks
Free Tutorials in Various Disciplines --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#Tutorials
Edutainment and Learning Games --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#Edutainment
Open Sharing Courses --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

Peter, Paul, and Barney: An Essay on 2008 U.S. Government Bailouts of Private Companies ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm

Health Care News --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Health.htm

Bob Jensen's Resume --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Resume.htm

Bob Jensen's Threads --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/threads.htm

Bob Jensen's Homepage --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/

 

 


Accounting Theory Courses

Accounting theory courses seem to vary across the board as do AIS courses in comparison to most other accounting courses that are structured largely by the CPA examination and relatively uniform textbooks in basic, intermediate, and advanced accounting courses.

Some programs gave up teaching accounting theory, in part because there really aren't any good new textbooks in accounting theory, and the older textbooks are outdated.
 

There are many bases from which accounting theory might be taught; Suggestions below are broad categories having considerable overlap:

 

·         Historical Base --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#AccountingHistory

Modern Science and Ancient Wisdom --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#AncientWisdom
 

"A Wisdom 101 Course!" February 15, 2010 ---
http://www.simoleonsense.com/a-wisdom-101-course/

"Overview of Prior Research on Wisdom," Simoleon Sense, February 15, 2010 ---
http://www.simoleonsense.com/overview-of-prior-research-on-wisdom/

"An Overview Of The Psychology Of Wisdom," Simoleon Sense, February 15, 2010 ---
http://www.simoleonsense.com/an-overview-of-the-psychology-of-wisdom/

 

 

·         Opposing Theories of Accounting Hall of Fame Theorists (not all were theorists) ---
http://fisher.osu.edu/departments/accounting-and-mis/the-accounting-hall-of-fame/membership-in-hall/

 

·         Creative Accounting Base       --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#Manipulation
                                       And  --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#OBSF2

 

One course I would like to develop would relate the great theories of management and sociology to roles accounting might play under such theories:

I would also like to develop an accounting theory course on the interaction of accounting controls, stewardship accounting, and the evolution of fraud. The focus would be upon the theory of preventing fraud:

Added Later
Another topic I overlooked for a theory course would be focus on accounting for the “shadow economy” ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#ShadowEconomy

And any accounting theory course should not overlook the huge problem of accounting for intangibles and contingencies ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#TheoryDisputes
These are at the very center of the systemic and intractable problems of financial and managerial accounting.

James Martin's references on accounting theory courses ---
http://maaw.blogspot.com/2010/03/my-response-to-question-about.html


Comparisons of IFRS with Domestic Standards of Many Nations
http://www.iasplus.com/country/compare.htm

More Detailed Differences (Comparisons) between FASB and IASB Accounting Standards

2011 Update

"IFRS and US GAAP: Similarities and Differences" according to PwC (2011 Edition)
http://www.pwc.com/us/en/issues/ifrs-reporting/publications/ifrs-and-us-gaap-similarities-and-differences.jhtml
Note the Download button!
Note that warnings are given throughout the document that the similarities and differences mentioned in the booklet are not comprehensive of all similarities and differences. The document is, however, a valuable addition to students of FASB versus IASB standard differences and similarities.

It's not easy keeping track of what's changing and how, but this publication can help. Changes for 2011 include:

  • Revised introduction reflecting the current status, likely next steps, and what companies should be doing now
    (see page 2);
  • Updated convergence timeline, including current proposed timing of exposure drafts, deliberations, comment periods, and final standards
    (see page 7)
    ;
  • More current analysis of the differences between IFRS and US GAAP -- including an assessment of the impact embodied within the differences
    (starting on page 17)
    ; and
  • Details incorporating authoritative standards and interpretive guidance issued through July 31, 2011
    (throughout)
    .

This continues to be one of PwC's most-read publications, and we are confident the 2011 edition will further your understanding of these issues and potential next steps.

For further exploration of the similarities and differences between IFRS and US GAAP, please also visit our IFRS Video Learning Center.

To request a hard copy of this publication, please contact your PwC engagement team or contact us.

Jensen Comment
My favorite comparison topics (Derivatives and Hedging) begin on Page 158
The booklet does a good job listing differences but, in my opinion, overly downplays the importance of these differences. It may well be that IFRS is more restrictive in some areas and less restrictive in other areas to a fault. This is one topical area where IFRS becomes much too subjective such that comparisons of derivatives and hedging activities under IFRS can defeat the main purpose of "standards." The main purpose of an "accounting standard" is to lead to greater comparability of inter-company financial statements. Boo on IFRS in this topical area, especially when it comes to testing hedge effectiveness!

One key quotation is on Page 165

IFRS does not specifically discuss the methodology of applying a critical-terms match in the level of detail included within U.S. GAAP.
Then it goes yatta, yatta, yatta.

Jensen Comment
This is so typical of when IFRS fails to present the "same level of detail" and more importantly fails to provide "implementation guidance" comparable with the FASB's DIG implementation topics and illustrations.

I have a huge beef with the lack of illustrations in IFRS versus the many illustrations in U.S. GAAP.

I have a huge beef with the lack of illustrations in IFRS versus the many illustrations in U.S. GAAP.

I have a huge beef with the lack of illustrations in IFRS versus the many illustrations in U.S. GAAP.

Bob Jensen's threads on accounting standards setting controversies ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#MethodsForSetting

 

"Canadian regulator decides against allowing early adoption of recent IFRSs by certain entities," IAS Plus, November 1, 2011 ---
http://www.iasplus.com/index.htm

. . .

In making its decision, the OSFI considered a number of factors such as industry consistency, OSFI policy positions on accounting and capital, operational capacity and resource constraints of Federally Regulated Entities (FREs), the ability to benefit from improved standards arising from the financial crisis and the notion of a level playing field with other Canadian and international financial institutions. OSFI concluded that FREs should not early adopt the following new or amended IFRSs, but instead should adhere to their mandatory effective dates:

Continued


 

Jensen Comment
The clients, auditors, and the AICPA clamoring that U.S. firms should be able to voluntarily choose IFRS instead of U.S. GAAP even before it has not been decided that IFRS will ever replace FASB standards seem to ignore the problems that voluntary choice of IFRS might cause for investors and analysts. The above reasoning by the OSFI makes sense to me.

But then outfits like the AICPA have a self-serving interest in earning millions of dollars selling IFRS training courses and materials.
 

November 2, 2011 reply from Patricia Walters

Does that mean you oppose options to early adopt standards in general, not just IFRSs?

Pat

 

November 2, 2011 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Pat,

It's hard to say regarding early adoption of a particular national or international standard, because there can be unique circumstances. For example, FAS 123R simply altered how to make disclosures rather than alter the disclosures themselves since employee option expenses had to be disclosed before the FAS 123R adoption date. But even here early adoption of FAS 123R by Company A versus late adoption by Company B made simple comparisons of eps and P/E ratios between these companies less easy.

There's a huge difference between early adoption of a particular standard and early adoption of an entire system of standards like switching from FASB accounting standards to IFRS.

I think the Canadian position of early adoption of IFRS is probably correct because of the mess early adoption of IFRS makes with comparisons of companies using different accounting standards and the added costs of regulation of more than one set of standards. Also think of the added burden placed upon the courts to adjudicate disputes when differing sets of standards are being used.

Even though we allow IFRS for SEC registered foreign companies, I think it would be a total mess for the SEC, the PCAOB, investors, analysts, educators, trainers, auditing, and even the IRS (where tax and reporting treatments must sometimes be reconciled) if our domestic corporations could choose between FASB versus IASB standards.

There are hundreds of differences between FASB and IASB standards. Allowing companies domestic companies to cherry pick which system they choose before it is even known if there will ever be official replacement of FASB standards by IASB standards would be very, very confusing. What if there never is a decision to replace FASB standards? Do want to simply allow companies to choose to bypass FASB standards at their own discretion?

Of course, if information were costless it might be ideal to require financial reporting where FASB and IASB outcomes are reconciled. But clients and auditors generally contend that the cost of doing this greatly exceeds benefits. And teaching financial accounting would become exceedingly complicated if we had to teach two sets of standards on an equal basis.

I would certainly hate to face a CPA examination that had nearly equal coverage of both FASB and IASB standards simultaneously. I say this especially after viewing the hundreds of pages of complicated differences between the two standards systems.

Respectfully,
Bob Jensen

Bob Jensen's threads on accounting standard setting controversies ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#MethodsForSetting


"Empirics and Psychology: Eight of the World’s Top Young Economists Discuss Where Their Field Is Going," There Are Free Lunches Blog, October 8, 2012 ---
http://therearefreelunches.blogspot.com/2012/10/o2-3-empirics-and-psychology-eight-of.html

Link to the Big Think Interviews --- Click Here
http://bigthink.com/power-games/empirics-and-psychology-eight-of-the-worlds-top-young-economists-discuss-where-their-field-is-going?goback=.gde_112700_member_141501666

Jensen Comment
Note that tied into Peter Leeson's comments is an entire excellent online course by Steve Keen

Steve Keen in Australia --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Keen

They're Great!!!
Steve Keen: Behavioral Finance Lectures 2012  --- Click Here
http://www.valueinvestingworld.com/2012/09/steve-keen-behavioral-finance-lectures.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ValueInvestingWorld+%28Value+Investing+World%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

I’ve just uploaded the first 8 lectures in my Behavioral Finance class for 2012. The first few lectures are very similar to last year’s, but the content changes substantially by about lecture 5 when I start to focus more on Schumpeter’s approach to endogenous money ---
http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/2012/09/23/behavioral-finance-lectures/

Related book: Debunking Economics

Jensen Comment
These are quite good slide show lectures.

 
"Video:  Behavioral Finance from PBS Nova," by Jim Mahar, Finance Professor Blog, March 27, 2011---
 http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/2011/03/behavioarl-finance-from-pbs-nova.html

Bob Jensen's Threads on Behavioral and Cultural Economics and Finance ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#Behavioral

Bob Jensen's threads on tutorials, lectures, videos and course materials from prestigious universities ---
http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/2012/09/23/behavioral-finance-lectures/

Bob Jensen's threads on tutorials, lectures, videos and course materials from prestigious universities ---
http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/2012/09/23/behavioral-finance-lectures/

 


"History, Not Politics," by Serena Golden, Inside Higher Ed, May 21, 2010 ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/05/21/spence

Jonathan Spence came here to deliver a speech, but don't let that fool you: his address -- the 39th Annual Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, which took place Thursday -- in no way resembled the sort typically associated with D.C.

The Jefferson Lecture is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, which describes the lecture as "the most prestigious honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities." Those chosen for the distinction are typically academics or creative types (or both) -- but, given the setting, the sponsor, and the nature of the award (which "recognizes an individual... who has the ability to communicate the knowledge and wisdom of the humanities in a broad, appealing way"), Jefferson Lecturers have historically taken the opportunity to make a larger (and sometimes tacitly political) point related to the humanities. Last year, controversial bioethicist Leon Kass used his lecture to criticize the way the humanities are taught and researched at American universities; in 2007, Harvey Mansfield argued, with many subtle political allusions, that the social sciences are in dire need of "the help of literature and history"; Tom Wolfe's 2006 lecture discussed how the humanities shed light on modern culture (and lamented the current state of that culture on campuses); 2005 lecturer Donald Kagan and 2004 lecturer Helen Vendler offered opposing views on which disciplines of the humanities are most crucial, and why.

If any of those in the crowd (noticeably larger than last year's) at the Warner Theater last night were familiar with the Jefferson Lectures of years prior, they were in for a surprise.

Spence is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University, whose faculty he joined in 1966. His specialty has always been China -- his 14 books on Chinese history include 1990's The Search for Modern China, upon whose publication the New York Times accurately predicted that it would "undoubtedly become a standard text on the subject" -- and his lecture was entitled "When Minds Met: China and the West in the Seventeenth Century." Even this relatively specific appellation, however, conveys a misleading breadth, for Spence's lecture focused almost exclusively on three men -- Shen Fuzong, an exceptionally learned Chinese traveler; Thomas Hyde, an English scholar of history and language; and Robert Boyle, also English, a scientist and philosopher of considerable renown -- and one year: 1687.

In his lecture, Spence gave what may (or may not) have been one brief acknowledgment that he'd chosen an unusually narrow topic of discourse: "It is a commonplace, I think, that the sources that underpin our concept of the humanities, as a focus for our thinking, are expected to be broadly inclusive." But, for himself, Spence dismissed that notion in one more sentence: "...as a historian I have always been drawn to the apparently small-scale happenings in circumscribed settings, out of which we can tease a more expansive story."

Thus he dedicated the rest of his lecture to the story of those three historical figures in the year 1687. Shen had traveled to Europe in the company of one of his teachers, a Flemish Jesuit priest who was co-editing a book of the sayings of Confucius from Chinese into Latin. Hyde, librarian at the University of Oxford's Bodleian Library, invited Shen there to assist him with the cataloging of some Chinese books -- and also because Hyde, who in that era would have been called an Orientalist, wanted to learn Chinese himself. After a brief stay at Oxford, Shen returned to London, bearing a letter of introduction from Hyde to his friend Boyle; the letter recommended that Boyle meet and converse with the Chinese scholar. The letter had to be convincing, Spence explained, because Boyle's reputation was by then widespread, and "he was so inundated with curious visitors that at times he had to withdraw into self-enforced seclusion...."

Shen did meet Boyle at least once; Boyle's work diary mentions their discussion of the Chinese language and its scholars (a conversation that, like all of those between Shen and Hyde, must have taken place in Latin: Shen's Latin was excellent, but he did not, evidently, know English). And Hyde maintained correspondence not only with his old friend Boyle -- over the years, the two had "discussed Arabic and Persian texts, Malay grammars... and how to access books from Tangier, Constantinople and Bombay" as well as "the chemical constituents of sal ammoniac and amber, the effectiveness of certain Mexican herbs... current studies of human blood and air, the nature of papyrus, the writings of Ramon Llull and the use of elixirs and alchemy in the treatment of illnesses" -- but also with Shen, until around the time of the latter's departure from England for Portugal in the spring of 1688.The letters between Shen and Hyde covered such topics as "Chinese vocabulary... China's units of weights and measurements... the workings of the Chinese examination system and bureaucracy... [and] the Chinese Buddhist belief in the transmigration of souls."

"All three men," Spence ultimately concluded, "though so different, shared certain basic ideas about human knowledge: these included... the importance of linguistic precision, the need for broad-based comparative studies, the role of clarity in argument, the need for thorough scrutiny of philosophical and theological principles.... Theirs, though brief, had been a real meeting of the minds. And the values they shared remain, well over three hundred years later, the kind that we can seek to practice even in our own hurried lives."

That final point was the closest Spence came to suggesting a particular take-home message for his audience; however, in an interview with Inside Higher Ed, held that morning in the lobby of the Willard Hotel, he did mention a few ideas that he was hoping to convey. For one thing, Spence said, given the current importance of U.S.-China relations, he hopes this much older, smaller-scale example of dialogue between the East and West will "give some perspective to that."

"Historians," he said, "try to get people away from just focusing on the present; they try to give them some sort of stronger sense of continuity, human continuity. And I just like the range of things, these three people that draw together, and they're writing their letters to each other, and their few meetings... and in that short time they talk about examination systems, they talk about language, competition, they talk about medicine, they talk about -- I was fascinated, they talk about chess..... All these things seemed to me to flow together, and I think they'd make an interesting -- I hope they'd make an interesting -- package about cultural contact."

There's a message in that, Spence said: "to make our range of contact as wide as possible, and to use our intelligence about how to do this."

Another issue raised in the lecture, Spence said -- "maybe a small point, but perhaps worth making" -- has to do with the teaching and learning of languages; Hyde dreamed of bringing native speakers of various Eastern languages to Oxford, to establish a college of languages. "Why should everybody else on the planet speak English?" Spence asked. "I mean, why should they?"

But on the larger importance of the humanities, and their current status in higher education and society at large, Spence was reluctant to make a strong argument. "It's not just a case of encouraging humanities in the abstract; it's having something to say.... The main search should be for what is the most meaningful thing you can achieve with the humanities, how can you share some kind of broader cultural values, or how can you learn things about yourself or other societies. The challenge is to use the humane intelligence and see what can be built on that."

And when it comes to funding, "any government has to put its priorities somewhere, and this does usually mean cutting something."

His lecture, Spence said, isn't "meant to be exactly a political speech, you know, I hope people understand that."

For the most part, those in attendance seemed more than satisfied. Spence's talk was punctuated frequently by warm laughter from the audience -- whom he indulged shamelessly, often departing from his prepared remarks to expound upon details that interested him, or to make additional jokes whenever the crowd found one of his remarks especially humorous. When he finished, the applause was long and loud, and one woman remarked audibly, "That was amazing!"; her companion replied, "Nice, really nice!"

But at least a few people reacted with more ambivalence. One group of young attendees, who identified themselves as fans of Spence, having been students of his as undergraduates at Yale, said that while they'd enjoyed the lecture, they had been hoping that Spence would make a more explicit connection between his topic and issues of current cultural or political relevance. One noted that, in his introductory remarks that evening, NEH Chairman James Leach had described the purpose of the Jefferson Lecture as being "to narrow the gap between the world of academia and public affairs," and had emphasized the Endowment's goal of "bridging cultures."

There was an "irony," this young man said, in the fact that Spence's lecture precisely addressed the bridging of two cultures, but Spence hadn't made a bridge between his own remarks -- which the audience member interpreted as "a clarion call for better scholarship" -- and any other realm. "Listeners," he said (possibly referring to himself), "want something that's cut and dry, that's tweetable."

The possibility of such complaints about his speech had arisen during Inside Higher Ed's interview with Spence that morning; he hadn't seemed concerned. "I'm not going to sort of over-apologize to the audience... they've chosen to come to hear about the seventeenth century" -- he chuckled -- "I think we announced that!"

Bob Jensen’s call for better research in the accounting academy ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TheoryTAR.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on accounting history are at
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/05/21/spence


Robert Walker in New Zealand and I have been corresponding about how much of the core of an accounting theory course should be devoted to the main works of Professor Ijiri, especially his AAA Monographs --- http://aaahq.org/market/display.cfm?catID=5

Professor Ijiri was one on my doctoral studies professors, and I greatly admire his research and scholarship and devotion to mathematics ---
http://fisher.osu.edu/departments/accounting-and-mis/the-accounting-hall-of-fame/membership-in-hall/yuji-ijiri/

However, given the tradeoffs of the many topics that are important to accounting theory education, I think I would devote less time to Yuji’s works than would Robert Walker since I don’t think Yuji addressed many of our current theoretical problems. Robert Walker would pretty much begin and end an accounting theory course with the Ijiri monographs.

Robert Walker is a fine accounting historian and theorist who asked me to share the following with you.

I admit that my own interest in theory are probably wider. I’m also inclined with respect to accounting theory to also focus on issues of operations and implementation. We can always assume non-existent worlds filled with idealized inhabitants that we program. Andy way we like But that’s probably theory best left to economists.

 

Robert E. (Bob) Jensen
Trinity University Accounting Professor (Emeritus)
190 Sunset Hill Road
Sugar Hill, NH 03586
www.trinity.edu/rjensen 

 

From: Robert Bruce Walker [mailto:walkerrb@actrix.co.nz]
Sent: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 9:42 PM
To: Jensen, Robert
Subject: RE: Accounting Theory Courses

I am not trying to operationalise ‘triple entry’ bookkeeping.  This is ijiri’s ‘bridge too far’ (even a genius, for that is what he is, can be mistaken).  Knowing the flaws of historical cost, he attempted to introduce a third element which accommodated the future (‘momentum’).  In doing so he violated the beauty of the algebraic formulation that double entry is

I have attempted to express ‘momentum’ in double entry form – that is, I don’t look to the AAA study on ‘triple entry bookkeeping’ (which, frankly, is nonsense and an abject failure) but to the alternative valuation analysis in Theory of Accounting Measurement.  The idea of ‘momentum’ is to try to predict the future from the past.  That is not possible because it pre-supposes that there is an essential continuity.  It cannot take account of what is now referred to as the ‘black swan’ phenomenon – the wholly unpredictable and unexpected event.  At best the accountant can only lay out the value propositions that are an attempt to predict the future and adjust them for discontinuities.  The arrival of the black swan is, hopefully, not so momentous an event as to over-whelm the entity whose accounting is being carried out.  The equity buffer is there for that purpose – to accommodate the unexpected.

For instance, even in the example of life insurance where actuarial practice is (a) most precise and (b) most certain (everybody dies) the actuary cannot take account of events that have not arisen before.  They cannot predict a plague which would fundamentally alter the stochastic data.  All they can do is introduce a prudential margin (see IAS36.30).  Even then it may not be enough and even then a dangerous thing to do as it under-states equity.

I would go so far as to say that concepts such as irrationality are not amenable to any real or sensible mathematical formulation.  If it cannot be expressed in that form it cannot be expressed in accounting notation.  It is therefore not the business of accounting.  Perhaps my theory of accounting, if it is a theory at all, ultimately teaches this – accounting needs to be much more modest in its ambition.  It deals only in money and money’s worth.  If it cannot, it is not practical to express it in money then it shouldn’t be expressed. 

Take your concern with contingent liability (or better provisional liability) it is simply absurd to predict the outcome of the judicial process when dealing in matters of tort (as you know these days that is how I make my living and I wouldn’t even attempt to quantify my future ‘winnings’).  A written narrative is all that you can hope to achieve in such matters.  If that understates liabilities, so be it.  As I say that is what equity (ownership interest) is for.

It might not surprise for me to claim that my theories are based in Friedrich Nietzsche.  Consider this:

 

I walk among men as among fragments of the future; of that future which I scan.

 

And it is all my art and aim, to compose into one and bring together that which is fragment, and riddle and dreadful chance.

 

For how could I endure to be a man; if man were not poet and reader of riddles and the redeemer of chance!

 

To redeem the past; to turn every ‘it was’ into ‘I wanted it thus’.  That alone would I call redemption.

 

Friedrich Nietzsche Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

 

You wish to read the ‘fragments of the future’.  A Promethean task I think.  You cannot ever deal with ‘dreadful chance’ until it is upon you.  Then all you can do is redeem it.  It is foolhardy even an act of hubris to think otherwise.  Accounting can never do what you want it to do.  In the end it is about limits, limits to ambition.

Robert (jensen)

PS I hope your wife is OK.  It is illness, on a human scale, that is ‘dreadful chance’.

PSS Your colleagues might consider, along with Ijiri, Nietzsche as the foundation to a course of theory. His book Beyond Good and Evil has a sub-title ‘Towards a Philosophy of the Future’.

From: Jensen, Robert [mailto:rjensen@trinity.edu]
Sent: Thursday, 1 April 2010 10:26 a.m.
To: Robert Bruce Walker
Subject: RE: Accounting Theory Courses

Hi Robert (Walker),

I think I understand the swap, but I cannot connect to Ijiri with this illustration. The revaluations are given, but they do not relate to force or momentum. That would take a mathematical model of the future valuations, but this cannot be predicted. If it could there would be no swap. The party and the counterparty have different predictions of the future


New Essay Site by Robert Bruce Walker, Practitioner in New Zealand --- walkerrb@actrix.co.nz

I have begun to go back over all my many writings on the matter of accounting. I have decided to start publishing this material on my website and I will do so progressively over the next few weeks and months.

The first offering is an essay I wrote as a submission to what is now NZICA on the occasion of a restructure in about 1992.

For those of you who have read my messages over the last decade or so you will see that I am a musician with a single score in my repertoire. Or less self deprecatingly I have had a consistent message for what is now becoming decades rather than years.

Was I listened to back then? I doubt it. Was I right in what I said? My answer to that may surprise.

Please read it and circulate it. I am slightly uneasy about pushing people to read what I write. It seems so egotistical. But then that would be true of all writers or would-be writers.

http://www.robertbwalker.co.nz/documents/archives 

 


Brush up your Shakespeare:  Medieval manuscripts to hit Internet
Stanford University Libraries, the University of Cambridge and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, will make hundreds of medieval manuscripts, dating from the sixth through the 16th centuries, accessible on the Internet.
"Medieval manuscripts to hit Internet," Stanford Report, July 13, 2005 ---
http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2005/july13/parker-071305.html

A summary of the medieval times and literature is available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval

May 28, 2005  reply from Barbara Scofield [scofield@GSM.UDALLAS.EDU]

Thank you for the notice about the availability of the medieval manuscripts on the Internet through the project Parker on the Web at Stanford University. Two manuscripts are currently available, and on page 11 of the English translation of Matthew Paris's "English History From 1235 to 1273" I have already found references to accounting (see below).

Accountants are still using the principle "under whatever name it may be called" and entities are still making up new names for inconvenient economic events in the hopes of avoiding full disclosure.

At this Catholic liberal arts university Shakespeare is modern, and the medieval world is revered, so I'm interested in gaining some insight into the medieval worldview.

Barbara W. Scofield, PhD, CPA
Associate Professor of Accounting
University of Dallas
1845 E. Northgate Irving, TX 75062
Braniff 262
scofield@gsm.udallas.edu 

 

 

 


Here’s an expanded view of questions raised about which constituencies credit rating agencies (and by analogy auditing firms) really serve.

A message forwarded by my anonymous friend Larry on October 18, 2009

How Moody's sold its ratings -- and sold out investors | McClatchy ---
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/politics/story/77244.html
Instead, Moody's promoted executives who headed its "structured finance" division, which assisted Wall Street in packaging loans into securities for sale to investors. It also stacked its compliance department with the people who awarded the highest ratings to pools of mortgages that soon were downgraded to junk. Such products have another name now: "toxic assets."

"In 2001, Moody's had revenues of $800.7 million; in 2005, they were up to $1.73 billion; and in 2006, $2.037 billion. The exploding profits were fees from packaging . . . and for granting the top-class AAA ratings, which were supposed to mean they were as safe as U.S. government securities," said Lawrence McDonald in his recent book, "A Colossal Failure of Common Sense."

Nobody cared about due diligence so long as the money kept pouring in during the housing boom. Moody's stock peaked in February 2007 at more than $72 a share.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett's firm Berkshire Hathaway owned 15 percent of Moody's stock by the end of 2001, company reports show. That stake, largely still intact, meant that the Oracle from Omaha reaped huge financial rewards while Moody's overlooked the glaring problems in pools of subprime mortgages.

A Berkshire spokeswoman had no comment.

Moody's wasn't alone in ignoring the mounting problems. It wasn't even first among competitors. The financial industry newsletter Asset-Backed Alert found that Standard & Poor's participated in 1,962 deals in 2006 involving pools of loans, while Moody's did 1,697. In 2005, Standard & Poor's did 1,754 deals to Moody's 1,120. Fitch was well behind both.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/politics/story/77244.html

Jensen Comment
I’m frantically searching the writings of my very technical hero, Janet Tavakoli, to discover that all this is not true about my other hero, Warren Buffett. Of course there are huge unknowns, at this point in time, and varying degrees of culpability.

Janet is pretty rough on the ratings agencies in her writings. However, she’s always kind to Warren. One of my all-time favorite books is her Dear Mr. Buffet book. On Page 107, Janet writes as follows:

At the end of 2007, Berkshire Hathaway owned 78 million shares of Moody’s Corporation, one of the top three rating agencies (the same shares owned when I first met Warren Buffett in 2005), representing just over 19 percent of the capital stock. The cot basis of the shares is $499 million. At the end of 200, the value was just under $1 billion. By the end of 2006, the value was around $3.3 billion, but it dropped to $1.7 billion at the end of 2007. The sharp increase in revenues is due chiefly to revenues generated from rating structured financial products, and the sharp decrease was due to the disillusionment of the market with the integrity of the ratings.

On Page 109, Janet continues to berate the rating agency cartel (where I think it might be possible to substitute auditors for rating agencies interchangeably):

The rating agencies seem to not care about the market’s forgiveness since not only have they not apologized ---  a necessary but not sufficient condition --- they seem to feel the market should change. Specifically, the market should change its point of view about what it expects from the rating agencies. Yet it seems that the market has the right to expect rating agencies to follow the basic principles of statistics.

The tactic has mainly been successful because the rating agencies act as a cartel, leveraging their joint power to have fees magically converge and have ratings so similar that they have participated overrating AAA structured products backed by dodgy loans in 2007 that took substantial principal losses. Meanwhile, many market professionals, including me, pointed out in print that the AAA ratings were maeaningless. The rating agencies presented a farily united front in defending their methods (except for Fitch, which also participated on overrated CDOs and later seemed more responsive to downgrading structured products.

. . .

“Ma and pa” retail investors found that AAA product ended up in their pension funds and mutual funds because their money managers gave too much credence to an AAA rating.

But nowhere have I yet found where Janet alludes to any insider profiteering on the part of Warren Buffett who also lost billions of dollars in the crash The difference between “ma and pa” and Mr. Buffet is that a billion dollars is pocket change to Warren Buffet. He can easily recoup his losses legitimately in trades with stupid hedge fund managers and bankers that rely too much on fallible models (at least that’s what mathematician Janet Tavakoli tells us in a very enlightening way).

Expert Financial Predictions (Jon Stewart's hindsight video scrapbook) --- http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/post.aspx?bid=354&bpid=23077&nlid=1840
You have to watch the first third of this video before it gets into the scrapbook itself
The problem unmentioned here is one faced by auditors and credit rating agencies of risky clients every day:  Predictions are often self fulfilling
If an auditor issues going concern exceptions in audit reports, the exceptions themselves will probably contribute to the downfall of the clients
The same can be said by financial analysts who elect to trash a company's financial outlook
Hence we have the age-old conflict between holding back on what you really secretly predict versus pulling the fire alarm on a troubled company
There are no easy answers here except to conclude that it auditors and credit rating agencies appeared to not reveal many of their inner secret predictions in 2008
Auditing firms and credit rating agencies lost a lot of credibility in this economic crisis, but they've survived many such stains on their reputations in the past
By now we're used to the fact that the public is generally aware of the fire before the auditors and credit rating agencies pull the alarm lever
On the other hand, financial wizards who pull the alarm lever on nearly every company all the time lose their credibility in a hurry

Video:  Warren Buffett's Secrets To Success --- http://www.businessinsider.com/business-news/nov-24-alice1-2009-11 '

Bob Jensen's threads on credit rating agencies are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm#CreditRatingAgencies

Bob Jensen's threads on auditor professionalism are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/fraud001.htm#Professionalism

 


FASB Codification Database Supersedes All FASB Standards

Countdown to Codification Alert:  FASB Alert #4, 5-22-09

What happens to U.S. GAAP literature when the Codification went live on July 1, 2009?
All existing standards that were used to create the Codification will become superseded upon the adoption of the Codification.  The FASB will no longer update and maintain the superseded standards. Also, upon adoption of the Codification, the U.S. GAAP hierarchy will flatten from five levels to two­authoritative and non-authoritative.  The following table illustrates the result:

 
DON’T BE CAUGHT OFF GUARD!  GET READY FOR THE CODIFICATION!
 
The FASB instituted a major change in the way accounting standards are organized. The FASB Accounting Standards CodificationTM is expected to become the single official source of authoritative, nongovernmental U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).
  After final approval by the FASB only one level of authoritative GAAP will exist, other than guidance issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). All other literature will be non-authoritative.
 
While the FASB Codification is designed to make it much easier to research accounting issues, the transition to use of the Codification will require some advance training.  These weekly “Countdown to Codification” alerts are designed to provide tips to make that transition easier.
 
The FASB offers a free online tutorial at http://asc.fasb.org.  A recorded instructional webcast­The Move to Codification of US GAAP, first presented live on March 13, 2008­also is available at http://www.fasb.org/fasb_webcast_series/index.shtml. In addition, Codification training opportunities are offered through professional accounting organizations such as the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

For the PwC Codification Guide I snipped the URL to
http://snipurl.com/ifrs-litevsheavy

The original link is at
http://www.pwc.com/en_GX/gx/ifrs-reporting/pdf/Sims_diffs_IFRS_SMEs.pdf

Deloitte’s Codification helpers are linked at
http://www.iasplus.com/usa/fasb/0906codification.pdf


ASC = Accounting Standard Codification of the FASB

January 8, 2013 message from Zane Swanson

Another faculty person created a video (link follows)
http://www.screencast.com/t/K8gruSHTv

which introduces the ASC.  This video has potential value at the beginning of the semester to acquaint students with the ASC.  I am thinking about posting the clip to AAA commons.  But, where should it be posted and does this type of thing get posted in multiple interest group areas?

 Any thoughts / suggestions?

Zane Swanson
www.askaref.com a handheld device source of ASC information

Jensen Comment
A disappointment for colleges and students is that access to the Codification database is not free. The FASB does offer deeply discounted prices to colleges but not to individual teachers or students.

There are other access routes that are not free such as the PwC Comperio ---
http://www.pwc.com/gx/en/comperio/index.jhtml

Hi Zane,
 
This is a great video helper for learning how to use the FASB.s Codification database.
 
An enormous disappointment to me is how the Codification omits many, many illustrations in the pre-codification pronouncements that are still available electronically as PDF files. In particular, the best way to learn a very complicated standard like FAS 133 is to study the illustrations in the original FAS 133, FAS 138, etc.
 
The FASB paid a fortune for experts to develop the illustrations in the pre-codification  pronouncements. It's sad that those investments are wasted in the Codification database.
 
What is even worse is that accounting teachers are forgetting to go to the pre-codification pronouncements for wonderful illustrations to use in class and illustrations for CPA exam preparation ---
http://www.fasb.org/jsp/FASB/Page/PreCodSectionPage&cid=1218220137031
 
Sadly the FASB no longer seems to invest as much in illustrations for new pronouncements in the Codification database.

Bob Jensen

 

Examples of great FAS 133 pre-codification illustrations are as follows:

              
[   ] 133ex01a.xls                     12-Jun-2008 03:50  345K  
[   ] 133ex02.doc                      17-Feb-2004 06:00  2.1M  
[   ] 133ex02a.xls                     12-Jun-2008 03:48  279K  
[   ] 133ex03a.xls                     04-Apr-2001 06:45   92K  
[   ] 133ex04a.xls                     12-Jun-2008 03:50  345K  
[TXT] 133ex05.htm                      04-Apr-2001 06:45  371K  
[   ] 133ex05a.xls                     12-Jun-2008 03:49  1.5M  
[TXT] 133ex05aSupplement.htm           26-Mar-2005 13:59   57K  
[   ] 133ex05aSupplement.xls           26-Mar-2005 13:50   32K  
[TXT] 133ex05d.htm                     26-Mar-2005 13:59   56K  
[   ] 133ex06a.xls                     29-Sep-2001 11:43  123K  
[   ] 133ex07a.xls                     08-Mar-2004 16:26  1.2M  
[   ] 133ex08a.xls                     29-Sep-2001 11:43  216K  
[   ] 133ex09a.xls                     12-Jun-2008 03:49   99K  
[   ] 133ex10.doc                      17-Feb-2004 16:37   80K  
[   ] 133ex10a.xls 
[TXT] 133summ.htm                      13-Feb-2004 10:50  121K  
[TXT] 138EXAMPLES.htm                  30-Apr-2004 08:39  355K  
[TXT] 138bench.htm                     07-Dec-2007 05:37  139K  
[   ] 138ex01a.xls                     09-Mar-2001 13:20  1.7M  
[TXT] 138exh01.htm                     09-Mar-2001 13:20   31K  
[TXT] 138exh02.htm                     09-Mar-2001 13:20   65K  
[TXT] 138exh03.htm                     09-Mar-2001 13:20   42K  
[TXT] 138exh04.htm                     09-Mar-2001 13:20  108K  
[TXT] 138exh04a.htm                    09-Mar-2001 13:20  8.2K  
[   ] 138intro.doc                     09-Mar-2001 13:20   95K  
[TXT] 138intro.htm                     09-M

Others --- http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/

 

 


The following message was forwarded by David Albrecht on June 16, 2009

From: "Tracey E. Sutherland" <traceysutherland@aaahq.org>
Organization: American Accounting Association
Date: Tue, 16 Jun 2009 17:25:23 -0400

FAF and AAA to Provide FASB Codification to Faculty and Students

On July 1, 2009, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) is instituting a major change in the way accounting standards are organized. On that date, the FASB Accounting Standards Codification™ (FASB Codification) will become the single official source of authoritative, nongovernmental U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (U.S. GAAP).  After that date, only one level of authoritative U.S. GAAP will exist, other than guidance issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  All other literature will be non-authoritative.

As part of its educational mission, the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF), the oversight and administrative body of the FASB, in a joint initiative with the American Accounting Association (AAA), will provide faculty and students in accounting programs at post-secondary academic institutions with the Professional View of the online FASB Codification.

Accounting Program Access—No Cost to Individual Faculty or Students
The Professional View of the FASB Codification will be accessible at no cost to individual faculty and students, through the AAA’s Academic Access program, available to Registered Accounting Programs.  The Professional View will provide advanced search functions with special utilities to assist in the navigation of content, representing the fully functional view of the FASB Codification that will be used by auditors, financial analysts, investors, and preparers of financial statements.  All of the features that have been available with the verification version currently at http://asc.fasb.org are included with the Professional View.
AAA Academic Access

The AAA will provide direct services to accounting departments through its Academic Access program; issuing authentication credentials for faculty and students through Registered Accounting Programs, at a low annual institutional fee of $150.  Information about this program will be forthcoming directly from AAA and on the AAA website at http://aaahq.org/FASB/Access.cfm.

Transitional Access—From July 1 through August 31, 2009
The AAA will provide credentials to individual faculty and students, at no charge, during the transition period before the beginning of the fall semester when faculty and students will receive credentials for access through their Registered Accounting Programs.

The FAF, FASB, and AAA are enthusiastic about this new initiative and understand the value of this program to accounting education and scholarship, in addition to its benefit to faculty and students to have access to the advanced view of U.S. GAAP that will be used by accounting professionals.


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American Accounting Association | 5717 Bessie Drive | Sarasota, FL 34233-2399 | Phone: (941) 921-7747 | Fax: (941) 923-4093 | Office@aaahq.org

The FASB home page is at http://www.fasb.org/home

June 24, 2009 Update
There was some doubt initially about whether the free or discounted faculty and student access version of the FASB Codification database would be the "Professional" version (that includes searching and cross-referencing at an $850 single user license per year).

The AAA registration site for the discounted ($150 annual discount price) version makes it clear that accounting education departments or schools will get the full "Professional" version at a discount, thereby saving each academic program $700 per year savings per license. What is not yet perfectly clear is whether this is a single-user access license. My reading is that multiple users within a department or school can use the Codification database at the same time. I could be wrong.

The AAA program enrollment site for this discounted version is http://aaahq.org/FASB/Access.cfm 
The form is at https://aaahq.org/AAAforms/FASB/enroll.cfm

Since all future financial statements will no longer reference hard copy sources like FAS 166 or EITF 98-1 or FIN 48, it is vital for students and teachers and researchers to have access to the Codification database for financial statement analysis.

Reasons why registration for the Codification database are important are given at http://www.cfo.com/article.cfm/13854787/c_2984368/?f=archives
Also see http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#MethodsForSetting

All users will have free access to the Codification database, but not the free access to the $850 “Professional” searching and cross-referencing services.

 


FREE access to ANNUAL REPORTS in XBRL --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/XBRLandOLAP.htm#TimelineXBRL
From EDGAR Online --- http://www.tryxbrl.org/

Finance Test Questions --- http://financetestquestions.wikispaces.com/

Watch the Video
"Sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees," by Jim Mahar, FinanceProfessor Blog, May 27, 2009 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/sometimes-we-cant-see-forest-for-trees.html

Part Behavioral finance, part cycling, and part a study in how the brain works, the following "Test" is eye opening at least.

We all get so caught up in seeing what we want to see that we sometimes miss the obvious. This effects us in many ways: In finance, if bullish (optimistic), we are more apt to see the good news, if bearish (pessimistic) you see only bad news.

That is one reason why big break throughs happen from those outside the field. It is one reason why sabbaticals and vacations are important. But it can also have important implications in many other ways.

Go ahead, take the test. It takes about a minute --- Click Here

 

 

You can order back issues or relevant links management and accounting books and journals from MAAW --- http://maaw.info/

Free Access to Back Issues of The Accounting Review --- http://maaw.info/TheAccountingReview.htm 

Bob Jensen's threads on special purpose (variable interest) entities are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/speOverview.htm

"Visualization of Multidimensional Data" --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/352wpVisual/000DataVisualization.htm 

Bob Jensen's threads on XBRL are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/XBRLandOLAP.htm#XBRLextended 

Accounting for Electronic Commerce, Including Controversies on Business Valuation, ROI, and Revenue Reporting --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce.htm 

Comparisons of International IAS Versus FASB Standards --- http://www.deloitte.com/dtt/cda/doc/content/pocketiasus.pdf 

Bob Jensen's Enron Quiz (with answers) --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnronQuiz.htm

Tom Selling's blog The Accounting Onion (great on theory and practice) --- http://accountingonion.typepad.com/

"Corporate Reports Now Searchable Via EDGAR," SmartPros, June 16, 2006 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x53502.xml

Investors and analysts can now search the full text of every SEC document filed by companies within the last two years. They'll also be able to retrieve mutual fund filings by fund or share class.

The company filing search engine enables real-time, full-text searches of filings on the entirety of the SEC's EDGAR (Electronic Document, Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval) database of company filings for the last two years. The tool can be found at http://www.sec.gov/edgar/searchedgar/webusers.htm.

SEC Chairman Christopher Cox, a strong proponent of using the Internet to post dynamic financial reports and to serve as a tool for investors and analysts made the announcement in his opening remarks at the SEC's Interactive Data Roundtable in Washington, D.C.

"This new full-text search capability will give investors and analysts instant access to the specific information they want," said Cox.

The new mutual fund search capability was made possible when the SEC recently required that filings contain a unique numerical identifier for each fund and share class. Investors will be able to find relevant filings by searching for the name of their own fund. In the past, searching for information on particular funds and particular share classes within funds was very difficult, because a single prospectus might contain information about many mutual funds and share classes.

The SEC is asking users of this Web site feature to supply feedback, including suggestions for additional functions, so that further improvements to the site can be considered and implemented.

 

Paul Pacter has been working hard to both maintain his international accounting site and to produce a comparison guide between international and Chinese GAAP.  He states the following on May 26, 2005 at http://www.iasplus.com/index.htm 

May 26, 2005:  Deloitte (China) has published a comparison of accounting standards in the People's Republic of China and International Financial Reporting Standards as of March 2005. The comparison is available in both English and Chinese. China has different levels of accounting standards that apply to different classes of entities. The comparison relates to the standards applicable to the largest companies (including all non-financial listed and foreign-invested enterprises) and identifies major accounting recognition and measurement differences. Click to download:

 
 

 


The chronology of events leading up to European adoption if common international accounting standards --- http://www.iasplus.com/restruct/resteuro.htm

Large International Accounting Firm History --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Four_auditors

Tom Selling's blog The Accounting Onion (great on theory and practice) --- http://accountingonion.typepad.com/
 

This is a Good Summary of Various Forms of Business Risk  ---
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Risk_management

  1. Enterprise Risk Management

  2. Credit Risk

  3. Market Risk

  4. Operational Risk

  5. Business Risk

  6. Other Types of Risk?


I think a case can be made that the IASB is becoming more Bayesian as tests of credit risk of cash flow impairments become weighted by subjective probability distributions. Hence we have to dredge up more of the old Bayesian theory for students if the IASB heads full bore into using subjective probability distributions for credit impairment, fair value, etc. Reverend Bayes may be smiling down on the FASB. I am not so enthusiastic about how it will help investors to add this subjectivity to financial reporting ---
http://www.iasplus.com/dttletr/1007amortcost.pdf 

"Beyond Bayes: causality vs correlation," by Steve Hsu Professor of physics at the University of Oregon, Information Processing, July 10, 2010 ---
http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2010/07/beyond-bayes-causality-vs-correlation.html

A draft paper by Harvard graduate student James Lee (student of Steve Pinker; I'd love to post the paper here but don't know yet if that's OK) got me interested in the work of statistical learning pioneer Judea Pearl. I found the essay Bayesianism and Causality, or, why I am only a half-Bayesian (excerpted below) a concise, and provocative, introduction to his ideas.

Pearl is correct to say that humans think in terms of causal models, rather than in terms of correlation. Our brains favor simple, linear narratives. The effectiveness of physics is a consequence of the fact that descriptions of natural phenomena are compressible into simple causal models. (Or, perhaps it just looks that way to us ;-)
 

Judea Pearl: I turned Bayesian in 1971, as soon as I began reading Savage’s monograph The Foundations of Statistical Inference [Savage, 1962]. The arguments were unassailable: (i) It is plain silly to ignore what we know, (ii) It is natural and useful to cast what we know in the language of probabilities, and (iii) If our subjective probabilities are erroneous, their impact will get washed out in due time, as the number of observations increases.

Thirty years later, I am still a devout Bayesian in the sense of (i), but I now doubt the wisdom of (ii) and I know that, in general, (iii) is false. Like most Bayesians, I believe that the knowledge we carry in our skulls, be its origin experience, schooling or hearsay, is an invaluable resource in all human activity, and that combining this knowledge with empirical data is the key to scientific enquiry and intelligent behavior. Thus, in this broad sense, I am a still Bayesian. However, in order to be combined with data, our knowledge must first be cast in some formal language, and what I have come to realize in the past ten years is that the language of probability is not suitable for the task; the bulk of human knowledge is organized around causal, not probabilistic relationships, and the grammar of probability calculus is insufficient for capturing those relationships. Specifically, the building blocks of our scientific and everyday knowledge are elementary facts such as “mud does not cause rain” and “symptoms do not cause disease” and those facts, strangely enough, cannot be expressed in the vocabulary of probability calculus. It is for this reason that I consider myself only a half-Bayesian. ...

"Why Bayesian Rationality Is Empty, Perfect Rationality Doesn’t Exist, Ecological Rationality Is Too Simple, and Critical Rationality Does the Job,"
Simoleon Sense, February 15, 2010 --- Click Here
http://www.simoleonsense.com/why-bayesian-rationality-is-empty-perfect-rationality-doesn%e2%80%99t-exist-ecological-rationality-is-too-simple-and-critical-rationality-does-the-job/

"An Intuitive Explanation of Bayes':  Theorem:  Bayes' Theorem for the curious and bewildered; an excruciatingly gentle introduction," by Eliezer S., Yudkowsky, August 2009 --- http://yudkowsky.net/rational/bayes

I think a case can be made that the IASB is becoming more Bayesian as tests of credit risk of cash flow impairments become weighted by subjective probability distributions. Hence we have to dredge up more of the old Bayesian theory for students if the IASB heads full bore into using subjective probability distributions for credit impairment, fair value, etc. Reverend Bayes may be smiling down on the FASB. I am not so enthusiastic about how it will help investors to add this subjectivity to financial reporting ---
http://www.iasplus.com/dttletr/1007amortcost.pdf 

"Beyond Bayes: causality vs correlation," by Steve Hsu Professor of physics at the University of Oregon, Information Processing, July 10, 2010 ---
http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2010/07/beyond-bayes-causality-vs-correlation.html

A draft paper by Harvard graduate student James Lee (student of Steve Pinker; I'd love to post the paper here but don't know yet if that's OK) got me interested in the work of statistical learning pioneer Judea Pearl. I found the essay Bayesianism and Causality, or, why I am only a half-Bayesian (excerpted below) a concise, and provocative, introduction to his ideas.

Pearl is correct to say that humans think in terms of causal models, rather than in terms of correlation. Our brains favor simple, linear narratives. The effectiveness of physics is a consequence of the fact that descriptions of natural phenomena are compressible into simple causal models. (Or, perhaps it just looks that way to us ;-)
 

Judea Pearl: I turned Bayesian in 1971, as soon as I began reading Savage’s monograph The Foundations of Statistical Inference [Savage, 1962]. The arguments were unassailable: (i) It is plain silly to ignore what we know, (ii) It is natural and useful to cast what we know in the language of probabilities, and (iii) If our subjective probabilities are erroneous, their impact will get washed out in due time, as the number of observations increases.

Thirty years later, I am still a devout Bayesian in the sense of (i), but I now doubt the wisdom of (ii) and I know that, in general, (iii) is false. Like most Bayesians, I believe that the knowledge we carry in our skulls, be its origin experience, schooling or hearsay, is an invaluable resource in all human activity, and that combining this knowledge with empirical data is the key to scientific enquiry and intelligent behavior. Thus, in this broad sense, I am a still Bayesian. However, in order to be combined with data, our knowledge must first be cast in some formal language, and what I have come to realize in the past ten years is that the language of probability is not suitable for the task; the bulk of human knowledge is organized around causal, not probabilistic relationships, and the grammar of probability calculus is insufficient for capturing those relationships. Specifically, the building blocks of our scientific and everyday knowledge are elementary facts such as “mud does not cause rain” and “symptoms do not cause disease” and those facts, strangely enough, cannot be expressed in the vocabulary of probability calculus. It is for this reason that I consider myself only a half-Bayesian. ...

Statistics Lesson:  Spanking is a cause of lower IQ?
U.S. children who were spanked had lower IQs four years later than those not spanked, researchers found. University of New Hampshire Professor Murray Straus, who is presenting the findings Friday at the 14th International Conference on Violence, Abuse and Trauma, in San Diego, called the study "groundbreaking." "The results of this research have major implications for the well being of children across the globe," Straus said in a statement. "It is time for psychologists to recognize the need to help parents end the use of corporal punishment and incorporate that objective into their teaching and clinical practice." "How often parents spanked made a difference. The more spanking the, the slower the development of the child's mental ability," Straus said. "But even small amounts of spanking made a difference."
"Study: Spanking linked to lower IQ," Breitbart, September 25, 2009 ---
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=upiUPI-20090925-121520-9596&show_article=1&catnum=0

Jensen Comment
I think Straus was frequently spanked as a child. Could it be that lower IQ students get more frustrated and are inclined toward greater degrees of misbehavior?

This is a little like the historic 0.63 correlation between stork nests and birth rates --- http://www.jstor.org/pss/2983064


"You Might Already Know This ... ," by Benedict Carey, The New York Times, January 10, 2011 ---
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/11/science/11esp.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=general

In recent weeks, editors at a respected psychology journal have been taking heat from fellow scientists for deciding to accept a research report that claims to show the existence of extrasensory perception.

The report, to be published this year in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, is not likely to change many minds. And the scientific critiques of the research methods and data analysis of its author, Daryl J. Bem (and the peer reviewers who urged that his paper be accepted), are not winning over many hearts.

Yet the episode has inflamed one of the longest-running debates in science. For decades, some statisticians have argued that the standard technique used to analyze data in much of social science and medicine overstates many study findings — often by a lot. As a result, these experts say, the literature is littered with positive findings that do not pan out: “effective” therapies that are no better than a placebo; slight biases that do not affect behavior; brain-imaging correlations that are meaningless.

By incorporating statistical techniques that are now widely used in other sciences — genetics, economic modeling, even wildlife monitoring — social scientists can correct for such problems, saving themselves (and, ahem, science reporters) time, effort and embarrassment.

“I was delighted that this ESP paper was accepted in a mainstream science journal, because it brought this whole subject up again,” said James Berger, a statistician at Duke University. “I was on a mini-crusade about this 20 years ago and realized that I could devote my entire life to it and never make a dent in the problem.”

In recent weeks, editors at a respected psychology journal have been taking heat from fellow scientists for deciding to accept a research report that claims to show the existence of extrasensory perception.

The report, to be published this year in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, is not likely to change many minds. And the scientific critiques of the research methods and data analysis of its author, Daryl J. Bem (and the peer reviewers who urged that his paper be accepted), are not winning over many hearts.

Yet the episode has inflamed one of the longest-running debates in science. For decades, some statisticians have argued that the standard technique used to analyze data in much of social science and medicine overstates many study findings — often by a lot. As a result, these experts say, the literature is littered with positive findings that do not pan out: “effective” therapies that are no better than a placebo; slight biases that do not affect behavior; brain-imaging correlations that are meaningless.

By incorporating statistical techniques that are now widely used in other sciences — genetics, economic modeling, even wildlife monitoring — social scientists can correct for such problems, saving themselves (and, ahem, science reporters) time, effort and embarrassment.

“I was delighted that this ESP paper was accepted in a mainstream science journal, because it brought this whole subject up again,” said James Berger, a statistician at Duke University. “I was on a mini-crusade about this 20 years ago and realized that I could devote my entire life to it and never make a dent in the problem.”

The statistical approach that has dominated the social sciences for almost a century is called significance testing. The idea is straightforward. A finding from any well-designed study — say, a correlation between a personality trait and the risk of depression — is considered “significant” if its probability of occurring by chance is less than 5 percent.

This arbitrary cutoff makes sense when the effect being studied is a large one — for example, when measuring the so-called Stroop effect. This effect predicts that naming the color of a word is faster and more accurate when the word and color match (“red” in red letters) than when they do not (“red” in blue letters), and is very strong in almost everyone.

“But if the true effect of what you are measuring is small,” said Andrew Gelman, a professor of statistics and political science at Columbia University, “then by necessity anything you discover is going to be an overestimate” of that effect.

Consider the following experiment. Suppose there was reason to believe that a coin was slightly weighted toward heads. In a test, the coin comes up heads 527 times out of 1,000.

Is this significant evidence that the coin is weighted?

Classical analysis says yes. With a fair coin, the chances of getting 527 or more heads in 1,000 flips is less than 1 in 20, or 5 percent, the conventional cutoff. To put it another way: the experiment finds evidence of a weighted coin “with 95 percent confidence.”

Yet many statisticians do not buy it. One in 20 is the probability of getting any number of heads above 526 in 1,000 throws. That is, it is the sum of the probability of flipping 527, the probability of flipping 528, 529 and so on.

But the experiment did not find all of the numbers in that range; it found just one — 527. It is thus more accurate, these experts say, to calculate the probability of getting that one number — 527 — if the coin is weighted, and compare it with the probability of getting the same number if the coin is fair.

Statisticians can show that this ratio cannot be higher than about 4 to 1, according to Paul Speckman, a statistician, who, with Jeff Rouder, a psychologist, provided the example. Both are at the University of Missouri and said that the simple experiment represented a rough demonstration of how classical analysis differs from an alternative approach, which emphasizes the importance of comparing the odds of a study finding to something that is known.

The point here, said Dr. Rouder, is that 4-to-1 odds “just aren’t that convincing; it’s not strong evidence.”

And yet classical significance testing “has been saying for at least 80 years that this is strong evidence,” Dr. Speckman said in an e-mail.

The critics have been crying foul for half that time. In the 1960s, a team of statisticians led by Leonard Savage at the University of Michigan showed that the classical approach could overstate the significance of the finding by a factor of 10 or more. By that time, a growing number of statisticians were developing methods based on the ideas of the 18th-century English mathematician Thomas Bayes.

Bayes devised a way to update the probability for a hypothesis as new evidence comes in.

So in evaluating the strength of a given finding, Bayesian (pronounced BAYZ-ee-un) analysis incorporates known probabilities, if available, from outside the study.

It might be called the “Yeah, right” effect. If a study finds that kumquats reduce the risk of heart disease by 90 percent, that a treatment cures alcohol addiction in a week, that sensitive parents are twice as likely to give birth to a girl as to a boy, the Bayesian response matches that of the native skeptic: Yeah, right. The study findings are weighed against what is observable out in the world.

In at least one area of medicine — diagnostic screening tests — researchers already use known probabilities to evaluate new findings. For instance, a new lie-detection test may be 90 percent accurate, correctly flagging 9 out of 10 liars. But if it is given to a population of 100 people already known to include 10 liars, the test is a lot less impressive.

It correctly identifies 9 of the 10 liars and misses one; but it incorrectly identifies 9 of the other 90 as lying. Dividing the so-called true positives (9) by the total number of people the test flagged (18) gives an accuracy rate of 50 percent. The “false positives” and “false negatives” depend on the known rates in the population.

Continued in article

What went wrong with accountics research ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#WhatWentWrong


Skills and knowledge should be required as part of the pre-certification education of CPAs
Prompted by New York’s forthcoming adoption of the 150-hour requirement to sit for the CPA exam, the NYSSCPA’s Quality Enhancement Policy Committee drafted a white paper to encourage discussion on what skills and knowledge should be required as part of the pre-certification education of CPAs. This white paper, which was approved by the Society’s Board of Directors, is presented here, along with additional commentary from the NYSSCPA’s Higher Education Committee.
Quality Enhancement Policy Committee Sharon Sabba Fierstein, Chair, August 2008 --- http://www.nysscpa.org/cpajournal/2008/808/infocus/p26.htm

Mary-Jo Kranacher Editorial, CPA Journal, August 2008 --- http://www.nysscpa.org/cpajournal/2008/808/essentials/p80.htm

Specific requirements for becoming a CPA, and the rights and obligations of a licensed CPA, are set forth in the laws and regulations of 54 United States jurisdictions --- http://www.cpa-exam.org/global/boards.html

NASBA Tools --- http://www.nasbatools.com/display_page
NASBA Resources (Includes documents and audio files on knowledge requirements) --- http://www.nasba.org/nasbaweb/NASBAWeb.nsf/wpmtp?openform

Free and Fee CPA Review Courses --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#010303CPAExam

Bob Jensen's threads on accountancy careers --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#careers

"Pre-Med Education Must Be Compatible with Liberal Arts Ideals," by Timothy R. Austin, Inside Higher Ed, July 31, 2008 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2008/07/31/austin

Also see http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#CatFights

Peter, Paul, and Barney: An Essay on 2008 U.S. Government Bailouts of Private Companies ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm


"SEC Comments and Trends An analysis of current Reporting Issues," Ernst & Young, October 2012 --- Click Here
http://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssetsAL/SECCommentsTrends_CC0357_October2012/$FILE/SECCommentsTrends_CC0357_October2012.pdf

Every year, we track the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) staff’s comments on public company filings to provide you with insights on the SEC staff’s concerns and areas of focus. Although each registrant’s facts and circumstances are different, the economic conditions in which they operate and their financial reporting challenges are often similar. Understanding the comments and trends discussed in this publication can help as you head into the year-end reporting season.

In its comments, the SEC staff questions disclosures that may conflict with SEC rules or accounting principles, as well as disclosures the SEC staff believes could be enhanced or clarified. The resolutions vary. In some cases, registrants sufficiently support their existing accounting or disclosures, and in others they agree to expand disclosures in future filings or amend previous filings. Appendix C of this publication provides an overview of the SEC staff filing review process, as well as best practices for responding to staff comments. While the SEC staff continues to comment on familiar topics such as significant estimates, revenue recognition, impairment and financial instruments, it has increased its focus in other areas, including:

• Nonperformance covenants contained in lease agreements and how these contractual provisions affect the classification of leases

• Pro forma financial information disclosed in registration statements and Form 8-Ks reporting a significant acquisition, including how the requirements of Article 11 of Regulation S-X have been met for various pro forma adjustments

• The presentation of guarantor condensed consolidating information pursuant to the relief provided in Rule 3-10 of Regulation S-X

Segment reporting continues to be a common area of focus in SEC comment letters. The SEC staff often considers disaggregated information to be better for users of financial statements. As a result, the staff frequently questions registrants’ conclusions about operating segments being economically similar and their aggregation into a reportable segment. The SEC staff also requests that registrants provide more robust analysis of their segments in their MD&A.

The number of SEC staff comments on loss contingency disclosure requirements has stabilized over the past year. While the SEC staff has said that it has seen improvement in the disclosure of loss contingencies, it is expected to continue to focus on evaluating and enforcing compliance with ASC 450 in its filing reviews.

The SEC staff continues to focus on disclosures for registrants with foreign operations. In particular, the SEC staff has been questioning the tax effects of operating in foreign jurisdictions, including the effects on liquidity of indefinitely reinvesting foreign earnings. The SEC staff also has been asking registrants to provide more detailed disclosures about any exposure they may have to European debt. To help companies determine what to disclose about their exposures to countries experiencing significant economic, fiscal or political challenges, the SEC staff issued CF Disclosure Guidance: Topic No. 4: European Sovereign Debt Exposures in January 2012. CF disclosure guidance is a new type of interpretive guidance that the SEC staff has been using to provide observations and views about disclosures required by existing SEC rules and regulations.

Management’s discussion and analysis (MD&A) ....................................... 1

Critical accounting estimates .......................................................................... 1

Liquidity and capital resources ....................................................................... 3

Non-GAAP financial measures ........................................................................ 7

Results of operations ..................................................................................... 9

SEC reporting issues ............................................................................ 11

Board structure and nominee criteria ............................................................ 11

Emerging growth companies ........................................................................ 12

Executive compensation disclosures ............................................................. 14

Guarantor financial information .................................................................... 16

Internal control over financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures .................................................................................. 19

Materiality ................................................................................................... 21

Pro forma adjustments ............................................................................... 22

Related-party transactions ........................................................................ 24

Risk factors ....................................................................................... .......... 25

State sponsors of terrorism ........................................................................ 27

XBRL exhibits ................................................................................... ........... 28

Other SEC reporting issues ......................................................................... 30

Financial statement presentation..................................................     ........ 31

Accounts receivable ..................................................................        ........... 34

Business combinations ..........................................................       ............... 36

Contingencies ....................................................................          .................. 38

Debt .....................................................................................             ................ 40

Fair value measurements .................................................        .................... 41

Financial instruments ...................................................       ........................ 44

Goodwill .......................................................................           ........................ 48

Impairment of long-lived assets ..............................      .............................. 51

Income taxes ............................................................................           ............ 53

Intangible assets ...................................................................          ............... 57

Investments in debt and equity securities .......................    ...................... 60

Leases ....................................................................................             ............. 64

Pension and other postretirement employee benefit plans .................... 65

Revenue recognition ..................................................................         .......... 68

Segment reporting .................................................................          .............. 73

Share-based payments ......................................................          ................... 77

Appendix A: Industry supplements ............    .................. 82

Automotive supplement ......................................................  ......................... 82    

Banking supplement ..........................................................   ........................... 84

Insurance supplement .................................................   ................................. 93

Life sciences supplement ........................................................  ...................... 95

Media and entertainment supplement ..................................... ................... 106

Mining and metals supplement .................................................................... 108

Oil and gas supplement ........................................................    ...................... 110   

Provider care supplement................................................    ........................... 115

Real estate supplement ...............................................................     ............... 117   

Retail and consumer products supplement .................................................. 120

Technology supplement .............................................................    ................ 123

Telecommunications supplement ..........................................................  ...... 127

Appendix B: Foreign Private Issuers supplement ........... 128

Appendix C: SEC review process and best practices ...... 135

Appendix D: Abbreviations ................................................ 140

 

Bob Jensen's threads on accounting theory are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm

 

 


 

Where I Made My Money Consulting and How
If you think I’m a great fan of historical cost, Pat, you’re nuts.

Pat Walters at Fordham University asked how I found the time to make so many Camtasia videos on top of other things I do like send out AECM messages by the thousands.

My first answer is that the time I spent making most of my Camtasia videos actually saved me much more time, especially boring time at having to repeat demos to confused students who lined up outside may office all day long on many days. My second answer is that Camtasia videos, one in particular, led to a lot of consulting opportunities around the world.

First I should note that my teaching style has always been costly in terms of my time. When I taught any course I insisted on my students learning technical details. For example, when I taught Accounting Information Systems (AIS), I did not just teach the theory of relational databases. I insisted that my students learn relational database software, which happened to be MS Access because that’s the only relational database software that Trinity University would provide for my students.

I did not want to take up much class time demonstrating use of software. Instead, each week I passed out a list of Possible Quiz Questions (PQQs) where each PQQ had a recipe for doing a task in MS Access, usually by focusing on the Northwind Database that used to be available from Microsoft. In class each student had a computer in an electronic classroom. I randomly picked a few PQQs with changed inputs and gave a quiz in every class throughout the semester --- even if we were no longer even discussing database theory in class.

Invariably students or usually pairs of students could not get my PQQ recipes to fully work. I found myself spending a typical day repeatedly demonstrating the same thing over and over again to different pairs of students. So I commenced to make Camtasia videos that cut down over 95% of the student traffic regarding PQQ issues. You can sample one or more of my PQQ videos at http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/video/acct5342/

When I taught AIS I made my students learn how to use the Excel pivot tables provided with each of the Microsoft annual financial statements. These are a bit tricky to use, so I made the helper videos linked at
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/video/acct5342/MicrosoftPivots/ 

When I taught Accounting Theory, I made my students do XBRL financial statement analysis of a number of companies that the Korean KOSDAQ stock exchange marked up with XBRL tags. KOSDAQ provided reader software to analyze those tags. My students had great difficulty on these assignments --- so I made the XBRLdemos2005.wmv video file listed at http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/video/windowsmedia/

Now let’s talk about the most important video that I ever made ---
a video that helped me pay for my house up here in the mountains.


When I taught Accounting Theory, about a third of the course was spent on technical details in FAS 133 and IAS 39 and much of this time was spent on teaching the first 10 examples in Appendix B of FAS 133 for which my main teaching guides are the 133ex Excel Workbooks listed at http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/
These files still are being downloaded by thousands of strangers around the world.

But FAS 133 sometimes was not sufficiently detailed to suit me. For example, in Example 5 of FAS 133 the FASB simply provides the interest rate swap values out of thin air. I made my students learn how to value interest rate swaps. For this purpose I created the wonder video 133ex05a.wmv video file listed at
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/video/acct5341/

Supporting documentation can be found in the following two files listed at

133ex05a.xls (the Effective spreadsheet within this Excel workbook)
133ex05.htm file of a paper that Carl Hubbard and I published about swap valuation
Also see http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/acct5341/speakers/133swapvalue.htm
Much of what I learned about swap valuation I learned from Carl.

Largely due to the 133ex05.htm paper that Carl and I published, I have received over 1,000 inquiries by telephone or email from investment bankers, Big Four auditors, and accounting professors around the world asking me about swap valuation. Rather than repeat myself over and over, I request that each of them watch my 133ex05a.wmv video from beginning to end. That’s sometimes all they wanted to know, although on many occasions I get more complicated questions afterwards, some of which I cannot answer and some of which I can answer.

That one 133ex05a.wmv video plus my other free derivatives accounting files have led to many consulting trips in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, China, and Europe. It also led to invited lectures in those places plus New Zealand. The lecture visits are listed at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/resume.htm#Presentations
Consulting fees ranged from $8,000 per day at GE Capital to $0 for folks that really needed help in developing nations. A colleague professor of finance, Phil Cooley, always said I sold myself too cheap.  I think I usually was overpaid.

If you think I’m a great fan of historical cost, Pat, you’re nuts.
In retirement with my wife in ill health, I’ve cut back greatly on travel and even turned down an offer of two lucrative years in a think tank in Australia. But a few companies have since beat a path to my door up here in the White Mountains where I spend usually a day with them consulting on FAS 133 and in particular derivative financial instruments valuation. If you think I’m a great fan of historical cost, Pat, you’re nuts.

Now, Pat, when you ask me where I found the time to make all those Camtasia videos, my answer is that I made the time on a lot of Saturdays and Sundays in my office at Trinity University. And these videos saved me tenfold that amount of time with students. And they helped me buy a rather expensive home up here in the White Mountains.

My free FAS 133 and IAS 39 tutorials (some with audio and video files) are listed at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/caseans/000index.htm

My philosophy is that it’s better to give than receive, and I found that in the process I received more than I gave. I would not have learned nearly as much about FAS 133 and IAS 39 had I not given most of what I know away for free!

And the funny thing about consulting is that I often do not know the technical answers raised by finance experts who literally beat a path to my door. But I find that if we interactively begin to work through their problems they usually ending up paying me for answers they reason out by themselves from my ad hoc version of the Socratic process.
Dah

Bob Jensen's free FAS 133 and IAS tutorials (some with audio and video files) can be found at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/caseans/000index.htm


March 24, 2010 message to the AECM

I think professors who do not open share extensively on the Web miss the boat.
Selfishness has its own punishments, and generosity has its own rewards.
Scroll most of the way down in this message for an example from XXXXX

Will Yancey was a pioneer in open sharing on the Web ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Yancey.htm
Will made a very good living consulting and found that open sharing pays back enormously, much better in his case than any kind of paid advertising. But if you would’ve known Will you would’ve also discovered that he shared openly out of the kindness of his big heart. I doubt that he even thought about payback when he commenced to open share so generously.

I was also an early-on open sharing professor and never once did so with the thought of payback in mind. However, I am forwarding the message below to show that once of the benefits of open sharing is payback ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/threads.htm

Once again, however, I stress that I would open share if there was not a penny of monetary payback. I open share because it makes me feel good to make a difference in the academy of professors and students.

When you do open share technical content, potential clients find your work using Google, Bing, and other Web crawlers.
I think professors who do not open share extensively miss the boat.
Selfishness has its own punishments, and generosity has its own rewards.

My threads on this type of problem are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/acct5341/speakers/133swapvalue.htm

My excel workbook contains an “Effective” spreadsheet at in the 133ex05a.xls file at
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/

I also provide a 133ex05a.wmv video at
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/video/acct5341/

Professors Who Blog ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/accountingnews.htm

My Outstanding Educator Award Speech ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/AAAaward_files/AAAaward02.htm

From: XXXXX
Sent: Wednesday, March 24, 2010 4:26 PM
To: Jensen, Robert
Subject: Interest Rate Swap Valuation?

Hi Bob,

I found you on the internet. We are doing a Dec 31 2009 audit and our client obtained a mortgage loan in 2009, and entered into a fixed rate mortgage rate swap on the loans interest. I would like to get a fair value quote for the swap at Dec. 31,2009. Would you be available to consult with us on this valuation? Please advise interest and your fee?

 Many thanks,

harry

XXXXX


Accounting for Derivative Financial Instruments and Hedging Activities

Hi Patricia,

The bottom line is that accounting authors, like intermediate textbook authors, provide lousy coverage of FAS 133 and IAS 39 because they just do not understand the 1,000+ types of contracts that are being accounted for in those standards. Some finance authors understand the contracts but have never shown an inclination to study the complexities of FAS 133 and IAS 39 (which started out as a virtual clone of FAS 133).

My 2006 Accounting Theory syllabus before I retired can be viewed at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/acct5341/acct5341.htm 

There are some great textbooks on derivatives and hedging written by finance professors, but those professors never delved into the complexities of FAS 133 and IAS 39. My favorite book may be out of print at the moment, but this was a required book in my theory course: Derivatives: An Introduction by Robert A Strong, Edition 2 (Thomson South-Western, 2005, ISBN 0-324-27302-9)

Professor Strong's book provides zero about FAS 133 and IAS 39, but my students were first required to understand the contracts that they later had to account for in my course. Strong's coverage is concise and relatively simple.

When first learning about hedging, my Trinity University graduate students and CPE course participants loved an Excel workbook that I made them study at
www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/Calgary/CD/Graphing.xls 
Note the tabs on the bottom that take you to different spreadsheets.

There are some really superficial books written by accounting professors who really never understood derivatives and hedging in finance.

Sadly, much of my tutorial material is spread over hundreds of different links.

However, my dog and pony CD that I used to take on the road such as a training course that I gave for a commodities trading outfit in Calgary can be found at
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/Calgary/CD/  T
his was taken off of the CD that I distributed to each participant in each CPE course, and now I realize that a copyrighted item on the CD should be removed from the Web.

In particular, note the exam material given at
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/Calgary/CD/ExamMaterial/ 
My students had access to this material before they took my exams.

Note that some of the illustrations and exam answers have changed over time. For example, the exam material on embedded derivatives is still relevant under FASB rules whereas the IASB just waved a magic wand and said that clients no longer have to search for embedded derivatives even though they're not "clearly and closely related" to the underlyings in their host contracts. I think this is a cop out by the IASB.

Links to my tutorials on FAS 133 and IAS 39, including a long history of multimedia, can be found at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/caseans/000index.htm 

Probably the most helpful thing I ever generated was the glossary at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/acct5341/speakers/133glosf.htm 

What made me the most money consulting in this area can be found at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/acct5341/speakers/133swapvalue.htm 

But the core of what I taught about derivatives and hedge accounting in my accounting theory course can be found in the FAS 133 Excel spreadsheets listed near the top of the document at
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/ 

I also salted my courses with real world illustrations of scandals regarding derivatives instruments contracts, a continuously updated timeline of which is provided at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm#DerivativesFrauds 

Hope this helps. Once again you may want to look at the exam material at
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/Calgary/CD/ExamMaterial/ 

The bottom line is that accounting authors like intermediate textbook authors provide lousy coverage of FAS 133 and IAS 39 because they just do not understand the 1,000+ types of contracts that are being accounted for in those standards. Some finance authors understand the contracts but have never shown an inclination to delve into the complexities of FAS 133 and IAS 39 (which started out as a virtual clone of FAS 133).

Respectfully,
Bob Jensen

 



Limits of Big Data

"Mechanical Turk and the Limits of Big Data:  The Internet is transforming how researchers perform experiments across the social sciences," by Walter Frick, MIT's Technology Review, November 1, 2012 --- Click Here
http://www.technologyreview.com/view/506731/mechanical-turk-and-the-limits-of-big-data/?utm_campaign=newsletters&utm_source=newsletter-daily-all&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20121102

It’s telling that the most interesting presenter during MIT Technology Review’s EmTech session on big data last week was not really about big data at all. It was about Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, and the experiments it makes possible.

Like many
other researchers, sociologist and Microsoft researcher Duncan Watts performs experiments using Mechanical Turk, an online marketplace that allows users to pay others to complete tasks. Used largely to fill in gaps in applications where human intelligence is required, social scientists are increasingly turning to the platform to test their hypotheses.

The point Watts made at EmTech was that, from his perspective, the data revolution has less to do with the amount of data available and more to do with the newly lowered cost of running online experiments.

Compare that to Facebook data scientists Eytan Bakshy and Andrew Fiore, who presented right before Watts. Facebook, of course, generates a massive amount of data, and the two spoke of the experiments they perform to inform the design of its products.

But what might have looked like two competing visions for the future of data and hypothesis testing are really two sides of the big data coin. That’s because data on its own isn’t enough. Even the kind of experiment Bakshy and Fiore discussed—essentially an elaborate A/B test—has its limits.

This is a point political forecaster and author Nate Silver discusses in his recent book
The Signal and the Noise. After discussing economic forecasters who simply gather as much data as possible and then make inferences without respect for theory, he writes:

This kind of statement is becoming more common in the age of Big Data. Who needs theory when you have so much information? But this is categorically the wrong attitude to take toward forecasting, especially in a field like economics, where the data is so noisy. Statistical inferences are much stronger when backed up by theory or at least some deeper thinking about their root causes.

 

Bakshy and Fiore no doubt understand this, as they cited plenty of theory in their presentation. But Silver’s point is an important one. Data on its own won’t spit out answers; theory needs to progress as well. That’s where Watts’s work comes in. 

Continued in article

A Recent Essay
"How Non-Scientific Granulation Can Improve Scientific Accountics"
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/AccounticsGranulationCurrentDraft.pdf
By Bob Jensen
This essay takes off from the following quotation:

A recent accountics science study suggests that audit firm scandal with respect to someone else's audit may be a reason for changing auditors.
"Audit Quality and Auditor Reputation: Evidence from Japan,"
by Douglas J. Skinner and Suraj Srinivasan, The Accounting Review, September 2012, Vol. 87, No. 5, pp. 1737-1765.

Our conclusions are subject to two caveats. First, we find that clients switched away from ChuoAoyama in large numbers in Spring 2006, just after Japanese regulators announced the two-month suspension and PwC formed Aarata. While we interpret these events as being a clear and undeniable signal of audit-quality problems at ChuoAoyama, we cannot know for sure what drove these switches (emphasis added). It is possible that the suspension caused firms to switch auditors for reasons unrelated to audit quality. Second, our analysis presumes that audit quality is important to Japanese companies. While we believe this to be the case, especially over the past two decades as Japanese capital markets have evolved to be more like their Western counterparts, it is possible that audit quality is, in general, less important in Japan (emphasis added) .

 

 

 



Financial Statements Loss of Quality and Predictive Power

Insider Tips by Martha Stewart, Mark Cuban, Tom Selling, and Three Bobs (Vererrecchia, Jaedicke, and Jensen)

Jensen Comment
I don't think the "The EBITDA Epidemic Takes Its Cue from Standard Setters."
Like Professor Verrecchia currently and my accounting Professor Bob Jaedicke decades earlier I think the "EBITDA Epidemic" takes its cue from investors and managers that have a "functional fixation" for earnings, eps, EBITDA, and P/E ratios --- when in fact those metrics are no longer defined by the FASB/IASB and may have a lot of misleading noise and secret manipulations.

"The EBITDA Epidemic Takes Its Cue from Standard Setters," by Tom Selling, The Accounting Onion, October 13, 2013 ---
http://accountingonion.com/2013/10/the-ebitda-epidemic-takes-its-cue-from-standard-setters.html

Jensen Comment
If the FASB cannot define net earnings then it follows from cold logic that they cannot define measures derived from net earnings like EBITDA.

However, virtually all private sector business firms compute net earnings and some measures derived from net earnings like eps, EBITDA, and P/E ratios.

It's doubtful whether net earnings for two different companies or even one company over two time intervals are really comparable.

But all that does not matter when it comes to adjudicating an insider trading case in court even if the accused may not really be an insider.

I'm reminded of why billionaire Martha Stewart went to prison because she acted on inside information about a company --- inside information passed on to her by the CEO of that company. It doesn't matter that the amount of loss saved by the inside tip involved is insignificant compared to her billion-dollar portfolio. Evidence in the case made it clear that she did exploit other investors by acting on the inside tip no matter how insignificant the value of that tip to her. She was hauled off the clink in handcuffs and was released in less than five months. But her good name and reputation were tarnished forever ---
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martha_Stewart

 

Mark Cuban --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Cuban

Flamboyant billionaire Mark Cuban is now in trial for very similar reasons, although the alleged insider tip and the value of the alleged tip is more obscure than in the Martha Stewart case. Like in the case of Martha Stewart the loss avoided is pocket change ($750,000) relative to Cuban's billion-dollar portfolio.

In the case of Martha Stewart the prosecution had her dead to rights in terms of timing of the tip and her stock sales. In the case of Mark Cuban the SEC's case is based upon an "unreliable witness who refused to testify in person."
http://www.ottawacitizen.com/business/Lawyers+Mark+Cuban+begin+closing+arguments+billionaires/9038098/story.html

Tom Selling is not so much concerned about the insider trading issue as he his with Mark Cuban's EBITDA lecture to the jury.
"An Accounting Lesson for Twitter," by Jonathan Weil, Bloomberg Businessweek, October 14, 2013 ---
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-04/an-accounting-lesson-for-twitter-.html 

What Cuban failed to mention is that net earnings and EBITDA cannot be defined since the FASB elected to give the balance sheet priority over the income statement in financial reporting ---
"The Asset-Liability Approach: Primacy does not mean Priority," by Robert Bloomfield, FASRI Financial Accounting Standards Research Initiative, October 6, 2009 ---
http://www.fasri.net/index.php/2009/10/the-asset-liability-approach-primacy-does-not-mean-priority/


Hi Marc,
 
This does not operationally define how Net Earnings differs from "Other Comprehensive Income." For example, some revenue and expense items go to OCI and not net earnings whereas others go to net earnings and not OCI.
 
Net earnings are derived from "revenues, expenses, gains and loses."

 

OCI is derived in large part is derived from "revenues, expenses, gains and loses."
 
The concept of "net earnings" in the CF will have to be more precise on on how the partitions of  are defined for
"revenues, expenses, gains and loses." It's impossible to put those partitioning rules into concise definitions.


More problematic is that those partitions are often subjective and/or arbitrary such as the subjective partition between a gain on an interest rate swap is "effective" and goes into OCI versus what part is "ineffective" and goes into "Net Earnings."
 
 
One of the best statements of the lack of a concept for net earnings is was given by Bloomfield. -

"The Asset-Liability Approach: Primacy does not mean Priority," by Robert Bloomfield:
FASRI Financial Accounting Standards Research Initiative, October 6, 2009 ---
http://www.fasri.net/index.php/2009/10/the-asset-liability-approach-primacy-does-not-mean-priority/

 


Be that as it may, net earnings and EBITDA are all-important because investors change their portfolios based on net earnings and its derivatives more than anything in the balance sheet.
"Accounting Alchemy," by Robert E. Verrecchia, Accounting Horizons, September 2013, pp. 603-618.
Verrecchia alleges that it's not that managers have a functional fixation for earnings metrics as it is that they believe that other managers and investors are so fixated with earnings that it because of monumental importance not because it is inherently a great metric but because they believe deeply that the market itself makes this index of vital importance.

. . .

In summary, my thesis is that managers project that others are fixated on earnings—independent of any evidence in support of, or contrary to, this phenomenon. This leads to managers resisting the inclusion in earnings items that fail to enhance performance, such as the amortization of Goodwill, or measures that make future performance more volatile, such as those based on fair value. In the absence of acknowledging PEF and attempting to grapple with it, I continue to see confrontations over accounting regulation along the lines of recent debates about fair value accounting, in addition to further impediments along the path to greater transparency in financial statements.

 

It's a bit like requiring calculus for undergraduate accounting courses. Calculus probably is not essential in any undergraduate accounting course in the curriculum, but faculty are fixated that the best accounting majors are the ones do well in calculus. Similarly, investors change their portfolios based on earnings, eps, EBITDA, and P/E ratios when in fact those metrics are not defined and may have a lot of misleading noise and secret manipulations.

In any case, see what Tom has to say at
http://accountingonion.com/2013/10/the-ebitda-epidemic-takes-its-cue-from-standard-setters.html


Net Earnings Functional Fixation?

From the 24/7 Wall Street newsletter on October 28, 2013

Earnings season is in full swing and this coming week will bring many key earnings reports. This will also be the last week of major on-calendar earnings for the third quarter, even if important earnings will still be coming out in the next two weeks or three weeks. 24/7 Wall St. has decided to publish previews for what it feels are the ten most important earnings reports on the calendar for the week ahead. While these may be market movers in their own right, they are definitely all sector movers. These are the 10 most important earnings in the week ahead.

Alas!
Net earnings is the most important number reported in financial statements and sadly accounting standard setters like the IASB and FASB can no longer even define what net earnings or any derivatives of  mean ---
http://www.fasri.net/index.php/2009/10/the-asset-liability-approach-primacy-does-not-mean-priority/

Accounting theorists who sometimes argue that earnings numbers between firms or even over time with within a firm are misleading and should not be compared. Why then do earnings numbers and derivatives like earnings-per-share and P/E ratios dominate the analyses of both investors and financial analysts?

Accounting theorists scramble to explain why business firms that cook the books often do so to creatively manage their earnings numbers ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory02.htm#Manipulation

"Accounting Alchemy," by Robert E. Verrecchia, Accounting Horizons, September 2013, pp. 603-618.
Verrecchia alleges that it's not that managers have a functional fixation for earnings metrics as it is that they believe that other managers and investors are so fixated with earnings that it because of monumental importance not because it is inherently a great metric but because they believe deeply that the market itself makes this index of vital importance.

. . .

In summary, my thesis is that managers project that others are fixated on earnings—independent of any evidence in support of, or contrary to, this phenomenon. This leads to managers resisting the inclusion in earnings items that fail to enhance performance, such as the amortization of Goodwill, or measures that make future performance more volatile, such as those based on fair value. In the absence of acknowledging PEF and attempting to grapple with it, I continue to see confrontations over accounting regulation along the lines of recent debates about fair value accounting, in addition to further impediments along the path to greater transparency in financial statements.

 

 


"Investors Beware: Corporate Financial Statements Decline in Predictive Value ," by Bill Snyder, Stanford Graduate School of Business, March 22, 2013 --- Click Here
http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/news/research/investors-beware-corporate-financial-statements-decline-predictive-value?utm_source=Stanford+Business+Re%3AThink&utm_campaign=eeb27543e5-Stanford_Business_Re_Think_Issue_Ten3_22_2013&utm_medium=email&ct=t%28Stanford_Business_Re_Think_Issue_Ten3_22_2013%29

Over time, financial statements of public corporations show more losses, intangibles, and earnings restatements, which lower their value for predicting corporate bankruptcies.

Corporate bankruptcies, like earthquakes, are rare events. But when they do occur, says Maureen F. McNichols of Stanford's Graduate School of Business, the results can be financially devastating for investors and other stakeholders.

An important role of financial statement information is to permit investors to assess the likely timing and amount of future cash flows. Recent research by McNichols and coauthors examines the usefulness of financial statement and market data for investors who want to ascertain the likelihood of bankruptcy. The results of that research are not completely reassuring.

The authors — McNichols, Marriner S. Eccles Professor of Public and Private Management; William H. Beaver, Joan E. Horngren Professor of Accounting, Emeritus, at the Graduate School of Business; and Maria Correia, assistant professor of accounting at the London Business School — examined 40 years of financial data garnered from thousands of public corporations. They analyzed key financial ratios, such as return on assets and leverage, reported in filings to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and market-related data such as market capitalization and stock returns. Over the period they examined — 1962 to 2002 — the data became significantly less useful in predicting bankruptcy. "Investors should be concerned and aware of this when they assess bankruptcy risk," McNichols says.

A professor of accounting, McNichols is quick to add that financial statement data are still highly relevant. Of the firms she and her colleagues studied, about 1% fell into bankruptcy, and despite the deterioration in financial-statement usefulness, financial ratios and market data are still important tools for predicting insolvency, she says.

Nonetheless, the results are concerning enough that McNichols believes that regulators and standards setters such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Accounting Standards Board should be aware of this issue.

Three major factors muddy the waters for investors attempting to predict bankruptcy, the researchers found:

  1. Over the sample period, there is increasing evidence that management exercises discretion over financial reporting, and that there have been increasing numbers of restatements because the financial statements were materially misleading. "Our findings indicate that the manipulation of reported results gives a misleading impression of profitability and reduces investors' ability to predict bankruptcy," notes Correia. For example, firms recognizing revenue ahead of schedule or fraudulently may appear profitable. As a result, the bankruptcy prediction model is much less likely to classify bankrupt firms that also restated earnings accurately, assigning lower risk due to their overstated earnings.
  2. Many firms, particularly the technology companies listed on the NASDAQ exchange, are heavy spenders on research and development. R&D in itself is certainly not a cause for concern, but because this "intangible" is not recognized on the balance sheet, it makes various financial ratios and data less useful.
  3. The frequency of firms reporting losses has increased substantially over the past 40 years. Because predicting future earnings for firms that suffer losses involves substantially greater uncertainty than for firms that are profitable, the bankruptcy prediction model is less likely to accurately classify loss firms that will go bankrupt.

Consider a firm that suffers a loss. The fact that it has lost money is obviously not good news, but in and of itself a loss doesn't mean a company will go bankrupt. Losses complicate the financial picture, the researchers found, because while firms reporting a loss are more likely to go bankrupt on average, it is harder to predict which loss firms will do so relative to firms earning a profit.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Until the 1990s net earnings showed a surprising predictive power in empirical capital market studies. I say "surprising" in the sense that we all knew historical cost earnings based upon many arbitrary assumptions in accrual accounting such as depreciation, amortization, and bad debt estimation.

Although net earnings was never defined very well in the old days, the FASB and IASB pretty well destroyed any remaining definition as fair value accounting, goodwill impairment, and many other components of earnings took away any remaining meaning of bottom-line net earnings. The biggest bomb, in my opinion, was the combining of unrealized fair value changes with realized revenues on contracts.

Solution 1
There are two solutions in my viewpoint. One is to require multi-column reporting along the lines advocated in
"Academic Research and Standard-Setting: The Case of Other Comprehensive Income," by Lynn L. Rees and Philip B. Shane, Accounting Horizons, December 2012, Vol. 26, No. 4, pp. 789-815. ---
http://aaajournals.org/doi/full/10.2308/acch-50237 
In particular note Table 2 at
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/ReesShane2012Table3.jpg

Solution 2
The other solution is to stop reporting bottom line net earnings as reported in
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#ChangesOnTheWay

Solution 3
Pray hard that the IASB and FASB will one day define "net earnings" in a way that it will have predictive value. That prayer has about as much hope as praying for world peace or a balanced Federal Budget in Washington DC.

None of the above approaches necessarily will automatically improve the predictive value of financial statements. Our hope is that in both solutions financial analysts will be forced to perform deeper analysis rather than simply track bottom line net earnings that has little, if any, predictive value after the FASB and IASB screwed it up.

 
"Ball and Brown and the Usefulness of EPS." by Robert Lipe, FASRI, August 9, 2012 ---
http://www.fasri.net/index.php/2012/08/ball-and-brown-and-the-usefulness-of-eps/

At the AAA meeting in DC, I attended a presidential address by Ray Ball and Phil Brown regarding their seminal research paper (JAR 1968). They described the motivation for their study as a test of existing scholarly research that painted a dim picture of reported earnings. The earlier writers noted that earnings were based on old information (historical cost) or, worse yet, a mix of old and new information (mixed attributes). The early articles concluded that earnings could not be informative, and therefore major changes to accounting practice where necessary to correct the problem.

Ball and Brown viewed this literature as providing a testable hypothesis – market participants should not be able to use earnings in a profitable manner. Stated another way, knowing the amount of earnings that would be reported at the end of the year with certainty could not be used to profitably trade common stocks at the beginning of the year. Evidence to the contrary would suggest the null that earnings are non-informative does not hold.

While the methods part of the paper is probably difficult for recent accounting archivalists to follow, Ball and Brown produce perhaps the single most famous graph in the accounting literature. It shows stock returns trending up over the year for companies that ultimately report increases in earnings and trending down for companies that report decreases in earnings. Thus they show that accounting numbers can be informative even if the aggregate number is not computed using a single unified measurement approach across transactions/events. Subsequent research would show that numbers from the income statement have predictive ability for future earnings and cash flows.

As I sat listening to these two research icons, I could not help but think about some comments I have heard recently from a few standard setters and practitioners. Those individuals express contempt for EPS in a mixed attribute world. They appear to wish they could jump in a time machine and eliminate per share computations related to income. I readily admit that EPS does not explain much of the variance in returns over periods of one year or less ( e.g., Lev, JAR 1989). However the link is clearly significant, and over longer periods, the R2’s are quite high (Easton, Harris, and Ohlson, JAE 1992). Can the standard setters make incremental improvements to increase usefulness of EPS? I sure hope so, and maybe the recent paper posted by Alex Milburn will help. But dismissing a reported number because it is not derived from a single consistent measurement attribute – be it fair value or historical cost – seems to revert back to pre-Ball and Brown views that are rejected by years of research.

Jensen Comment
Given the balance sheet focus of the FASB and the IASB at the expense of the income statement I don't see how net income or eps could be anything but misleading to investors and financial analysts. The biggest hit, in my opinion, is the way the FASB and IASB create earnings volatility not only unrealized fair value changes but the utter fiction created by posting fair value changes that will never ever be realized for held-to-maturity investments and debt. This was not the case at the time of the seminal Ball and Brown article. Those were olden days before accounting standards injected huge doses of fair value fiction in eps numbers so beloved by investors and analysts.

Sydney Finkelstein, the Steven Roth professor of management at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, also pointed out that Bank of America booked a $2.2 billion gain by increasing the value of Merrill Lynch’s assets it acquired last quarter to prices that were higher than Merrill kept them. “Although perfectly legal, this move is also perfectly delusional, because some day soon these assets will be written down to their fair value, and it won’t be pretty,” he said
"Bank Profits Appear Out of Thin Air ," by Andrew Ross Sorkin, The New York Times, April 20, 2009 ---
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/21/business/21sorkin.html?_r=1&dbk

This is starting to feel like amateur hour for aspiring magicians.

Another day, another attempt by a Wall Street bank to pull a bunny out of the hat, showing off an earnings report that it hopes will elicit oohs and aahs from the market. Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and, on Monday, Bank of America all tried to wow their audiences with what appeared to be — presto! — better-than-expected numbers.

But in each case, investors spotted the attempts at sleight of hand, and didn’t buy it for a second.

With Goldman Sachs, the disappearing month of December didn’t quite disappear (it changed its reporting calendar, effectively erasing the impact of a $1.5 billion loss that month); JPMorgan Chase reported a dazzling profit partly because the price of its bonds dropped (theoretically, they could retire them and buy them back at a cheaper price; that’s sort of like saying you’re richer because the value of your home has dropped); Citigroup pulled the same trick.

Bank of America sold its shares in China Construction Bank to book a big one-time profit, but Ken Lewis heralded the results as “a testament to the value and breadth of the franchise.”

Sydney Finkelstein, the Steven Roth professor of management at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, also pointed out that Bank of America booked a $2.2 billion gain by increasing the value of Merrill Lynch’s assets it acquired last quarter to prices that were higher than Merrill kept them.

“Although perfectly legal, this move is also perfectly delusional, because some day soon these assets will be written down to their fair value, and it won’t be pretty,” he said.

Investors reacted by throwing tomatoes. Bank of America’s stock plunged 24 percent, as did other bank stocks. They’ve had enough.

Why can’t anybody read the room here? After all the financial wizardry that got the country — actually, the world — into trouble, why don’t these bankers give their audience what it seems to crave? Perhaps a bit of simple math that could fit on the back of an envelope, with no asterisks and no fine print, might win cheers instead of jeers from the market.

What’s particularly puzzling is why the banks don’t just try to make some money the old-fashioned way. After all, earning it, if you could call it that, has never been easier with a business model sponsored by the federal government. That’s the one in which Uncle Sam and we taxpayers are offering the banks dirt-cheap money, which they can turn around and lend at much higher rates.

“If the federal government let me borrow money at zero percent interest, and then lend it out at 4 to 12 percent interest, even I could make a profit,” said Professor Finkelstein of the Tuck School. “And if a college professor can make money in banking in 2009, what should we expect from the highly paid C.E.O.’s that populate corner offices?”

But maybe now the banks are simply following the lead of Washington, which keeps trotting out the latest idea for shoring up the financial system.

The latest big idea is the so-called stress test that is being applied to the banks, with results expected at the end of this month.

This is playing to a tough crowd that long ago decided to stop suspending disbelief. If the stress test is done honestly, it is impossible to believe that some banks won’t fail. If no bank fails, then what’s the value of the stress test? To tell us everything is fine, when people know it’s not?

“I can’t think of a single, positive thing to say about the stress test concept — the process by which it will be carried out, or outcome it will produce, no matter what the outcome is,” Thomas K. Brown, an analyst at Bankstocks.com, wrote. “Nothing good can come of this and, under certain, non-far-fetched scenarios, it might end up making the banking system’s problems worse.”

The results of the stress test could lead to calls for capital for some of the banks. Citi is mentioned most often as a candidate for more help, but there could be others.

The expectation, before Monday at least, was that the government would pump new money into the banks that needed it most.

But that was before the government reached into its bag of tricks again. Now Treasury, instead of putting up new money, is considering swapping its preferred shares in these banks for common shares.

The benefit to the bank is that it will have more capital to meet its ratio requirements, and therefore won’t have to pay a 5 percent dividend to the government. In the case of Citi, that would save the bank hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

And — ta da! — it will miraculously stretch taxpayer dollars without spending a penny more.

Bob Jensen's threads on accounting theory ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on controversies in the setting of accounting standards ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#MethodsForSetting

Bob Jensen's threads on controversies in the setting of accounting standards ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#MethodsForSetting


Insider Tips by Martha Stewart, Mark Cuban, Tom Selling, and Three Bobs (Vererrecchia, Jaedicke, and Jensen)

Jensen Comment
I don't think the "The EBITDA Epidemic Takes Its Cue from Standard Setters."
Like Professor Verrecchia currently and my accounting Professor Bob Jaedicke decades earlier I think the "EBITDA Epidemic" takes its cue from investors and managers that have a "functional fixation" for earnings, eps, EBITDA, and P/E ratios --- when in fact those metrics are no longer defined by the FASB/IASB and may have a lot of misleading noise and secret manipulations.

"The EBITDA Epidemic Takes Its Cue from Standard Setters," by Tom Selling, The Accounting Onion, October 13, 2013 ---
http://accountingonion.com/2013/10/the-ebitda-epidemic-takes-its-cue-from-standard-setters.html

Jensen Comment
If the FASB cannot define net earnings then it follows from cold logic that they cannot define measures derived from net earnings like EBITDA.

However, virtually all private sector business firms compute net earnings and some measures derived from net earnings like eps, EBITDA, and P/E ratios.

It's doubtful whether net earnings for two different companies or even one company over two time intervals are really comparable.

But all that does not matter when it comes to adjudicating an insider trading case in court even if the accused may not really be an insider.

I'm reminded of why billionaire Martha Stewart went to prison because she acted on inside information about a company --- inside information passed on to her by the CEO of that company. It doesn't matter that the amount of loss saved by the inside tip involved is insignificant compared to her billion-dollar portfolio. Evidence in the case made it clear that she did exploit other investors by acting on the inside tip no matter how insignificant the value of that tip to her. She was hauled off the clink in handcuffs and was released in less than five months. But her good name and reputation were tarnished forever ---
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martha_Stewart

 

Mark Cuban --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Cuban

Flamboyant billionaire Mark Cuban is now in trial for very similar reasons, although the alleged insider tip and the value of the alleged tip is more obscure than in the Martha Stewart case. Like in the case of Martha Stewart the loss avoided is pocket change ($750,000) relative to Cuban's billion-dollar portfolio.

In the case of Martha Stewart the prosecution had her dead to rights in terms of timing of the tip and her stock sales. In the case of Mark Cuban the SEC's case is based upon an "unreliable witness who refused to testify in person."
http://www.ottawacitizen.com/business/Lawyers+Mark+Cuban+begin+closing+arguments+billionaires/9038098/story.html

Tom Selling is not so much concerned about the insider trading issue as he his with Mark Cuban's EBITDA lecture to the jury.
"An Accounting Lesson for Twitter," by Jonathan Weil, Bloomberg Businessweek, October 14, 2013 ---
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-04/an-accounting-lesson-for-twitter-.html 

What Cuban failed to mention is that net earnings and EBITDA cannot be defined since the FASB elected to give the balance sheet priority over the income statement in financial reporting ---
"The Asset-Liability Approach: Primacy does not mean Priority," by Robert Bloomfield, FASRI Financial Accounting Standards Research Initiative, October 6, 2009 ---
http://www.fasri.net/index.php/2009/10/the-asset-liability-approach-primacy-does-not-mean-priority/

Be that as it may, net earnings and EBITDA are all-important because investors change their portfolios based on net earnings and its derivatives more than anything in the balance sheet.
"Accounting Alchemy," by Robert E. Verrecchia, Accounting Horizons, September 2013, pp. 603-618.
Verrecchia alleges that it's not that managers have a functional fixation for earnings metrics as it is that they believe that other managers and investors are so fixated with earnings that it because of monumental importance not because it is inherently a great metric but because they believe deeply that the market itself makes this index of vital importance.

. . .

In summary, my thesis is that managers project that others are fixated on earnings—independent of any evidence in support of, or contrary to, this phenomenon. This leads to managers resisting the inclusion in earnings items that fail to enhance performance, such as the amortization of Goodwill, or measures that make future performance more volatile, such as those based on fair value. In the absence of acknowledging PEF and attempting to grapple with it, I continue to see confrontations over accounting regulation along the lines of recent debates about fair value accounting, in addition to further impediments along the path to greater transparency in financial statements.

 

It's a bit like requiring calculus for undergraduate accounting courses. Calculus probably is not essential in any undergraduate accounting course in the curriculum, but faculty are fixated that the best accounting majors are the ones do well in calculus. Similarly, investors change their portfolios based on earnings, eps, EBITDA, and P/E ratios when in fact those metrics are not defined and may have a lot of misleading noise and secret manipulations.

In any case, see what Tom has to say at
http://accountingonion.com/2013/10/the-ebitda-epidemic-takes-its-cue-from-standard-setters.html


April 3, 2013 message from Bob Jensen

 

 

 

 



 

Accounting History in a Nutshell

Humanity is forgetting its history more rapidly. And celebrities are losing their fame faster than ever.
Marc Parry, "Scholars Elicit a 'Cultural Genome' From 5.2 Million Google-Digitized Books," Chronicle of Higher Education, December 16, 2010 ---
http://chronicle.com/article/Scholars-Elicit-a-Cultural/125731/?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

Jensen Comment
It's ironic that the irrelevance of history in our academic disciplines is transpiring at at time when historical works are increasingly available and searchable at virtually zero cost. Perhaps one problem is that we're increasingly discovering how vast the histories of our discipline have become. Do intermediate accounting instructors even mention the works of O'Neal, Canning, Paton, and Littleton in this century?

 

Confucius is described, by Sima Qian and other sources, as having endured a poverty-stricken and humiliating youth and been forced, upon reaching manhood, to undertake such petty jobs as accounting and caring for livestock.

History of Quantitative Finance
"Four features in appreciation of the life and work of Benoit Mandelbrot," Simoleon Sense, February 3, 2011 ---
http://www.simoleonsense.com/four-features-in-appreciation-of-the-life-and-work-of-benoit-mandelbrot/

Thank you James Martin for the the tremendous MAAW Accounting History database --- http://maaw.info/

History News Network (not accounting) --- http://hnn.us/

Archive of the History of Financial Regulation --- http://www.sechistorical.org/

An Introduction to Great Economists — Adam Smith, the Physiocrats & More — Presented in New MOOC --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2013/05/an_introduction_to_great_economists_--_adam_smith_the_physiocrats_more_--_presented_in_new_mooc.html

Securities Exchange Commission Historical Society (SEC) ---
http://www.sechistorical.org/

The Richard C. Adkerson Gallery on the SEC Role in Accounting Standards Setting (accounting history) ---
http://www.sechistorical.org/museum/galleries/rca/index.php
Thank you Jim McKinney for the heads up.

"The Last Half-Century of the Federal Income Tax, by Lawrence B. Gibbs, Creighton Law Review, November 29, 2012 ---
http://taxprof.typepad.com/files/gibbs.pdf
Thank you Paul Caron for the heads up.

"A Very Short History Of Data Science," by Gil Press, Forbes, May 28, 2013 --- Click Here
http://www.forbes.com/sites/gilpress/2013/05/28/a-very-short-history-of-data-science/?utm_campaign=techtwittersf&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social

From the Harvard Business School:  Working Knowledge --- http://hbswk.hbs.edu/
Topics --- http://hbswk.hbs.edu/topics/
Accounting and Control is listed under Finance --- http://hbswk.hbs.edu/topics/accountingandcontrol.html

Some Accounting History Sites

Accounting History Libraries at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) --- http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/accountancy/libraries.html
The above libraries include international accounting history.
The above libraries include film and video historical collections.

MAAW Knowledge Portal for Management and Accounting --- http://maaw.info/

Academy of Accounting Historians and the Accounting Historians Journal ---
http://www.accounting.rutgers.edu/raw/aah/

Sage Accounting History --- http://ach.sagepub.com/cgi/pdf_extract/11/3/269

A nice timeline on the development of U.S. standards and the evolution of thinking about the income statement versus the balance sheet is provided at:
"The Evolution of U.S. GAAP: The Political Forces Behind Professional Standards (1930-1973)," by Stephen A. Zeff, CPA Journal, January 2005 --- http://www.nysscpa.org/cpajournal/2005/105/infocus/p18.htm
Part II covering years 1974-2003 published in February 2005 --- http://www.nysscpa.org/cpajournal/2005/205/index.htm 

A nice timeline of accounting history --- http://www.docstoc.com/docs/2187711/A-HISTORY-OF-ACCOUNTING

From Texas A&M University
Accounting History Outline --- http://acct.tamu.edu/giroux/history.html

Canadian Printer and Publisher (history of various trades and industries) ---  http://link.library.utoronto.ca/cpp/
You can search for various industry terms such as accounting, cost, bookkeeping, etc.

Bob Jensen's timeline of derivative financial instruments and hedge accounting ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm#DerivativesFrauds

History of Fraud in America --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/415wp/AmericanHistoryOfFraud.htm
Also see http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud.htm

Archive of the History of Financial Regulation --- http://www.sechistorical.org/

American Accounting Association  Past Presidents are listed at
http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/PastPresidentsAAA.htm 

Accounting History Journals

September 1, 2012 message from Jim McKinney

Accounting History Review was formerly titled Accounting, Business & Financial History is based out of Cardiff  University. Accounting History is a journal published by Sage as a journal of the Accounting History Special Interest Group of the Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand. The Accounting Historians Journal a publication of the Academy of Accounting Historians is independently published (and as a result far cheaper in price) than the other two. The Accounting Historians Journal is much older than the other two having entered its 39th year of publication.  Older editions of the AHJ are available on JSTOR and other databases, with older back issues available for free at the University of Mississippi Libraries website that also maintains the AICPA libraries. I know editors at all three journals and all are quite capable and respected individuals. There is a considerable debate which of the journals are considered better than the other with arguments made for each of the three.

 

Jim McKinney, Ph.D., C.P.A.
Accounting and Information Assurance
Robert H. Smith School of Business
4333G Van Munching Hall
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742-1815

http://www.rhsmith.umd.edu


New Accounting History Books Worth Noting

Steve Zeff at Rice University is one of the best-known accounting historians alive today. He's also the current Book Review Editor of The Accounting Review. This explains, in part, why the July 2013 listing of book reviews four scholarly reference books on accounting history. I say reference books, because none of the four history books is light reading to pass the time on airplanes.

The books reviewed in the July 2013 issue of TAR include the following ---
http://aaajournals.org/doi/full/10.2308/accr-10338

  • SEBASTIAN BOTZEM, The Politics of Accounting Regulation: Organizing Transnational Standard Setting in Financial Reporting (Cheltenham, U.K.: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2012, ISBN 978-1-84980-177-5, pp. x, 223).
    Reviewer Scholar:  STUART McLEAY
     
  • WOLFGANG BURR and ALFRED WAGENHOFER (coordinating editors), Der Verband der Hoschschullehrer für Betriebswirtschaft: Geschichte des VHB und Geschichten zum VHB (History of the VHB and Tales of the VHB) (Wiesbaden, Germany: Gabler Verlag, 2012, ISBN 978-3-8349-2939-6, pp. xxi, 338).
    Reviewer Scholar:  LISA EVANS
     
  • MAHMOUD EZZAMEL, Accounting and Order (New York, NY: Routledge, 2012, ISBN 978-0-415-48261-5, pp. xx, 482).
    Reviewer Scholar:  SUDIPTA BASU
     
  • GARY PREVITS, PETER WALTON, and PETER WOLNIZER (editors), A Global History of Accounting, Financial Reporting and Public Policy: Eurasia, the Middle East and Africa (Bingley, U.K.: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2012, ISBN 978-0-85724-815-2, pp. xi, 249).
    Reviewer Scholar:  TIMOTHY S. DOUPNIK
     
  • Capsule Commentary on The Future of IFRS (London, U.K.: Financial Reporting Faculty of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, 2012, ISBN 978-0-85760-652-5, pp. 25). Downloadable at www.icaew.com.
    Reviewer Commentator:  STEPHEN A. ZEFF
  • The accounting history classic in the set is A Global History of Accounting, Financial Reporting and Public Policy in four volumes, the fourth volume of which is reviewed in the above listing. The entire set is devoted to global development of accounting, financial reporting, and public policy in several key sovereign states. I don't think any scholarly library on accounting history would be complete without the entire set, although accounting professors may not invest in this set unless they are doing research in accounting history. This is not light reading. The reviewer, Tim Doupnik notes, that is not a book aimed at teh textbook market. Rather is "intended to be a historical source book."

    The Accounting for Order (in ancient Egypt) book by Mahmoud Ezzamel provides more than you probably ever wanted to know about "Egyptian inscriptions to document the role that accounting played in numerous spheres and theorizing about how accounting helps to create and sustain order within these spheres." It is a book that should be in every accounting history library, although professors who buy the book are probably historians interested in ancient Egypt society, culture, and economics. Sadipta Basu nearly always does scholarly work, and his review of this book is well worth the read.

    Most of us cannot read the Wolfgang Burr and Alfred Wagenhofer book since it is written in German.  Lisa Evans is obviously a scholar in accounting as well as the German language and writes the following in her review:

    This book is written in German and, it seems, for an audience primarily comprising VHB members, or at least those familiar with the discipline of Betriebswirtschaft (BWL) and with the organization of German academe. Therefore, an explicit account of what distinguishes BWL from related disciplines in other cultures may not have been felt necessary. However, one of the difficulties in reviewing this book for an English-speaking readership is the need to translate German concepts for which there are no English language equivalents. The very terms Betriebswirtschaft and Betriebswirtschaftslehre (the science of Betriebswirtschaft) can be translated as, inter alia, business administration, business management, business economics, or business studies.

    The lack of an equivalent translation is an indication of the different histories of related disciplines in different academic and business traditions. The different possible translations are also a clue to the breadth of the subject matter and to difficulties in its demarcation from related disciplines during its history. This relationship with other disciplines is explored throughout this book.

    In essence, the VHB represents interests considerably wider than accounting and finance, and many of the famous names (Schmalenbach, Schmidt, Mahlberg, etc.) associated with the history of BWL were not, or not only, professors of accounting in a narrow sense. The VHB's membership represents 16 subject areas or sub-disciplines: banking and finance; business taxation; academic management; international management; logistics; marketing; sustainability management; public business administration; operations research; organization; human resources management; production management; accounting; technology, innovation and entrepreneurship; business information systems; and economic science (VHB website; see also Chapter 1). The subject group for accounting was formally constituted in 1977 and includes financial reporting, managerial accounting, controlling, and auditing (VHB website).

    Continued in the book review

    The author of The Politics of Accounting Regulation: Organizing Transnational Standard Setting in Financial Reporting, Sebastian Botzem, is a political scientist who focuses his particular research skills to the study of the politics of the International Accounting Standards Board. The reviewer, stuart Mcleay, writes as follows:

    . . .

    n its attempt to understand the contested and political nature of accounting standard setting, this interdisciplinary book focuses on the structures and the procedures that enable transnational rule-setting. The author starts with an outline of the social theory that may explain transnational accounting standardization, noting that the shared beliefs of professions have long been able to facilitate the social closure that is important to self-regulation, but that professional bodies no longer form the main loci of expertise in accounting standard setting. This is followed by a condensed account of the IASB's emergence as the pre-eminent international accounting standard setter. Botzem claims that, in getting to this position, the IASB has out-competed a number of other endeavors to draw up international accounting rules. This is a questionable interpretation, as the two supposed competitors to the IASB (the European Community and the United Nations) have not been greatly concerned with financial reporting standards per se, but, respectively, with the harmonization of company law across the member states of the European Union and the wider accountability of multinational companies. Rather than rival initiatives, these are components of a complex nexus of overlapping demands by social actors aimed at constraining the behavior of firms.

    The book also attempts to set the scene by drawing links between global capitalism and the content of international accounting standards, emphasizing the capital-market orientation embodied in fair value accounting. This too is overly simplistic, in my view—we do not have to look far for a counter-example in the potential usefulness of pension accounting of employee superannuation funds.

    The book continues with a reconstruction of the organizational development of the IASB, arguing that, while the privately run standard setter has established the necessary procedures to consult with interested parties, it has done so without handing over too much influence. In this respect, the author claims that the IASB has subordinated democratic accountability to the effectiveness of expertise-based standardization. This is a well-worn debate among accounting researchers, practitioners, and standard setters, not only the IASB. It is particularly instructive that the revised conceptual framework issued jointly by the IASB and FASB now limits the range of addressees of general purpose financial reporting to investors, lenders and other creditors, explicitly to assist them in making decisions about providing resources to the entity. Needless to say, political scientists should be aware that various social actors have sought to foist their own public policy objectives onto the regulation of financial statements, in an attempt to extend the remit of standard setting beyond that of financial reporting. Our understanding of the IASB requires in turn a greater appreciation of international consensus over the public policy objectives financial statements.

    Finally, the book reports on the author's own empirical research on organizational structures and processes, by providing an analysis of the dominant individuals and the most influential organizations within the IASB's wider network.

    Throughout the book, the IASB is portrayed as “a successful, private, transnational, regulatory body,” whose efforts to be outside of politics are nevertheless fundamentally political in nature. While the IASB is often referred to as a “regulator” in this way (both in this book and elsewhere), the broader perspective is that law-makers, together with the financial regulators and delegated agencies that produce “soft law,” contribute jointly to the complex framework of requirements that are placed on the regulated. At the same time, the multinational operations of regulated firms readily introduce legal and regulatory extraterritorialities that muddle institutional boundaries. While Botzem grapples with some of these complexities, and introduces the reader to useful universal notions such as “boundary spanning” when generalizing the diffusion of transnational standards over different social domains, a fuller understanding of the particularities of the IASB as a regulatory body requires a more developed appreciation of the way in which the various institutions of corporate regulation interact in influencing financial reporting. For instance, not only is the black letter of corporate law transposed readily from one jurisdiction to another, so too are the formal and informal rules and processes of accounting (as they have been since the Middle Ages). The level of statist interaction, or emulation, was already high before the advent of the IASB. I suspect that cultural specificity in accounting is marginal, and that other factors, such as differences in industrial structure, may explain not only international accounting practice differentiation (Jaafar and McLeay 2007) but also the within-country alliances that influence statist regulatory differentiation.

    In the latter part of the book, the analysis of the Board membership is based to a great extent on the CVs of the individuals involved. In contrast, the analysis of the other IASB bodies that are investigated (the Standards Advisory Council, SAC; the International Financial Reporting Interpretations Committee, IFRIC; and the trustees) depends greatly on the assumption that each member of these bodies is a “representative” of their employer. While the modeling is detailed, it builds on shaky ground in this respect. For example, a small number of universities are listed as employing organizations (Genoa, Northwestern, São Paulo, Tama, Unitec NZ, Waseda, and Wellington). It is difficult to believe that these organizations are “represented” in any way on IASB committees, and there is no obvious reason to expect that the individuals involved necessarily act as representatives of the wider academic community. Likewise, it is not necessarily the case that an employee of the General Electric Company is a “representative” of GE, who is just as likely to have been voted in by dint of other alliances or even on the basis of individual competences. Although it may be reasonable to infer that an employee of the Korean Accounting Standards Board is a “representative” of the KASB, or even of standard setters in general, it is still plausible that individual factors are as important as institutional representation in motivating involvement with the IASB, including membership of other networks. We require a deeper understanding of these interacting alliances formed by individual members. Moreover, the analysis would benefit from including the membership of the IASB's Monitoring Board, which consists of capital market regulators.

    Other aspects of the analysis in this book are similarly underdeveloped. Speaking of one current Board member, who has worked in India, Europe, and the United States, it is noted that “[h]e is a member of both the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and the American Institute of CPAs and therefore can be considered to be the ninth ‘Anglo-American' representative on the Board” (pp. 132–133). It does seem, here, as though an awkward fact is not allowed to get in the way of a good story. Unfortunately, the research places too much weight on the cliché of “Anglo-American domination.” It would be equally valid to interpret previous employment and early training with large audit firms as direct experience of international accounting, in transnational firms that command a global market in accounting and audit services. For instance, at the time of writing, just one of these firms has offices in 771 cities across 158 countries, with its employees distributed throughout Europe (34%), North America (25%), Asia (21%) and elsewhere (20%)—see PwC's Global Annual Review 2012.

    The author stretches the same point in other ways: “in their daily work the Board members draw on a foundation of experience rooted in an Anglo-American philosophy marked by an appreciation for private sector self-regulation and skepticism toward state intervention” (p. 133). Yet the 18 extracts from author interviews with IASB members (Tweedie is quoted nine times and Whittington four times) and others (Cairns is quoted twice, Mackintosh twice, and Mau once) provide little evidence of such attitudes, and the hypothesis therefore remains untested. Indeed, given that one of the main conclusions is that the IASB mode of expert-based self-regulation is under-representative of the users of accounting information, one might conclude that this is a very limited set of interviewees.

    Continued in article

    Jensen Comment
    I might add that accounting history is monumentally neglected in our North American accountancy doctoral programs and in our academic accountancy departments and in our top accounting research journals. Academic researchers prefer to take the easy way out by beating purchased database pinatas with sticks until findings, mostly uninteresting findings, fall into research journals that are largely ignored by the profession and accounting teachers ---
    http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/AccounticsDamn.htm#Essays


    The Sebastian Botzem book should probably be required reading in a course (probably an economics course) on the history and politics of regulation. Such a course would not be common in accounting departments. Great credit should be given to the great success that the IASB has had to date in bringing over 100 nations into the subset of nations that require IFRS totally or almost totally as the main set of financial reporting standards for auditors and investors. Although I'm doubtful that IFRS should replace current U.S. GAAP in the USA, my hat is off to the great success of relentless efforts by dedicated global accountants to succeed in the politics of IFRS. The USA is a special case, and nobody ever thought it would be easy to bring convergence of USA and IASB accounting standards.

    The USA is a special case because of its long history of raising business funding from equity markets that are almost non-existent in most of the 100+ nations who raise a greater share of capital from central banks and government taxation.

    The USA is a special case because of boots-on-the ground wars it has participated in since World War II. It's not possible to enter into so many fighting wars without polarizing the rest of the world into nations that respect the USA's effort to bring world peace versus those that despise the USA's political alignments and economic dominance, particularly alignments with Israel that inflame other parts of the world.

    The USA will carry a lot of political baggage to the IASB if the IASB standards are to be deployed in the USA. Our enemies rise up against us with both terror and with every political tool at their disposal, including the politics of the UN that will probably be carried over into the future politics of the IASB. This of course is Bob Jensen speaking and not repeating the more optimistic views of Sebastian Botzem. However, it's probably inevitable that the USA will join the IASB fold one day down the road.

    Steve Zeff in this edition of TAR has a capsule commentary with a scholarly forecast of The Future of IFRS that is much more optimistic
    Capsule Commentary on The Future of IFRS (London, U.K.: Financial Reporting Faculty of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, 2012, ISBN 978-0-85760-652-5, pp. 25). Downloadable at www.icaew.com.
    Reviewer Commentator:  STEPHEN A. ZEFF

    Bob Jensen's threads on controversies of accounting standard setting are at
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#MethodsForSetting


    MAAW's Accounting Systems for Business Index

    Our open sharing retired accounting professor, Jim Martin, who maintains the MAAW Website and Blog made the following posting on August 24, 2013 ---
    http://maaw.blogspot.com/

    I have developed an index of accounting systems for business to make it easier to find information related to a specific type of business, industry, or activity. I think you will find it interesting and you might also find it useful in your work. It is an ongoing project that I will update on a continuous basis.

    http://maaw.blogspot.com/2013/08/accounting-systems-for-business-index.html

    Illustrations
    Abandonment Losses

    Fleck, L. H. 1926. The incidence of abandonment losses. The Accounting Review (June): 48-59. (JSTOR link).

    Accounting Changes (Also see Changes)

    Hall, J. O. and C. R. Aldridge. 2007. Changes in accounting for changes. Journal of Accountancy (February): 45-50.

    Schwieger, B. J. 1977. A summary of accounting for and reporting on accounting changes. The Accounting Review (October): 946-949. (JSTOR link).

    Accounting and Business Machines

    Gould, S. W. 1935. The application of tabulating and accounting machines to real estate and mortgage accounting procedure. N.A.C.A. Bulletin (November 15): 261-277.

    Walker, R. 1947. Synchronized budgeting in the business machine industry. N.A.C.A. Bulletin (August 1): 1453-1470.

    Whisler, R. F. 1933. Factory payroll budget of the National Cash Register Company. N.A.C.A. Bulletin (February 1): 853-861.

    Woodbridge, J. S. 1959. The inventory concept of accounting as expressed by electronic data-processing machines and applied to international air transportation. N.A.A. Bulletin (October): 5-12. (International airline revenue accounting).

    Accounts Receivable Records

    Zeigler, N. B. 1938. Accounts receivable records and methods. N.A.C.A. Bulletin (January 15): 581-594.

    Activity Based Costing (See MAAW's ABC Topic)

    Ad Agency

    Mills, W. B. 1983. Drawing up a budgeting system for an ad agency. Management Accounting (December): 46-51, 59.

    Webster, K. and C. G. Uffelman. 1957. Cost reporting in an advertising agency. N.A.C.A. Bulletin (March): 899-905.

    Advertising (See MAAW's Marketing, Sales and Advertising Topic)

    Aerospace

    Van Tatenhove, J. M. 1969. Managing indirect costs in the aerospace industry. Management Accounting (September): 36-42, 48.

    Affiliates

    Paton, W. A. 1945. Transactions between affiliates. The Accounting Review (July): 255-266. (JSTOR link).

    . . .

    Works

    Dunkerley, R. 1926. Engineering costing and works accountancy - Its objects and necessity. N.A.C.A. Bulletin (March 15): 513-521.

    World's Fair (Also see Fair)

    McCaffrey, G. D. 1939. Accounting control at the New York World's Fair. N.A.C.A. Bulletin (August 1): 1483-1486.

    Wrought Iron (Also see Iron)

    Jensen, C. G. 1923. Cost problems in the wrought iron industry. National Association of Cost Accountants Official Publications (January 2): 3-18.

    Zinc Mine (Also see Mining)

    Smith, L. C. 1954. A cost system for a zinc mine. N.A.C.A. Bulletin (September): 37-47.

     

    The fantastic MAAW homepage is at ---
    http://maaw.info/


    "Accountants do it with sharp pencils"
    "The Surprising History of the Pencil," by Maria Popova, Brain Pickings, June 24, 2013 ---
    http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/06/24/history-of-the-pencil/


    Fun Facts About CPAs --- http://gordoncpablog.wordpress.com/2009/04/10/56/

    Before a standard numbering system was developed, ancient accountants used clay tokens to keep track of animals and grain.

    - The State of New York gave the first CPA exam in 1896.

    - The first African American CPA was John Wesley Cromwell, Jr., licensed in 1921. John went on to lead a very successful career after he became the controller of Howard University in 1930.

    - Bubble gum was reportedly invented in 1926 by Walter Diemer, a twenty-three year old accountant for the Fleer Corporation. The gum was pink because it was the only food coloring in the factory when the young accountant was experimenting with the gum recipes in his spare time.

    - Al Capone may have been the first American to make $100 million a year, but the law finally caught up with him in 1931. Special Agents from the IRS charged him with tax evasion. Accountants were responsible for ending the crime czar’s career.

    - Oscar winners always remember to thank their agents, fans, and co-stars, but they should also thank their CPAs. Accountants have controlled the ballots for the Academy Awards every year since 1935. A team of nine CPAs spend up to 1,700 hours prior to Oscar night counting the ballots cast in each category by hand.

    - Arthur Blank, co-founder of the Home Depot and owner of the Atlanta Falcons, is a CPA.

    - Ray Wersching, who was the kicker of the San Diego and San Francisco 49ers from 1973-1987, was a CPA during the off-season.

    - John Grisham, author of A Time to Kill, The Firm, and many other popular novels, received his undergraduate degree in accounting from Mississippi State University in 1981.

    - Former Texas Rangers Manager Kevin Kennedy, a CPA, did his players’ tax returns to make extra money when he managed in the minor leagues.

    - Nearly 1,400 of the FBI’s special agents are accountants. In fact, the #2 man at the FBI, Thomas Pickard, is a CPA.

    - In 1902, a competent accountant could expect to earn $2,000 per year.

    - Christine Ross, the first woman CPA in the U.S., received her New York state CPA certificate in 1899.

    - The original due date to file individual tax returns was March 1. It changed to March 15 in 1918, and finally to April 15 in 1955


    Judith Drake (scholar on barriers to women in physical and mental work, including accounting) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judith_Drake

    Eight Special Women of Accounting --- http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/Issues/2007/Aug/EightSpecialWomenInAccounting.htm

    Among the AICPA-donated volumes at Ole Miss are two binders containing photographs of individuals appearing in the JofA or at accounting conventions from 1887 to 1979. Of the 446 individuals featured, eight are women—Christine Ross, Ellen Libby Eastman, Miriam Donnelly, Mary E. Murphy, Helen Lord, Helen H. Fortune, Mary E. Lewis and Beth M. Thompson. In a time when the profession was the all-but-exclusive domain of men, they stood out not only because of their gender but in many cases because of their accomplishments and contributions to accounting. Consider that in 1933, slightly more than 100 CPA certificates had been issued to women. By 1946, World War II had changed traditional notions of gender in the workplace, and female CPAs had more than tripled to 360—still a small contingent but, as information gleaned from the AICPA Library indicates, one capable of exerting a strong and beneficial influence on the profession.


    Christine Ross

    Born about 1873 in Nova Scotia, Ross took New York by storm in the late 1890s. New York state enacted licensure legislation in 1896 and gave its inaugural CPA exam in December 1896. Ross sat for the exam in June 1898, scoring second or third in her group. Six to 18 months elapsed while her certificate was delayed by state regents because of her gender. But she had completed the requirements and became the first woman CPA in the United States, receiving certificate no. 143 on Dec. 21, 1899.

    Ross began practicing accounting around 1889. For several years, she worked for Manning’s Yacht Agency in New York. Her clients included women’s organizations, wealthy women and those in fashion and business.

    Helen Lord
    Lord received her CPA certificate from New York in 1934 and in 1935 joined the American Society of Certified Public Accountants, which merged with the American Institute of Accountants (later AICPA) the following year. In 1937, she was a partner with her father in the New York firm of Lord & Lord and a member of the AIA. She served in the late 1940s as business manager of The Woman CPA, published by the American Woman’s Society of Certified Public Accountants–American Society of Women Accountants. Lord reported the journal then had a circulation of more than 2,200.

    Helen Hifner Fortune
    Fortune, one of the first women CPAs in Kentucky, received certificate no. 174 in 1935 and was admitted to the AIA the following year. She became a member of an AIA committee in 1942 and by 1947 was a partner in the Lexington, Ky., firm of Hifner and Fortune.

    Ellen Libby Eastman
    Eastman began her career as a clerk in a Maine lumber company, eventually becoming chief accountant. She studied for the CPA exam at night and became the first woman CPA in Maine, receiving certificate no. 37 dated 1918. She was also the first woman to establish a public accounting practice in New England. Arriving in New York in 1920, Eastman focused on tax work and audited the accounts of the American Women’s Hospital in Greece. In 1925, she was a member of the ASCPA. In 1940, Eastman began working with the law firm of Hawkins, Delafield & Longfellow in New York.

    She was outspoken and eloquent regarding a woman’s ability to succeed in accounting. In a 1929 article in The Certified Public Accountant, Eastman recounted her adventures:

    One must be willing and able to endure long and irregular hours, unusual working arrangements and difficult travel conditions. I have worked eighteen out of the twenty-four hours of a day with time for but one meal; I have worked in the office of a bank president with its mahogany furnishings and oriental rugs and I have worked in the corner of a grain mill with a grain bin for a desk and a salt box for a chair; I have been accorded the courtesy of the private car and chauffeur of my client and have also walked two miles over the top of a mountain to a lumber camp inaccessible even with a Ford car. I have ridden from ten to fifteen miles into the country after leaving the railroad, the only conveyance being a horse and traverse runners—and this in the severity of a New England winter. I have done it with a thermometer registering fourteen degrees below zero and a twenty-five mile per hour gale blowing. I have chilled my feet and frozen my nose for the sake of success in a job which I love. I have been snowbound in railroad stations and have been stranded five miles from a garage with both rear tires of my car flat. I have ridden into and out of open culvert ditches with the workmen shouting warnings to me. And always one must keep the appointment; “how” is not the client’s concern.
     

    Mary E. Murphy
    A long-lived pioneer, Murphy (1905–1985) lectured, researched and taught in the United States and abroad, retiring in 1973. The Iowa native earned her bachelor of commerce degree with a major in accounting from the University of Iowa in 1927, then obtained a master’s in accountancy in 1928 from Columbia University Business School. In 1938, she received a doctorate in accountancy—only the second woman in the United States to do so—from the London School of Economics.

    In 1928, Murphy began working in the New York office of Lybrand, Ross Bros. & Montgomery. Two years later, she took the CPA exam in Iowa and received certificate no. 67, to become the first woman CPA in Iowa. She joined the AIA in 1937.

    Following her public accounting stint, she served for three years as the chair of the Department of Commerce at St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind. Murphy also was an assistant professor of economics at Hunter College of the City University of New York until 1951. In 1952, she received the first Fulbright professorship of accounting, with assignments in Australia and New Zealand. In 1957, she was appointed as the first director of research of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia. Murphy retired in 1973 from the accounting faculty at California State University.

    She published or collaborated on more than 20 books and 100 journal articles and many book reviews and scholarly papers. From 1946 to 1965 she was the most frequently published author in The Accounting Review. Murphy investigated the role of accounting in the economy, made the case for accounting education improvements and paved the way for other aspiring women accountants to prosper. More than half her publications explored international accounting, often advocating standardization. She also emphasized accounting history and biographies.

    Mary E. Lewis
    Lewis received California CPA certificate no. 1404 in 1939. She was admitted to the AIA that year and by 1947 had her own firm in Los Angeles.
     

    Beth M. Thompson
    Thompson worked as the office manager in the Kentucky Automobile Agency she and her husband, Charles R. Thompson, owned. After closing the car business, they moved to Florida, where she worked for an accounting firm. She passed the CPA exam in 1951 with the encouragement of her husband and opened her own accounting business in Miami. In 1955, Thompson was one of only 900 women CPAs and the only female president of a state association chapter—the Dade County chapter of the Florida Institute of CPAs.

    Miriam Donnelly
    From 1949 to 1955, Donnelly was head librarian of the AIA library. (In 1957, the AIA was renamed the AICPA.) She began her career with the library as assistant librarian and cataloger in 1927, after working for two governmental libraries and the New York Public Library.

     

    History of women accountants in the 1880. US Federal Census ---
    http://repository.usfca.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=acct

    Christine Ross (The First Woman CPA) --- Click Here
    http://books.google.com/books?id=W8Z2a53DJ2cC&pg=PA151&lpg=PA151&dq=%22First+Woman+CPA%22&source=bl&ots=irXssMWzFN&sig=0AneWv1qO-MB6_ixatHq-mMerRQ&hl=en&sa=X&ei=N8o8UY3XBYrK0AHngoCYBw&ved=0CDgQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=%22First%20Woman%20CPA%22&f=false

    Mary Jo McCann (First Woman CPA in Kansas) ---
    http://www.kscpa.org/about/news/119-mary_jo_mccann_first_woman_cpa_in_kansas_passes

    Bertha Aldrich (First Woman CPA in California) --- http://boards.ancestry.com/surnames.aldrich/600/mb.ashx

    Accounting Reform (search for women) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accounting_reform

    American Society of Women Accountants --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Cambridge#Women.27s_education

    Accounting and Financial Women's Alliance --- http://www.afwa.org/

    Accounting History Libraries at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) --- http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/accountancy/libraries.html
    There are many items pertaining to accounting women in history, especially in the Accounting Historians Journal

    Ruth Andersen, First Woman on the Board of a Big Four Accounting Firm --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Anderson_%28accountant%29

    Cynthia Cooper (Internal auditor who blew the whistle at WorldCom) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynthia_Cooper_%28accountant%29

    Lynn Brewer was never enough of a player to even mention in my threads on the Enron scandal
    The foul mouthed Sherron Watkins was the significant whistleblowers at Enron
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnronQuiz.htm#10

    Grace Andrews (early mathematician and accountant in Barnard College) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_Andrews_%28mathematician%29

    Patricia Courtney (IRS agent and professional baseball star) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patricia_Courtney

    Patrecia Barringer (Tax accountant, auditor, and professional baseball star) ---http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patricia_Barringer

    Helen Nordquist (Telephone operator, accountant, and professional baseball star) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Nordquist

    Rita Lee (Accounting Student Tennis Star) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janet_Lee

    Diane Cummins (Canadian Accountant Track Star) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diane_Cummins

    Sue Hearnshaw (British Chartered Accountant and Long Jump Star) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sue_Hearnshaw

    Betty Wagner Spandikow (Accountant Who Became an Advocate of Breast Feeding) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betty_Wagner_Spandikow

    Jennifer Archer (Oil and Gas Accountant Turned Fiction Writer) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jennifer_Archer

     

    Women in Business --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_business

    American Business Women Association --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Business_Women%27s_Association

    9 to 5 Film --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9_to_5_%28musical%29

    Career Women --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Career_woman

    A History of Entrereneurship
    "Who Are The Entrepreneurs: The Elite or the Everyday Man? A History of Entrepreneurship," by Heather A. Haveman, Jacob Habinek, and Leo A Googman, UC Berkeley,  2011 ---
    http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/392635v2;jsessionid=00ECE18AD2472F4956AAF2D00CC2132E#page-2
     Who Are The Entrepreneurs: The Elite or the Everyday Man? A History of Entrepreneurship

    China's Tiger Woman Billionaires ---
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/03/04/amy-chua-profiles-four-female-tycoons-in-china.html

    "Liz Claiborne Must Say Adieu to Liz," by: Dana Mattioli, The Wall Street Journal, October 13, 2011 ---
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203914304576626711202553884.html?mod=djem_jiewr_AC_domainid

     


    Debt --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debt

    History of Money and Debt --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_money

    Debt (booked by accountants) versus Entitlements (promises made that are not yet booked) ---
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entitlement

    "We've Always Been Deadbeats Debt is not a new American way," by Scott Reynolds Nelson, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 10, 2012 ---
    http://chronicle.com/article/Borrowed-Dreams/134146/

    My father was a repo man. He did not look the part, which made him all the more effective. He alternately wore a long mustache or a shaggy beard and owned bell-bottoms in black, blue, and cherry red. His imitation-silk shirts were festooned with city maps, cartoon characters, or sailing ships. Dad sang in the car, at the top of his lungs, mostly obscure show tunes. His white Dodge Dart had Mach 1 racing stripes that he had lifted from a souped-up Ford Mustang. The "deadbeats" saw him coming, that's for sure, but they did not understand his profession until he walked into their homes and took away their televisions.

    Dad worked for Woolco, a company that lent appliances on an installment plan. When borrowers failed to pay, ignored the letters and phone calls, my father would come by. He often posed as a meter reader or someone with a broken-down car. If he saw a random object lying abandoned in the yard, he would pick it up and bring it to the door as if he were returning it. He was warm and funny, charming, but pushy. He did not carry a gun, but he was fearless under pressure and impervious to verbal abuse. If the door opened, he was inside; if he was inside, he shortly had his hands on the appliance; the rest was bookkeeping.

    . . .

    In each case, lenders had created complex financial instruments to protect themselves from defaulters like the ones I watched from the car. And in each case, the very complexity of the chain of institutions linking borrowers and lenders made it impossible for those lenders to distinguish good loans from bad.

    In 1837, for example, banks in the north of England discovered that the unpaid "cotton bills of exchange" in their vaults made them the indirect owners of slaves in Mississippi. In 2007, shareholders in DBS, the largest bank in Singapore, found themselves part owners of homes facing foreclosure in California, Florida, and Nevada. In both cases, efficient foreclosure proved impossible.

    In those crashes in America's past, perhaps a repo man in a Dodge Dart with a million gallons of gas could have visited every debtor, edged his way in, and decided who was good for it. (My dad did accept cash or money orders for Woolco's goods.) But big lenders have neither the time nor the capacity to act with the diligence of a repo man. Instead, such lenders (let's agree to call them all banks) try to unload debts, hide from their own creditors, go into bankruptcy, and call on state and federal institutions for relief. Banks have also routinely overestimated the collateral—the underlying asset—for the loans they hold. When those debts go unpaid or appear unpayable, banks quickly withdraw lending; the teller's window slams shut. A crisis on Wall Street becomes a crisis on Main Street. Money is tight. Loans are impossible: Crash.

    ***

    Scholarship on these financial downturns has its own long and checkered past.

    From the 1880s to the 1950s, scholars told the history of the nation's economic downturns as the history of banks. Such an approach was not entirely wrong, but it tended to focus on big personalities like J.P. Morgan or New York institutions; it tended to ignore the farmers, artisans, slaveholders, and shopkeepers whose borrowing had fed the booms and busts.

    Then, in the 1960s and 1970s, the so-called new economic historians (or cliometricians) came along with a different story. Using state and federal data, they tried to build mathematical models of the nation's financial health. Moving beyond banks, they emphasized what they termed the "real economy," by which they meant measurable indices of growth and profit. Taking the nation's health like a simple temperature reading, they used gross domestic product, gross income, or collective return on investment. Of course, none of those figures had been measured directly before the 1930s, and so the prognoses tended to vary widely.

    Such economic models of financial health, however scientific they looked, tended to be abstract representations of an economy that was, in fact, more complex and more interconnected than they pictured. The models, for example, often assumed that old banks were like modern banks, sharing common accounting principles, or that because banks first issued credit cards in the 1960s, they offered no consumer credit before then. Drilling into historical documents for seemingly relevant numbers, then plugging those numbers into a model of a world they understood rather than the economy they sought to describe, the cliometricians often produced ahistorical work. Hence, one economic historian assumed that American barrels of flour sent to New Orleans were consumed in the South, though most were bound for re-export to the Caribbean. Another calculated that railroads played little role in America's economic booms by modeling a scenario in which canals could have (somehow) crossed the arid plains into the Sierra Nevada mountains.

    Bear in mind, that same kind of intellectual hubris about models of economic behavior had awful effects in the recent past. Around 2000, Barclays Bank borrowed a simple diffusion model from physics (called the "Gaussian copula function") to suggest that foreclosures would have a relatively small effect on nearby property values. Economists tested it with two years of foreclosure and price data and agreed. Billions of investment in real-estate followed, often in indirect markets like real-estate derivatives and collateralized debt obligations. By 2008 the model proved shockingly inaccurate.

    If some historians focused on the temperature of the "real economy," economists were becoming obsessed with the money supply as the single factor explaining most American panics. Again, a certain kind of blindness to the history of debt and deadbeats ensued. The most important book here was Milton Friedman and Anna Jacobson Schwartz's seminal A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960 (1963). It urged economists to steer away from stories of speculation spun out by Keynesians like John Kenneth Galbraith.

    How, according to Friedman and Schwartz, can we separate speculation and investment? All loans are risky. The riskier they are, the higher the return. Some investments will fail. Markets need to clear, and those buyers who come along to sweep up bargains are not ruthless profiteers but simply maximizers who make markets work. Thus, the pair steered economists away from problems of risk and toward the problems of state intervention. They were the prophets of financial deregulation.

    Their story about past financial panics had the advantage of suggesting simple solutions: Use the Federal Reserve to inflate or deflate the currency. For them, financial crises were mostly monetary. Thus, the 1929 downturn started with a financial shock and then was prolonged by an overly tight monetary policy. After A Monetary History became gospel, economics textbooks dropped their numerous chapters on financial panics because the policy solution became so clear; economists trained after 1965 know little about financial downturns before the Great Depression.

    Yet a tripling of the money supply has still not fully pulled the United States and the rest of the world out of our current financial crisis—suggesting that our problems, and all the previous ones, were not just monetary. My dad would have pointed out that economists have misunderstood the problem. Crises are mostly about productive assets—the promises in his trunk.

    Social historians (and I count myself among them) tell a very different story about financial panics, but we have our own blind spots. Since the late 1960s, we have often discussed the American economy as if farmers were coherent families of self-sufficient yeomen surprised by the market economy. That story of a sudden revolution misses the early and intimate relationship between Americans and credit. It overlooks how American stores provided consumer credit to farmers, plantations owners, and renters who settled the West.

    Thus, American social historians have used the term "market revolution" to describe the period after the 1819 panic. Accordingly market forces rushed in as repo men like my dad became vanguards of a new capitalist order. The financial jeremiads of Jacksonian Democrats of the 1820s and 30s against bankers and paper money became the natural outgrowth of frontier farmers' anger at a capitalism they had never seen before. But the store system of Andrew Jackson's day borrowed practices from the colonial store system that goes back to the 17th century, if not earlier. It was how the fur-trading and East and West India companies prospered. John Jacob Astor and Andrew Jackson were cut from the same cloth. They made their fortunes from their stores, and their store system made settlement possible.

    Part of the reason we overlook the importance of credit in American history is our continued attachment to Marx's divide between precapitalist and capitalist forms of agriculture. That misses the relationship between farming and credit for most of the people who settled America. The more I study panics, the more I am persuaded that the pioneer American institution of the 18th and early 19th centuries was not the homestead or the trapper's shack but the store, an institution that sold foreign goods to farmers on credit, taking payment in easily movable settler products like furs, potash, barrel hoops, and butter.

    Rather than imagining some golden age of subsistence, scholars in the Marxist tradition should look more closely at anticapitalist movements in the wake of panics. I include here not just the utopian and religious communities like Quakers, Shakers, and Oneidans but also the early Mormons, the Grangers, and the Populists. Those people understood what it meant for banks, and then railroads, to extend credit through stores. Often regarding capital as a collective inheritance, they built their own associations to replace such institutions of credit (and the railroad was an institution of credit) with locally managed cooperatives that distributed agricultural benefits in a way that served the broader community. The temple, the elevator, and the cooperative were attempts to break the chain of debt without demonizing capital.

    From the perspective of business history, Joseph A. Schumpeter argued that business-cycle downturns came from periods of "creative destruction" in which new technologies undermined old ones. Outdated technologies, with millions invested in them, became instantly obsolete, leading to financial failures that cascaded to other industries. While Schumpeter, who died in 1950, once persuaded me, I think there is a mechanistic fallacy in the argument. Railroads, for example, have taken the blame for the 1857, 1873 and 1893 downturns. While there may be something there, the whole account seems reductive and technologically determinist. For example, canals, the Bessemer process, fractional distillation of oil, and washing machines are all revolutionary technologies that flourished during the American panics, not before them. They did sweep away older technologies, but rather than causing panics those technologies benefited by the uncertainty that panic created.

    In a very different camp, neo-Marxists like Giovanni Arrighi and David Harvey betray a similar kind of reductive history, a latter-day Schumpeterianism. Their work posits a "spatial fix," a center of capitalism that then organizes and draws tribute from the rest of the world. For the late Arrighi, it was a kind of pump that sucked assets from elsewhere as states were forming throughout the sweep of centuries. For Harvey it is an investment in a capital city (Amsterdam, London, New York) and a new communication technology (telegraph, telephone, the Internet) that drew higher profits from everywhere else. Dutch and British hegemony became American hegemony after World War II. That suggests that these scholars have not really considered the tremendous influence of the U.S. Federal Reserve in reorienting international trade between 1913 and the 1920s. Their story seems more or less political to me: American empire comes when Americans claim victory in World War II. The economic material seems to be used in the service of a story about the rise and decline of empires.

    If we follow the money, the American empire emerged during World War I, when the international flow of debt changed drastically. For Arrighi and Harvey, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are the pathbreakers of financial empire. But it is worth remembering that those institutions were explicitly designed to restrain the dirty tricks of financial empires of the 1920s and 1930s: No more American banks using gunboat diplomacy in Peru; no more Germans sending tanks into Poland to collect unpaid debts.

    ***

    As a historian, I have learned the most about financial disasters from long-dead historians whose work blended primary, secondary, and quantitative material. Rosa Luxemburg, William Graham Sumner, Frank W. Taussig, and Charles Kindleberger would never have agreed about anything. Luxemburg, a renegade Marxist who read in five languages, described how the dangerous mix of a hierarchical production process with the anarchy of international trade could lead manufacturers to block free trade and embrace higher prices for their raw materials in the wake of a panic. Sumner, a laissez-faire Social Darwinist who argued that income inequality benefited society, carefully explained how drastic economic changes could follow from tiny changes in international trade deals. Put in a room together, each would have retreated to a corner to begin throwing furniture. But they and the others were storytellers who used a mixture of sources. Telling a story by looking through the trunk of assets and watching the damage afterward makes more sense to me than simple models of financial contagion, money supply, technological watersheds, or global fixes.

    My father died before I started writing about financial panics, but my thoughts have grown out of our 30-year-long argument about financial downturns. Not surprisingly, he disliked "deadbeats," seeing them as the people whose false promises weakened our country. He probably had a point, and no doubt the executives of Woolco would agree. But I find much in them to admire, for defaulters are often dreamers. Viewing America's financial panics through the lens of numerous unfulfilled and forgotten debts that even the oldest banker cannot possibly remember can afford a perspective my dad would have appreciated: with my view from the Dodge Dart, the minute he rang the doorbell, when both debtor and creditor prepared their stories.

    Scott Reynolds Nelson is a professor of history at the College of William and Mary. His book A Nation of Deadbeats: An Uncommon History of America's Financial Disasters has just been published by Alfred A. Knopf.

    Video
    "Debt: The First 5,000 Years," by Paul Kedrosky , Kedrosky.com, September 10, 2011 --- Click Here
    http://paul.kedrosky.com/archives/2011/09/debt-the-first-5000-years.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+InfectiousGreed+%28Paul+Kedrosky%27s+Infectious+Greed%29

    Debt versus Equity --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory02.htm#FAS150

    The booked National Debt in August 2012 went over $16 trillion ---
    U.S. National Debt Clock --- http://www.usdebtclock.org/
    Also see http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock/
    The unbooked entitlements have a present value between $80 and $100 trillion. But who's counting?

    Pending Collapse of the United States --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Entitlements.htm

    Should we never pay down  (even partly) the U.S. National Debt or Spending Deficit? ---
    http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/NationalDeficit-Debt.htm


    In 1837, the Massachusetts Board of Education devoted part of its first annual report to praising a recent classroom innovation called the blackboard. This “invaluable and indispensible” innovation...
    On March 4, 2013 the Financial Education Daily Linked this Quotation to the Harvard Gazette, but I could not find the source of the quote.

    "From Law School to Business School — evolution of the case method," Harvard Gazette, April 3, 2008
    http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2008/04/from-law-school-to-business-school-%E2%80%94-evolution-of-the-case-method/

    On a recent Wednesday morning, 90 high achievers from around the world prepared to get down to cases.

    Their professor buzzed through the classroom like a worker bee. Armed with large, multicolored pieces of chalk, he organized his notes, copied pastel-coded facts and figures on the blackboard, and set up a film screen. Soon his students would be equally hard at work, but in a strictly cerebral way.

    This day the instructor was inclined to be kind, giving the young man who would open the class discussion an early heads-up, allowing some time to prepare. Often in this setting, classes start with the heart-pounding “cold call,” where a student is put to the test without warning. The deceptively simple “start us off” translates into “as quickly and coherently and convincingly as possible, tell us everything known about this situation and give us your best insight.”

    As well as being busy and congenial, Jan Rivkin, a professor in the strategy unit at Harvard Business School (HBS), was clearly engaging, his enthusiasm infectious, his sense of humor unmistakable.

    He started with a brief refresher video, one he’d secured from a colleague on holiday in the Bahamas. The class watched their vacationing instructor drop to his knees on the beach as the tape rolled. With a straight face, he reviewed the finer points of his recent technology-operations-management discussion with the class, drawing a series of overlapping diagrams in the sand. When done, he promptly jumped into the ocean.

    The crowd loved it, but it was the last light moment. For the next hour-and-a-half the class examined whether the Spanish clothing company Zara should update its retailers’ IT infrastructure.

    During the ensuing discussion and debate, Jan Rivkin, deftly prodded, questioned, and encouraged his deeply engaged class.

    It was just another day at HBS — and one of its standard case-classes. The case method is the primary mode of teaching and learning at the institution, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. In honor of its centennial, the School will host a series of events on Tuesday (April 8) that will include a number of panels, a birthday celebration, and a case discussion on the future of HBS.

    While it didn’t begin with the School’s inception, the revolutionary instructional approach followed shortly thereafter. But it wasn’t an entirely novel concept. The model was actually borrowed from the Harvard Law School and Christopher Columbus Langdell HLS Class of 1853 and dean of the Law School in 1870, who pioneered the technique for the examination of Harvard Law School cases.

    Later, at HBS, it was Dean Wallace P. Donham, a Law School grad familiar with the technique, who pushed for the full inclusion of the case method at the Business School, where it was altered and adapted to a business perspective. Since 1921, it has been a core part of the curriculum.

    The method of teaching differs greatly from the traditional lecture format, in which students take notes as the professor speaks. Instead, students are engaged in a dynamic back-and-forth with one another and their professor, discussing a topic typically pulled from a relevant, real-life business scenario and featuring a dilemma or challenge. Sometimes, once the class has examined and discussed the case, the actual CEO or president of the company in question will appear in person to explain how the situation ultimately unfolded.

    The case topics are wide-ranging and include everything from the world of finance to semiconductors to sweeteners to satellite television.

    Some cases offer historic reflections, employing the lessons tragedy imparts. Cases have been written, for example, about the space shuttle Columbia’s final mission in 2003 and the management decisions made prior to its fatal re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, Abraham Lincoln’s leadership during the Civil War, and the management of national intelligence prior to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

    Students are given an overview of the case’s material to read ahead of time. The packets, roughly 20 to 25 pages long, include a list of facts, an outline of the challenge at hand, and a history of the company or situation in text, charts, and graphs, all compiled into a neat brief.

    More than 80 percent of HBS classes are built on the case method. Each week students prepare approximately 14 cases both alone and with the help of study groups. But in the end they are on their own. In class, it is up to the individual to articulate his or her argument and persuade others of its merits. A hefty 50 percent of a student’s grade is determined by class participation, so taking part in the conversation is crucial. Students raise their hands energetically, trying to get quality “air time,” as they call it. Two important unwritten rules, self-enforced by the students themselves: Never speak unless you have something valuable to contribute, and keep it brief.

    The teaching technique most effectively prepares the CEOs of tomorrow for what they will inevitably face in the real world, say the professors who employ it.

    “Getting a piece of material, having to sift through it, figure out what’s important, … come to a point of view, [then] come to class both prepared to argue that point of view … [and] prepared to listen and be open to others’ viewpoints — those are the skills that the business world demands, and via the case method they get to practice those in the classroom,” said Michael J. Roberts, senior lecturer of business administration and executive director of the Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship.

    Continued in article

    March 4, 2013 reply from Steve Zeff

    Bob,

    Thanks for this. I presume you save seen my article, "The Contribution of the Harvard Business School to Management Control, 1908 - 1980," in the special issue 2008 of JMAR. Bob Kaplan invited me to do the research and write the article for the April 2008 history symposium at HBS, which kicked off its 100th anniversary celebration. I attach the article.

    Steve.

    "How Virtual Teams Can Outperform Traditional Teams," by Jason Sylva, Harvard Business Review Blog, October 9, 2012 --- Click Here
    http://blogs.hbr.org/events/2012/10/how-virtual-teams-can-outperfo.html?referral=00563&cm_mmc=email-_-newsletter-_-daily_alert-_-alert_date&utm_source=newsletter_daily_alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=alert_date

    People can easily list problems they believe are associated with virtual teams: They haven't met and don't really know other team members; it is hard to monitor the work of others; and dispersions can lead to big inefficiencies and degraded performance.

    In this HBR webinar, Keith Ferrazzi, a foremost expert on professional relationship development and author of Never Eat Alone and Who's Got Your Back?, shares a strategy for managing virtual teams that can change how your company operates - and how you manage for years to come.

    Continued in article

    Jensen Comment
    This theory should be tested in a variety of ways with respect to case analysis by teams. I've always argued that case learning is best in live classrooms, but I'm beginning to doubt myself on this one. Even Harvard and Darden should experiment with onsite versus online team assignments. One advantage of online team assignments is grading if instructors carefully track team member contributions, possibly by monitoring online performance as silent or active (avatar) trackers.

    Bob Jensen's threads on case method teaching and research ---
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#Cases

     


    January 13, 2013 from Jim Martin

    I have developed a time-line of accounting historical dates and events from
    1812 to 2012 summarizing materials from various sources. It could be used as
    the basis for a short or a long course on accounting history, or as a
    reference source for accounting events. I suspect most accounting students
    get very little exposure to accounting history. This resource is offered to
    help alleviate that problem.


    The link is http://maaw.info/AccountingHistoryDatesAndEvents.htm

    January 26 reply from Steve Zeff

    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for the alert. It is a nice list, but he puts May's Financial Accounting: A Distillation of Experience in 1953 instead of 1943.

    Cheers.

    Steve.

     


  • Origins of Statistical Sampling in Financial Auditing

    January 31, 2013 message from Bob Jensen

    A precursor of risk-based auditing was statistical sampling in auditing.

    Is there an earlier reference than the following?

    Stringer. K.W.. 1963, "Practical aspects of statistical sampling in auditing. Proceedings of the Business and Economic Statistics Section. American Statistical Association. 405-411.

    Ken Stringer was a well-known partner in Haskins & Sells in those days. Was H&S the first auditing firm to innovate widespread applications of statistical sampling in auditing?

    Bob Jensen

    February 1, 2013 reply from Steve Zeff

    A firm that worked closely with H&S on statistical sampling in the 1970s and 1980s was Clarkson, Gordon & Co., the premier public accounting firm in Canada, based in Toronto. Their partners Rod Anderson and Don Leslie were both significant figures in this work. Don was very active in the AAA's Auditing Section. Both are still living but retired. Don's latest address is: donald.a.leslie@gmail.com He can tell you a lot about academic work in statistical sampling that was influential in shaping practice.

    Steve.

    January 31, 2013 reply from Beryl Simonson

    I still have “Handbook of Sampling for Auditing and Accounting” by Herbert Arkin, Professor of Business Statistics, City College of New York, copyright 1963 in my personal office library published by McGraw-Hill.

    Beryl D. Simonson CPA

     

    January 31, 2013 reply from Richard Sansing

    To the internets!

    http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=1363&page=62

    Carman, Lewis A. 1933. The Efficiency of Tests. The American Accountant, December, 360-66.

    "This paper proposes application of a simple probability model for
    computing the sampling risk in auditing and is the first publication
    of such an attempt in accounting."

    Richard Sansing

     A Summary of Sampling and Statistics in Compliance Testing ---
    http://www.willyancey.com/


    February 1, 2013 reply from Dale Flesher

    Bob:

     

    I agree that Stringer was the originator of Probability-Proportional-to-Size Sampling, and some other innovations.  Of course he wasn’t a professor (the subject of our correspondence this morning).  Trueblood also did some statistical work, including the first book.  See the paragraphs below, which are from a book I am currently working on dealing with the history of Deloitte.

     

                    Dale

     

    Ken Stringer, Robert Trueblood, and Statistical Sampling

                During the late 1940s and early 1950s, the use of statistical sampling began to occur in fields other than accounting.  The technique was used by numerous manufacturers in their quality testing and inspection procedures, in many instances dating back to the World War II years.  Similarly, the technique was used in engineering design and military logistics.  More broadly, even the decision to inoculate millions of American children with the Jonus Salk polio vaccine in 1955 was based upon conclusions reached in a statistical sampling process.  As a result, the American Institute moved to investigate the application of statistical sampling in accounting and auditing.  The AICPA was concerned with the perceived need for a more objective approach to determining sample sizes during audit procedures.  Before statistical sampling, the number of items to be tested was based on the judgment of the individual auditor on a subjective basis—a process that would leave the audit firm open to second guessing when an audit failure occurred.  Without statistical principles, any population sample size was arbitrary.  Thus, a non-statistical sample (typically called a “judgment” sample) might be insufficient, or excessive; no one could determine which.    

                Both Touche Ross and H&S were early experimenters with statistical sampling techniques, as was Price Waterhouse & Company.  According to Oscar Gellein, none of the other Big Eight firms had any early involvement in the subject.   At Touche, it was Robert M. Trueblood who was the initial pioneer.  When the AICPA named its first Committee on Statistical Sampling in 1956, it was Trueblood who was selected as the chairman, primarily because  Trueblood was also the principal author on what is likely the first book [Trueblood and Cyert, 1957] written by an accountant on the use of statistical sampling in accounting and auditing.  One study stated that Trueblood’s work at what was then Touche, Niven, Bailey & Smart constituted the earliest experiment with applications of statistical sampling by any major accounting firm [Tucker and Lordi, 1997, p. 96].  Trueblood pointed out in his book one of the main reasons that the AICPA was interested in the subject of statistical sampling—the legal liability issue.

    Should auditors’ present methods of test-checking prove inadequate in a particular case, would it not be difficult for the profession to justify its failure to use a technique found to be of such material help in other professional fields?  Is it possible to argue, at the present time, that the profession has adequately tested the practicability of scientific sampling and mathematical probability?  What would happen if in a court proceeding involving accountants' liability, a competent statistician were to demonstrate mathematically that the auditor's sampling procedures or conclusions were not statistically justifiable? [Trueblood and Cyert, 1957, p.61].

     

    Thus, the profession needed a statistical sampling plan that would not only be effective and objective, but would be defensible in a court of law.  The firms of Touche and H&S would come together, via an AICPA committee, to bring the profession out of the statistical dark ages.  As was pointed out in a study on the subject:

    Gellein's memo reveals that large CPA firms shared information regarding their individual in-house experimentation with statistical sampling as well as their progress-to-date. This suggests that a spirit of collegial cooperation existed among the firms rather than one of competition-related secrecy [Tucker and Lordi, 1997, p. 110].

     

                The AICPA Committee on Statistical Sampling (CSS) was an advisor to and reported to the Committee on Auditing Standards.  Trueblood was designated as the chairman because of his recently authored book.  Oscar Gellein of H&S was also a member of the CSS.  Gellein was also serving simultaneously on the New York State Society of CPAs’ statistical sampling committee which was formed at about the same time as the AICPA committee.  Progress was slow in coming.  Trueblood described the committee’s first two years of activities in the following words:

    Mr. President, members of the Council.  The Committee on Statistical Sampling has held five two-day meetings since it was first organized in October or November, 1956.  It is, of course, regarded as a satellite committee to the Committee on Auditing Procedures and our purpose and our function is investigative and exploratory in a rather new area.  For this reason, during the first year, our meetings were almost totally of a self-educational nature.  They were devoted to exploring the subject of statistical sampling both from the accountant's point of view and from the statistician's point of view.  They were also devoted to studying problems involved in the possible or ultimate utilization of statistical sampling techniques as an auditing tool.

     

    During our second year we have gone into a slightly more productive type of program.  Our production is modest at best.  First, we have developed a glossary of statistical terms which, in a sense, is a layman's dictionary of such terms and a bibliography of literature on the general subject of statistical sampling.  This glossary and bibliography is now in the process of production and will shortly be available to members on request [Trueblood, 1958; as quoted in Tucker and Lordi, 1997, p. 102]. 

     

    Much of the early work of the CSS focused on the legal aspects of statistical sampling.  The field of statistical sampling was still in its infancy and much of the theoretical underpinnings had to be learned by the committee members.  In a report to the leadership of H&S, Oscar Gellein summarized the first year of the CSS as a time of “attempting to catch up with developments that had taken place in the application of statistical sampling to accounting.  The Committee perceived its mission to be that of keeping abreast of developments in the field and keeping the profession informed” [Tucker and Lordi, 1997, p. 108].

                At H&S, Kenneth W. Stringer had long been dissatisfied with the subjective nature of judgment sampling.  Throughout his career, he had observed that in similar audit situations, different auditors selected widely different sample sizes.  As a result, he was to develop one of the most frequently used methods—probability-proportional-to-size (PPS) sampling.  In 1959, he conducted a case study among H&S senior auditors who were asked to select sample sizes in four different situations.  For example, the auditors were told to select a sample size from a population of 2,000 accounts receivables when internal control was considered good.  The resulting samples sizes were somewhat evenly distributed from 50 to 600.  When the question was revised to say that internal control was “bad, but previous audits had not revealed material errors,” the resulting sampling sizes varied from 100 to 1,400 accounts.  Another question asked how many inventory items, out of a population of 5,000 line items, should be selected for a test of inventory prices.  Responses were fairly evenly distributed between 25 and 1,250 items.  The fourth question dealt with how many vouchers (out of 1,000) should be examined to provide suitable evidence of adequate internal control.  Nine respondents would have been satisfied with either 25 or 50 vouchers in the sample, while ten auditors wanted to examine all 1,000 vouchers [Tucker, 1994, p. 254].  Such randomness of responses created havoc in the audit budgeting process; if 25 vouchers could be examined in one hour, the budgeted time would vary from one hour to one week, depending upon which in-charge auditor was assigned to the engagement.  A person who interviewed Stringer about his case study noted the following observation.

    The results revealed a very wide distribution of sample sizes selected by these senior auditors in each of the four cases.  When the senior partners of his firm were presented with the results of his experiment, Stringer stated that they were “shocked and dismayed at the disparity that the survey showed” [Tucker and Lordi, 1997, p. 99].

     

    Stringer had been promoting the PPS plan within the firm and his experiment was apparently sufficient to get the firm to adopt the PPS statistical sampling plan, although perhaps the firm would have been willing to accept any movement toward uniformity in selecting samples sizes.

    I can not say that the survey results were the deciding factor in the firm’s eventual adoption of the Plan, but I think it is fair to say that the results had a significant influence on the firm’s views concerning the existing disparity in the extent of testing and the need to improve the situation.  However, there are two important points I always address in any public discussion of the survey results.  First, given the lack of professional guidelines in this area, the results were not surprising.  Second, the auditors surveyed were all employed and trained by the same firm.  If the survey had been distributed to a group of auditors who had been selected randomly from throughout the profession, it is reasonable to assume that the disparity would have been even greater [Tucker, 1994, p. 248].

      

                Stringer was not the sole sampling pioneer at H&S; Oscar Gellein, to whom Stringer reported, was a supporter of both statistical sampling and Stringer’s ideas.  In fact, it was Gellein who was the second chairman of the AICPA’s Committee on Statistical Sampling, following  Trueblood.  Gellein served on the CSS from 1956 through 1961—a total of five years.  Stringer then chaired the committee from 1962 through 1965.  Gellein basically allowed Stringer to spend the majority of his time on statistical sampling, and saw to it that others in the firm did not bother him.  The latter statement is relevant because there were some in the accounting profession who were opposed to the use of statistical sampling.  Many argued that statistical sampling, although producing a better result, was too time consuming to apply in practice and too complex to teach to staff auditors.  Thus, it was not considered by everyone to be an economically viable method.

     

    Kenneth Stringer and Statistical Sampling

                Stringer was born in the small town of Birmingham, Kentucky (population 300), on February 23, 1918, and graduated from what is now Western Kentucky University in 1938 (the institution was known as the Bowling Green College of Commerce during Stringer’s time there; it later merged with Western Kentucky).  He then joined the accounting staff of the Kentucky Public Service Commission.  When H&S opened an office in Louisville in 1939, Stringer was one of the first staff members.  When World War II started, he resigned from the firm to spend two years as a civilian employee of the Ordnance Department accounting staff.  He then joined the military and spent two more years, in uniform, with the Ordnance Department in Cincinnati.  Upon leaving the Army, Stringer worked for six years for a local firm in Danville, KY.  Chafed at the lack of opportunity to grow professionally in a small firm, Stringer decided to rejoin H&S in 1952 in the Cincinnati office.  He reportedly had to take a pay cut when he moved from the local firm in Kentucky to the national firm.  He then transferred to the New York Executive Office in 1957 where he was to work with Weldon Powell, the senior technical manager in the firm, on special assignments.  One such project was to conduct a review of the firm’s approach to the audit process.  One of his first concerns was the methodology used in evaluating a client’s system of internal control, while his second concern was the manner in which items were selected for audit once a determination had been made of the quality of the internal control system. 

                Stringer became a partner in 1959.  Eventually, in 1973, he became partner in charge of Accounting and Auditing Services [“People…, 1977, p. 32].  Thus, by 1973, it was Stringer’s responsibility to establish the firm’s position on issues being considered by the FASB, AICPA committees, and the SEC.  He was also responsible for the firm’s internal policies and procedures and for resolving questions on accounting applications from practice offices.  In the mid 1970s, Stringer represented the firm on the AICPA’s Commission on Auditor’s Responsibilities, also known as the Cohen Commission.  He also served five years on the AICPA Committee on Auditing Procedures.

                In the 1950s, Stringer was a member and chairman of the AICPA’s Statistical Sampling Committee.  Shortly after rejoining the firm in 1952, he found that his interests lay in the practical application of advanced mathematics to accounting and auditing techniques.  He recognized that statistical sampling—establishing the reliability of inferences or conclusions from a population by taking selected samples—was a means of conducting audits more efficiently.  Auditors had been using sampling since World War II, but these early sampling techniques were based on the subjective opinion (judgment) of the person selecting the sample.  Stringer began an intensive investigation of statistical sampling in 1958 and its applicability to accounting and auditing.  His first conclusion was that auditors could not use the statistical sampling methods that had been used in other fields; a new system of statistical sampling had to be developed especially for auditing purposes.  Stringer, working with an assistant in the person of Frederick E. Stephen, a statistics professor at Princeton University, developed over a period of two years what became known as the “H&S Audit Sampling Plan,” otherwise known as a probability-proportional-to-size method.  Firm managing partner John Queenan then appointed a special task force, which included Ralph Johns, Oscar Gellein, and Malcolm Devore, to study the Plan and conduct field tests.  After two years of study, the task force recommended the adoption of the Plan for firm-wide use in 1962.  Stringer asked future managing partner Charles Steel and Jim Kusko to assist during the introduction phase of the Audit Sampling Plan to help local offices implement the program [“People…, 1977, p. 35].  By 1963, the H&S Audit Sampling Plan was fully implemented by the firm and was being shared with accounting students nationwide by speakers from H&S practice offices.

                Stringer returned to the area of statistics in the mid 1960s when he became interested in the possibility of using regression analysis in audit work.  The regression analysis project eventually led to a product called Statistical Technique for Analytical Reviews, or STAR.  With the assistance of Maurice Newman, Jim Kirtland, Jim Kusko, and Denny Fox, Stringer developed a computer program that used regression analysis to improve the audit selection process.  The idea of STAR was that it could be used to conduct audits of exceptional areas.  Stringer explained:

    One of the key questions facing any auditor is determining just what is unusual, which prior to STAR had been done largely on a subjective basis.  What we tried to do was establish an audit interface for the technique of regression analysis. This lets us establish various relationships— such as sales of a client versus expenses, or sales compared with the overall economy—to see if these relationships appear reasonable.  Then the results can be compared with the client's latest figures, and unusual fluctuations can be investigated.  Extensive use of the STAR program has improved our review techniques and enables our people to reduce the amount of detail testing necessary on most audits while maintaining the desired degree of assurance [“People…, 1977, p. 36].

     

    Stringer was the inaugural recipient in 1981 of the American Accounting Association Auditing Section’s Distinguished Service in Auditing Award for his pioneering efforts in auditing research.  In many respects, the existence of a person like Stringer at a firm indicates the willingness of the firm to improve itself.  Unlike most partners, Stringer was not a revenue center; he was a cost center.  His job was to look at the overall auditing process and come up with ways to make the audit a better product.

                As mentioned previously, Stringer was aided by several other firm partners, including Maurice E. Newman.  Newman became a partner in Chicago in 1957 and moved to the Executive Office in 1964, which was about the same time that he began working on a Ph.D. in accounting at New York University.  He graduated from NYU in 1972 following the completion of his doctoral dissertation entitled “Statistical Estimation of Computer-Based Inventories.”  Thus, he was able to combine his love of statistics and his job with a doctoral degree program. 

    Besides working with Stringer on the development of statistical sampling programs for auditing, Newman functioned as a consulting statistician to several of the firm’s larger clients and also as an in-house theoretician to staff auditors [“The Graduate,” 1972, p. 27].  Newman was a prolific author over the years, mostly articles on aspects of management advisory services.  His first publication in the firm’s Selected Papers volumes came in 1956 when he had an article on the uses of computer-generated reports.  The next year, he had two different articles on “machine accounting.”  Newman retired from H&S in 1977 and joined the faculty of the School of Accountancy at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

    A Summary of Sampling and Statistics in Compliance Testing ---
    http://www.willyancey.com/

    Bob Jensen's threads on accounting history ---
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#AccountingHistory

     

     


    "A Brief History of the Corporation: 1600 to 2100," by Venkat, RibbonFarm, June 8, 2011 ---
    http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2011/06/08/a-brief-history-of-the-corporation-1600-to-2100/

    June 23, 2011 reply from Rick Lilly

    Hi Bob,

    I am reading an interesting book titled Life Inc., How Corporatism Conquered the World, and How We Can Take It Back, by Douglas Ruskhoff (ISBN-13: 978-0812978506).  Below is the URL link to the Amazon.com web page.

    Link:  http://www.amazon.com/Life-Inc-Corporatism-Conquered-World/dp/0812978501/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1308848737&sr=1-3

    Rick Lillie, MAS, Ed.D., CPA
    Assistant Professor of Accounting
    Coordinator, Master of Science in Accountancy
    CSUSB, CBPA, Department of Accounting & Finance
    5500 University Parkway, JB-547
    San Bernardino, CA.  92407-2397

     
  • June 23, 2011 reply from Bob Jensen

    A History of Entrereneurship
    "Who Are The Entrepreneurs: The Elite or the Everyday Man? A History of Entrepreneurship," by Heather A. Haveman, Jacob Habinek, and Leo A Googman, UC Berkeley,  2011 ---
    http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/392635v2;jsessionid=00ECE18AD2472F4956AAF2D00CC2132E#page-2
     Who Are The Entrepreneurs: The Elite or the Everyday Man? A History of Entrepreneurship

    June 23, 2011 reply from Jagdish Gangolly

    Bob,

    The years 1770-72 were also infamous for another reason. The East India Company which had earlier used the grant given to it by the Mughal emperor Akbar to the city of Calcutta had established its control over Bengal. Its disastrous tax and other policies, compounded by drought, led to the death by starvation of 10 million people.

    Warren Hastings, who was the Governor General, was later impeached (for corruption) and later acquitted by the British Parliament. He was later made a Privy Councillor, a rather strange honour for one who stood like a Greek hero, counting the British tax revenues (which multiplied), while 10 million human beings died of starvation.

    Venkat's lament about Alexander Fordyce's absconding for half a million pounds debt is a petty matter relative to the death of 10 million people caused by Hastings and his cohorts at the same British East India Company.

    Sen asks a profound rhetorical question why there have been no famines in India since the British left. Democracy does not permit it.

    Edmund Burke's speech in the British Parliament in the impeachment proceedings is, in my opinion, one of the finest pieces of writing in the English language. Here is a snippet:

    _________________________________________________

    My Lords, the East India Company have not arbitrary power to give him; the King has no arbitrary power to give him; your Lordships have not; nor the Commons, nor the whole Legislature. We have no arbitrary power to give, because arbitrary power is a thing which neither any man can hold nor any man can give. No man can lawfully govern himself according to his own will; much less can one person be governed by the will of another. We are all born in subjection -- all born equally, high and low, governors and governed, in subjection to one great, immutable, pre-existent law, prior to all our devices and prior to all our contrivances, paramount to all our ideas and all our sensations, antecedent to our very existence, by which we are knit and connected in the eternal frame of the universe, out of which we cannot stir.

    This great law does not arise from our conventions or compacts; on the contrary, it gives to our conventions and compacts all the force and sanction they can have. It does not arise from our vain institutions. Every good gift is of God; all power is of God; and He who has given the power, and from Whom alone it originates, will never suffer the exercise of it to be practised upon any less solid foundation than the power itself. If, then, all dominion of man over man is the effect of the Divine disposition, it is bound by the eternal laws of Him that give it, with which no human authority can dispense neither he that exercises it, nor even those who are subject to it; and if they were mad enough to make an express compact that should release their magistrate from his duty, and should declare their lives, liberties, and properties dependent upon, not rules and laws, but his mere capricious will, that covenant would be void. The acceptor of it has not his authority increased, but he has his crime doubled. Therefore can it be imagined, if this be true, that He will suffer this great gift of government, the great, the best, that was ever given by God to mankind, to be the plaything and the sport of the feeble will of a man, who, by a blasphemous, absurd, and petulant usurpation, would place his own feeble, comtemptible, ridiculous will in the place of the Divine wisdom and justice?

    The title of conquest makes no difference at all. No conquest can give such a right; for conquest, that is force, cannot convert its own injustice into a just title by which it may rule others at its pleasure. By conquest, which is a more immediate designation of the hand of God, the conqueror succeeds to all the painful duties and subordination to the power of God which belonged to the sovereign whom he has displaced, just as if he had come in by the positive law of some descent or some election. To this at least he is strictly bound: he ought to govern them as he governs his own subjects. But every wise conqueror has gone much further than he was bound to go. It has been his ambition and his policy to reconcile the vanquished to his fortune, to show that they had gained by the change, to convert their momentary suffering into a long benefit, and to draw from the humiliation of his enemies an accession to his own glory. This has been so constant a practice, that it is to repeat the histories of all politic conquerors in all nations and in all times; and I will not so much distrust your Lordships' enlightened and discriminating studies and correct memories as to allude to any one of them. I will only show you that the Court of Directors, under whom he served, has adopted that idea that they constantly inculcated it to him, and to all the servants that they run a parallel between their own and the native government, and, supposing it to be very evil, did not hold it up as an example to be followed, but as an abuse to be corrected that they never made it a question, whether India is to be improved by English law and liberty, or English law and liberty vitiated by Indian corruption. ... ...

    Source: http://www.ourcivilisation.com/smartboard/shop/burkee/extracts/chap12.htm  ________________________________________________________________________

    How profound and timely, in the context of all recent corruption scandals.

    Jagdish -- Jagdish S. Gangolly, (j.gangolly@albany.edu) Vincent O'Leary Professor Emeritus of Informatics, Director, PhD Program in Information Science, Department of Informatics, College of Computing & Information 7A Harriman Campus Road, Suite 220 State University of New York at Albany, Albany, NY 12206. Phone: (518) 956-8251, Fax: (518) 956-8247 URL: http://www.albany.edu/acc/gangolly

     

    History of Fraud in America --- 
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/415wp/AmericanHistoryOfFraud.htm

    "Harvard Grad Starts Math Museum Helped by Google, Hedge Funder," by Patrick Cole, Bloomberg Business Week, November 1, 2011 ---
    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-11-01/harvard-grad-starts-math-museum-helped-by-google-hedge-funder.html

    Bob Jensen's links to mathematics history, tutorials, videos, and free online education and research materials ---
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#050421Mathematics

    Bob Jensen's links to history, tutorials, videos, and free online education and research materials in other disciplines---
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm

    Also see
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI 


    August 3, 2012 message from Jim McKinney

    Hi Bob,

    FYI

    The link for the Academy of Accounting Historians is now aahhq.org (think aaahq but with aah not aaa)

    The material from Rutgers has been removed

    You should probably add a link to the http://www.sechistorical.org/

    Which has many historical documents related to the SEC. The site just added a 10 year retrospective interview with both Sarbanes and Oxley conducted last week (under programs). For those interested, we are doing a presentation on the site at the AAA on Monday at 4:00pm (session 3.05)

    Cheers,

    Jim McKinney, Ph.D., C.P.A.
    Accounting and Information Assurance
    Robert H. Smith School of Business
    4333G Van Munching Hall
    University of Maryland
    College Park, MD 20742-1815

    http://www.rhsmith.umd.edu


    September 29, 2011 message from Barbara Scofield

    One of the 2011 MacArthur Fellows is a historian, one of whose specialties is the history of accounting:
     
    http://www.macfound.org/site/c.lkLXJ8MQKrH/b.7731011/k.1A2A/Jacob_Soll.htm
     
    For an NPR interview see http://whyy.org/cms/radiotimes/2011/09/28/a-conversation-with-2011-macarthur-fellow-jacob-soll/

     
    Barbara W. Scofield, PhD, CPA
    Chair of Graduate Business Studies
    Professor of Accounting
    The University of Texas of the Permian Basin
    4901 E. University Dr.
    Odessa, TX   79762

    Jacob Soll, European Historian --- http://www.macfound.org/site/c.lkLXJ8MQKrH/b.7731011/k.1A2A/Jacob_Soll.htm

    Jacob Soll is a historian whose meticulously researched studies of early modern Europe are shedding new light on the origins of the modern state. Drawing on intellectual, political, cultural, and institutional history, Soll explores the development of political thought and criticism in relation to governance from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries in Western Europe. Soll's first book, Publishing "The Prince" (2005), examines the role of commentaries, editions, and translations of Machiavelli produced by the previously little-studied figure Amelot de La Houssaye (1634-1706), who became the most influential writer on secular politics during the reign of Louis XIV. Grounded in extensive analysis of archival, manuscript, and early printed sources, Soll shows how Amelot and his publishers arranged prefaces, columns, and footnotes in a manner that transformed established works, imbuing books previously considered as supporting royal power with an alternate, even revolutionary, political message. In The Information Master (2009), he investigates the formation of a state-information gathering and classifying network by Louis XIV's chief minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619-1683), revealing that Colbert's passion for information was both a means of control and a medium for his own political advancement: his systematic and encyclopedic information collection served to strengthen and uphold Louis XIV's absolute rule. With these and other projects in progress — including an intellectual and practical history of accounting and its role in governance in the modern world and a study of the composition of library catalogues during the Enlightenment — Soll is opening up new fields of inquiry and elucidating how modern governments came into being.

    Jacob Soll received a B.A. (1991) from the University of Iowa, a D.E.A. (1993) from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, and a Ph.D. (1998) from Magdalene College, Cambridge University. He has been affiliated with Rutgers University, Camden, since 1999, where he is currently a professor in the Department of History.

    Also see
    The information master: Jean-Baptiste Colbert's secret state intelligence system - By Jacob Soll ---
    http://ideas.repec.org/a/bla/ehsrev/v63y2010i1p261-262.html
    Or go directly to
    The Economic History Review
    Volume 63, Issue 1, pages 261–262, February 2010
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-0289.2009.00511_20.x/full

    From Encylopedia Britannica --- http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/124928/Jean-Baptiste-Colbert
    (which in part provides early history of clawback return of gains to government, something the SEC is avoiding in the early 21st Century fraud convictions)
    Also note the stress on manufacturing regulation and quality controls.

    Colbert was born of a merchant family. After holding various administrative posts, his great opportunity came in 1651, when Cardinal Mazarin, the dominant political figure in France, was forced to leave Paris and take refuge in a provincial city—an episode in the Fronde, a period (1648–53) of struggle between the crown and the French parlement. Colbert became Mazarin’s agent in Paris, keeping him abreast of the news and looking after his personal affairs. When Mazarin returned to power, he made Colbert his personal assistant and helped him purchase profitable appointments for both himself and his family. Colbert became wealthy; he also acquired the barony of Seignelay. On his deathbed, Mazarin recommended him to Louis XIV, who soon gave Colbert his confidence. Thenceforth Colbert dedicated his enormous capacity for work to serving the King both in his private affairs and in the general administration of the kingdom.

    The struggle with Fouquet.

    For 25 years Colbert was to be concerned with the economic reconstruction of France. The first necessity was to bring order into the chaotic methods of financial administration that were then under the direction of Nicolas Fouquet, the immensely powerful surintendant des finances. Colbert destroyed Fouquet’s reputation with the King, revealing irregularities in his accounts and denouncing the financial operations by which Fouquet had enriched himself. The latter’s fate was sealed when he made the mistake of receiving the King at his magnificent chateau at Vaux-le-Vicomte; the Lucullan festivities, displaying how much wealth Fouquet had amassed at the expense of the state, infuriated Louis. The King subsequently had him arrested. The criminal proceedings against him lasted three years and excited great public interest. Colbert, without any rightful standing in the case, interfered in the trial and made it his personal affair because he wanted to succeed Fouquet as finance minister. The trial itself was a parody of justice. Fouquet was sent to prison, where he spent the remaining 15 years of his life. The surintendance was replaced by a council of finance, of which Colbert became the dominant member with the title of intendant until, in 1665, he became controller general.

    Financiers and tax farmers had made enormous profits from loansand advances to the state treasury, and Colbert established tribunals to make them give back (clawbacks) some of their gains. This was well received by public opinion, which held the financiers responsible for all difficulties; it also lightened the public debt, which was further reduced by the repudiation of some government bonds and the repayment of others without interest. Private fortunes suffered, but no disturbances ensued, and the King’s credit was restored.

    Financial and economic affairs.

    Colbert’s next efforts were directed to reforming the chaotic system of taxation, a heritage of medieval times. The King derived the major part of his revenue from a tax called the taille, levied in some districts on individuals and in other districts on land and businesses. In some districts the taille was apportioned and collected by royal officials; in others it was voted by the representatives of the province. Many persons, including clergy and nobles, were exempt from it altogether. Colbert undertook to levy the taille on all who were properly liable for it and so initiated a review of titles of nobility in order to expose those who were claiming exemption falsely; he also tried to make the tax less oppressive by a fairer distribution. He reduced the total amount of it but insisted on payment in full over a reasonable period of time. He took care to suppress many abuses of collection (confiscation of defaulters’ property, seizure of peasants’ livestock or bedding, imprisonment of collectors who had not been able to produce the due sums in time). These reforms and the close supervision of the officials concerned brought large sums into the treasury. Other taxes were increased, and the tariff system was revised in 1664 as part of a system of protection. The special dues that existed in the various provinces could not be swept away, but a measure of uniformity was obtained in central France.

    Colbert devoted endless energy to the reorganization of industry and commerce. He believed that in order to increase French power it would be essential to increase France’s share of international trade and in particular to reduce the commercial hegemony of the Dutch. This necessitated not only the production of high-quality goods that could compete with foreign products abroad but also the building up of a merchant fleet to carry them. Colbert encouraged foreign workers to bring their trade skills to France. He gave privileges to a number of private industries and foundedstate manufactures. To guarantee the standard of workmanship, he made regulations for every sort of manufacture and imposed severe punishments (fines and the pillory) for counterfeiting and shortcomings. He encouraged the formation of companies to build ships and tried to obtain monopolies for French commerce abroad through the formation of trading companies. The French East India and West India companies, founded in 1664, were followed by others for trade with the eastern Mediterranean and with northern Europe; but Colbert’s propaganda for them, though cleverly conducted, failed to attract sufficient capital, and their existence was precarious. The protection of national industry demanded tariffs against foreign produce, and other countries replied with tariffs against French goods. This tariff warfare was one of the chief causes of the Dutch War of 1672–78.

    Colbert’s system of control was resented by traders and contractors, who wanted to preserve their freedom of action and to be responsible to themselves alone. Cautious and thrifty people, moreover, still preferred the old outlets for their money (land, annuities, moneylending) to investing in industry. The period, too, was one of generally falling prices throughout the world. Colbert’s success, therefore, fell short of his expectation, but what he did achieve seems all the greater in view of the obstacles in his way: he raised the output of manufactures, expanded trade, set up new permanent industries, and developed communications by road and water across France (Canal du Midi, 1666–81).

    Continued in article


    Free Accounting History Book (U.K, Accountants)
    Capsule Commentary, by Steve Zeff,

    ROBERT H. PARKER, STEPHEN A. ZEFF, and MALCOLM ANDERSON, Major Contributors to the British Accountancy Profession: A Biographical Sourcebook (Edinburgh, Scotland, U.K.: The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, 2012, ISBN 978-1-904574-85-9, pp. 137).

    This is a successor to Robert H. Parker's compilation of obituaries that was published in 1980 by Arno Press. But this edition reproduces obituaries, profiles, and interviews with “major contributors” to the British accounting profession, while the earlier volume was confined to British accountants. This book reports on 37 important figures who died between 1941 and 2010, and the coverage includes professional accountants, academics, accountants in industry, editors of professional and academic journals, librarians, executives in professional institutes, and public servants.

    The authors supply a lengthy introduction in which they comment on the roles played by the major contributors as well as on the changing scene in the British accounting profession during the past three decades. In a supplement, they supply references to other sources of biographical information about the individuals treated in the book.

    As with other research monographs published by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, this volume may be downloaded without charge from the Institute's website (http://icas.org.uk).

    MAAW Accounting History database --- http://maaw.info/

    History of Accountics Science ---
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#AccounticsHistory


    "Mapping Novels with Google Earth," Chronicle of Higher Education, April 6, 2011 ---
    http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/mapping-novels/32528?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

    Jensen Comment
    Various accounting student team projects come to mind using the above technology. One could be an accounting history project in which students map important events in early accounting history, some of which are mentioned at
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#AccountingHistory

    Abacus Techniques by Totton Heffelfinger & Gary Flom.

    Articles, Excerpts and Analysis

    The Abacus vs.The Electric Calculator

    In 1946, a contest held in Tokyo, pitted an abacus against an electric calculator; the abacus won, of course.
     

    Feynman vs. The Abacus

    Richard Feynman battles against the abacus; the result is not surprising (if you know Feynman).
     

    Comparing the Chinese and the Mesoamerican Abacus

    An analysis contributed by David B. Kelley.
     

    The Roman Hand-Abacus

    An analysis contributed by Steve Stephenson.
     

    The Incan Khipu

    String, and Knot, Theory of Inca Writing by John Noble Wilford.
    Talking Knots of the Incas by Viviano and Davide Domenici.
     

    Lost Tribes, Lost Knowledge

    An article about the dangers of forgetting knowledge learned from the past, by Eugene Linden.

    All Things Abacus

    Additional Abacus Resources

    Purchase  or build an abacus  ·  An abacus for your Palm  ·  Books about the abacus  ·  Java applet source code  ·  The Mesoamerican abacus
     

    Resources For Teachers

    The abacus in the classroom  ·  Abacus lesson plan  ·  Math and science resources for teachers
     

    Photos

    High-resolution photos of my abacus collection.

    Early History of Mathematics and Calculating in China
    The best general source for ancient Chinese mathematics is Joseph Needham's Science and Civilisation in China, vol. 3. In this volume you will learn, for example, that the Chinese proved the Pythagorean Theorem at the very latest by the Later Han dynasty (25-221 CE). The proof comes from an ancient text called The Arithmetical Classic of the Gnomon and the Circular Paths of Heaven. The book has been translated by Christopher Cullen in his Astronomy and Mathematics in Ancient China: The Zhou Bi Suan Jing. Needham also discusses the abacus, or suanpan ("calculating plate").
    Steve Field, Professor of Chinese, Trinity University, September 24, 2008
    Jensen Comment
    Later Han Dynasty --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Later_Han_Dynasty_(Five_Dynasties)
    Pythagorean Theorem Theorem --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pythagorean_Theorem
    Pythagorean Theorem (Gougu Theorem in China) History --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pythagorean_Theorem#History
    Suanpan --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suanpan


    A nice timeline of accounting history --- http://www.docstoc.com/docs/2187711/A-HISTORY-OF-ACCOUNTING

    From Texas A&M University
    Accounting History Outline --- http://acct.tamu.edu/giroux/history.html


    A History of Entrereneurship
    "Who Are The Entrepreneurs: The Elite or the Everyday Man? A History of Entrepreneurship," by Heather A. Haveman, Jacob Habinek, and Leo A Googman, UC Berkeley,  2011 ---
    http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/392635v2;jsessionid=00ECE18AD2472F4956AAF2D00CC2132E#page-2
     Who Are The Entrepreneurs: The Elite or the Everyday Man? A History of Entrepreneurship

    We trace the social positions of the men and women who found new enterprises from the earliest years of one industry’s history to a time when the industry was well established. Sociological theory suggests two opposing hypotheses. First, pioneering entrepreneurs are socially prominent individuals from fields adjacent to the new industry and later entrepreneurs are from an increasingly broad swath of society. Second, the earliest entrepreneurs come from the social periphery while later entrepreneurs include more industry insiders and members of the social elite. To test these hypotheses, we study the magazine industry in America over the first 120 years of its history, from 1741 to 1860. We find that magazine publishing was originally restricted to industry insiders, elite professionals, and the highly educated, but by the time the industry became well established, most founders came from outside publishing and more were of middling stature – mostly small-town doctors and clergy without college degrees. We also find that magazines founded by industry insiders remained concentrated in the three biggest cities, while magazines founded by outsiders became geographically dispersed. Finally, we find that entrepreneurship evolved from the pursuit of a lone individual to a more organizationally-sponsored activity; this reflects the modernization of America during this time period. Our analysis demonstrates the importance of grounding studies of entrepreneurship in historical context. Our analysis of this “old” new media industry also offers hints about how the “new” new media industries are likely to evolve.

    Bob Jensen's helpers for small business ---
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/BookBob1.htm#SmallBusiness


    Video
    "Debt: The First 5,000 Years," by Paul Kedrosky , Kedrosky.com, September 10, 2011 --- Click Here
    http://paul.kedrosky.com/archives/2011/09/debt-the-first-5000-years.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+InfectiousGreed+%28Paul+Kedrosky%27s+Infectious+Greed%29

    Jensen Questions
    How did the accounting system account for debt 5,000 years ago?
    Does care and nurturing human children create debt to parents?

    "When Debt Gets in the Way of Growth," Harvard Business Review Blog, September 13, 2011 --- Click Here
    http://blogs.hbr.org/hbr/hbreditors/2011/09/when_debt_gets_in_the_way_of_g.html?referral=00563&cm_mmc=email-_-newsletter-_-daily_alert-_-alert_date&utm_source=newsletter_daily_alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=alert_date

     


    Accounting History (across hundreds of years)
     
    A Change Fifty-Years in the Making, by Jennie Mitchell, Project Accounting WED Interconnect --- http://accounting.smwc.edu/historyacc.htm


    Papyrus --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papyrus
    Early accounting records were written on papyrus

    Serious Accounting Historians May Find Some Things of Use Here
    Advanced Papyrological Information System from Columbia University --- http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/projects/digital/apis/

    Questions
    What was an ancient Greek ploy to combat inflation?
    How do you account for interest paid in cabbages during hyperinflation?

    "The time has come," the Walrus said,
    "To talk of many things:
    Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
    Of cabbages--and kings--
    And why the sea is boiling hot--
    And whether pigs have wings."

    Lewis Carroll, The Walrus and the Carpenter --- http://www.jabberwocky.com/carroll/walrus.html

    "Papyrus Research Provides Insights Into 'Modern Concerns' of Ancient World," Science Daily, October 30, 2010 --- Click Here
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101029092045.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Latest+Science+News%29


    Origins of Double Entry Accounting are Unknown

    • 1300s A.D. crusades opened the Middle East and Mediterranean trade routes
    • Venice and Genoa became venture trading centers for commerce
    • 1296 A.D. Fini Ledgers in Florence
    • 1340 A.D. City of Massri Treasurers Accounts are in Double Entry form.
    • 1458 A.D.Benedikt Kotruljevic (Croatian) (Dubrovnik,1416-L’Aquila,1469) (His Italian name was Benedetto Cotrugli Raguseo), wrote The Book on the Art of Trading which is now acknowledged to be the first person to write a book describing double-entry techniques (although the origins of double entry bookkeeping in practice are unknown)
    • 1494 Luca Pacioli's Summa de Arithmetica Geometria Proportionalita (A Review of Arithmetic, Geometry and Proportions) which is the best known early book on double entry bookkeeping in algebraic form. 

    Recall that double entry bookkeeping supposedly evolved in Italy long before it was put into algebraic form in the book Summa by Luca Pacioli  and into an earlier book by Benedikt Kotruljevic.

    "A Brief History of Double Entry Book-keeping (10 Episodes) ," BBC Radio ---
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00r401p
    Thanks to Len Steenkamp for the heads up

    Jolyon Jenkins investigates how accountants shaped the modern world. They sit in boardrooms, audit schools, make government policy and pull the plug on failing companies. And most of us have our performance measured. The history of accounting and book-keeping is largely the history of civilisation.

    Jolyon asks how this came about and traces the religious roots of some accounting practices.

    Eventually, educators might be able to get copies of these audio files.

     

    October 3, 2009 message from Rick Dull

    Benedikt Kotruljevic (Croatian) (Dubrovnik,1416-L’Aquila,1469) (His Italian name was Benedetto Cotrugli Raguseo), who in 1458, wrote "The Book on the Art of Trading" which is now acknowledged to be the first person to write a book describing double-entry techniques? See the American Mathematical Society’s web-site: http://www.ams.org/featurecolumn/archive/book1.html .

    Rick Dull


    And so on --- I think you get the idea.

    One truly valuable research for an accounting history mapping project is the free Accounting Historians Journal archive (although not all of the publications are free online but should be free to students using the hard copy stacks in campus libraries) ---
    http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/general_library/dac/files/ahj.html

    Bob Jensen's threads on accounting history ---
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#AccountingHistory 


  • Title:  Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance [Hardcover]
    Author:  Jane Gleeson-White

  • ISBN-10: 0393088960
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393088960
  • Hi Tom,

    Although the focus of Jane's book is apparently on the merchants of Venice, I hope the author acknowledges that double-entry booking has a long and earlier history outside of Venice ---
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#AccountingHistory

    Even Pacioli was not the first to write about double-entry bookkeeping.

    October 3, 2009 message from Rick Dull

    Benedikt Kotruljevic (Croatian) (Dubrovnik,1416-L’Aquila,1469) (His Italian name was Benedetto Cotrugli Raguseo), who in 1458, wrote "The Book on the Art of Trading" which is now acknowledged to be the first person to write a book describing double-entry techniques? See the American Mathematical Society’s web-site: http://www.ams.org/featurecolumn/archive/book1.html .

    Rick Dull
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#AccountingHistory

     

    December 16, 2005  message from Robert B Walker [walkerrb@ACTRIX.CO.NZ]

    Luca Pacioli did not invent double entry book-keeping. The rudiments of double entry book-keeping (DEBK) can be found in Muslim government administration in the 10th Century. (See Book-keeping and Accounting Systems in a tenth Century Muslim Administrative Office by Hamid, Craig & Clark in Accounting, Business & Financial History Vol 3 No 5 1995).

    As I understand it Pacioli saw the technique being used by Arab traders and adapted and codified the technique allowing it to spread to Northern Europe where it became a* key component in Western economic dominance in the last 500 years.

    This is logical if you think about it. DEBK is the greatest expression of applied algebra – that Arab word betraying the origin of the particular mathematical technique in which the world’s duality is reflected.

    RW

    * but not the key component as Werner Sombart would have it. But then his reason for wanting that to be was his extreme anti-semitism … but that is another story.

     

    You might begin with the reviews of Jane's book to date on Amazon --- Click Here
    http://www.amazon.com/Double-Entry-Merchants-Created-Finance/product-reviews/0393088960/ref=cm_cr_dp_see_all_btm?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending

     

    The one highly negative review has nothing to do with the contents of the book. The other reviews tend to be more four-star than five-star, but that's not bad at all until you dig into some of the negatives.

     

    Malcomb Cameron wrote the following (especially note his final paragraph):

    Double Entry
    How the merchants of Venice shaped the modern world - and how their invention could make or break the planet
    by Jane Gleeson - White

    This book is a gem! Dusty old "double entry accounting" is threaded together with stories of Renaissance Venice, its merchants and scholarly discoveries, development of capitalism, national GDP, and accounting for environmental damage.

    After a shaky start resurrecting Senator Robert Kennedy, the scene moves on cue to medieval Pisa, Genoa, Florence and Venice. There the Franciscan monk Luca Pacioli, mathematician, chess-player, and encylopedist inadvertently immortalized himself as the "father" of double-entry bookkeeping.

    Luca Pacioli made significant mathematical discoveries, taught Leonardo da Vinci, and in particular wrote a mathematical encyclopedia in 1494 allocating 27 pages to a bookkeeping treatise that bestowed him glory to this day. This was only a small part of Pacioli's work in "Summa de Arithmetica, geometria, proportione et proportionalità" or "Everything about Arithmetic, Geometry, Proportion, and Proportionality" plus other works including an unpublished treatise on chess which was rediscovered in 2006.

    A brilliant intertwined history of merchants and mathematics is presented from Mesopotamian tablets and ancient Greek mathematics through to the Hindu-Arabic numerals and the new style bookkeeping. The dark arts of Egyptian priests and the commercial activities of early merchants triggered Augustine's warning that "The good Christian should beware of mathematics ... a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and confine man in the bonds of Hell". The author successfully combines "the calculations used by merchants ... and the numbers used by philosophers to express the secret harmonies of the universe." This is a neat idea particularly for those new to the history of mathematics or finance.

    The focus then turns to bookkeeping, bills of exchange, limited liability, cost accounting, National Accounts, GDP, etc. Pacioli tells us that "If you are in business and do not know all about it, your money will go like flies - That is, you will lose it"; " ... the merchant is like a rooster ... the most alert and ... keeps his night vigils and never rests". Just like modern continuous disclosure Pacioli advises "Frequent accounting makes for long friendship" warning that "if you are not a good bookkeeper ... you will go on groping like a blind man and meet great losses".

    Finally, the author goes `over the top' quoting claims not only that the concept of capitalism originated with double entry bookkeeping but the entire modern scientific capitalistic world as well. The book ends by considering environmental concerns excluded from company accounts longing for a sort of Accounting of Everything. Accounting can "make or break the planet ... there may be one last hope for life on earth: accountants". There are limits, if it is that bad, let us all just "drink and be merry ...".

    Malcolm Cameron
    13 May 2012

     

    Jensen Comment
    Of course Jane Gleeson-White is not the first historian to claim the importance of doubleentry accounting to capitalism. I've always thought the earlier claims were "over the top."

     

    The following is a controversial quotation from http://www.cbs.dk/staff/hkacc/BOOK-ART.doc 

    "The power of double-entry bookkeeping has been praised by many notable authors throughout history. In Wilhelm Meister, Goethe states, "What advantage does he derive from the system of bookkeeping by double-entry! It is among the finest inventions of the human mind"... Werner Sombart, a German economic historian, says, "... double-entry bookkeeping is borne of the same spirit as the system of Galileo and Newton" and "Capitalism without double-entry bookkeeping is simply inconceivable. They hold together as form and matter. And one may indeed doubt whether capitalism has procured in double-entry bookkeeping a tool which activates its forces, or whether double-entry bookkeeping has first given rise to capitalism out of its own (rational and systematic) spirit".

    If, for a moment, one considers the credibility crisis of practical accounting, it would be quite impossible to dismiss the following paradox: the conflict between the enthusiastic praise of the system's strength on the one hand, and on the other, the many financial failures in the real world. How can such a powerful system, even when applied meticulously, still result in disasters? Although it is hardly necessary to argue more in favour of double-entry book-keeping, I still want to underline the two qualities of the system which I find are valid explanations of the system's very important and world-wide role in financial development for five centuries.

    The Logic of Double-Entry Bookkeeping, by Henning Kirkegaard
    Department of Financial & Management Accounting 
    Copenhagen Business School 
    Howitzvej 60

     

    Along this same double-entry thread I might mention my mentor at Stanford.
    Nobody I know holds the mathematical wonderment of double-entry and historical cost accounting more in awe than Yuji Ijiri.  For example, see Theory of Accounting Measurement, by Yuji Ijiri (Sarasota:  American Accounting Association Studies in Accounting Research No. 10, 1975).  

     

    Dr. Ijirii also extended the concept to triple-entry bookkeeping in (Sarasota:  Triple-Entry Bookkeeping and Income Momentum
    American Accounting Association Studies in Accounting Research No. 18, 1982).
    http://accounting.rutgers.edu/raw/aaa/market/studar.htm
    tm 

     

    Also see the following:

     

    Brush up your Shakespeare:  Medieval manuscripts to hit Internet
    Stanford University Libraries, the University of Cambridge and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, will make hundreds of medieval manuscripts, dating from the sixth through the 16th centuries, accessible on the Internet.
    "Medieval manuscripts to hit Internet," Stanford Report, July 13, 2005 ---
    http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2005/july13/parker-071305.html

     

    A summary of the medieval times and literature is available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval

    Respectfully,
    Bob Jensen

     

    November 19, 2012 message from Jim McKinney

    A  friend of mine, Alan Sangster, who is one of the top experts in the writings of Pacioli having published numerous articles on the subject and having done extensive research in Italy, has published an eleven page review in the August 2012 edition of  Accounting History one of the three top academic English language accounting history journals. Here are some parts from the beginning and conclusion. In addition, I understand Accounting Review to be preparing a review of the book as well.

     

    J Gleeson-White
    Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Shaped the Modern World and How their Invention could Make or Break the
    Planet, Allen & Unwin: Sydney, 2011, 294 + viii pp.: ISBN: 9781741757552
    Reviewed by: Alan Sangster, Griffith University, Australia
    DOI: 10.117/1032373212450161

    This is a very interesting and easy to read book from which I gained a great deal of pleasure. The author should be commended on her courage and her success in absorbing and then retelling the history of a subject that those more equipped to do so have generally not done for the simple reason that the sum is greater than the parts – finding evidence is one thing, putting it all together in a coherent and internally consistent manner, is another.

    The Contents List is a challenging mixture of accounting history, economic history, and accounting - the art, the science, and the profession. The opening focus on the inability of accounting, as we know it, to present in financial statements items other than those that can be expressed in monetary terms is both surprising and refreshing. The call made later in the book for a reinvention or redesign of an accounting which embraces such factors as the impact upon the environment is well written and argued, and extremely timely. Professor Rob Gray’s “elephant in the room” (2010, 2013) has rarely had such an outing in public, even if his writings and those of many others on the subject are strangely absent from this book.

    It is a difficult enough task to understand sufficiently well the treatise on bookkeeping contained in Luca Pacioli’s Summa Arithmetica of 1494, without attempting to also understand the activities and processes of accounting in the previous 200 and subsequent 500+ years – a modernised translation of the treatise was sufficient to warrant a PhD (Cripps, 1995). This is not a minor task that JaneGleeson-White set herself. In its fullness, it is nothing less than the work of an entire lifetime, and Jane Gleeson-White did it all in three years. Could this be possible? Today, with the freedom of the “library on your desktop” (Sangster, 1995: 3) finally realised, possibly, but it is still an enormous task requiring the reading of hundreds of articles, books, and websites. This was a challenge indeed and Jane Gleeson-White emerges from her travail with honour and achievement. Yet, speed is not the mother of all invention. Rather, it is the inevitable creator of shortcuts and assumptions arising from limited time to follow things through that are destined to leave questions only partially answered. Nevertheless, in this case, the flaws are not sufficient to devalue the whole. This is a very well-constructed book.

    Nevertheless, despite its flaws, the book is the first primer to accounting history and its relevance to the modern world that I have ever seen. It is suitable for use as a core text for a one semester or year-long university module/course on accounting history. I am currently teaching a postgraduate class in accounting history and would happily use this book as the core student background reading text on which all the articles I currently use are hung. In this sense, the flaws in this book are its strengths, offering opportunities for debate and investigation while maintaining an impressive aura of certainty for anyone not informed enough to spot the problems. For the benefit of those interested in identifying the errors and misconceptions I have found, these are presented in an Appendix to this review, along with a bibliography of the sources which I have used both here and in the Appendix.

    Double Entry is a book to be savoured, but handled with care. The messages it contains are clear and unambiguous and all accountants, practising or not, ought to note the tone of invocation for change. Jane Gleeson-White is to be congratulated for presenting us with clarity of appreciation of the issues facing mankind that accounting could do something about. Whether it has that much to do with double entry is debatable, but double entry and the mystique surrounding the technique certainly encourages the silo mentality of accountants we have witnessed through time, something the author has identified and rightly criticised. I hope this book makes a difference and that Jane Gleeson-White may be encouraged to go further in developing her understanding of accounting and accountants. Voices such as hers are desperately needed if we are to break the mould and create accounting that considers the world we live in as much as the enterprise for which it is being applied. The history of double entry bookkeeping tells us from where our present-day accounting practices came. Now, it is time to let the stasis of 700 years of practice evolve into something truly useful, something suited to the knowledge age in which we now live.

     

    Jim McKinney, Ph.D., C.P.A.
    Accounting and Information Assurance
    Robert H. Smith School of Business
    4333G Van Munching Hall
    University of Maryland
    College Park, MD 20742-1815

    http://www.rhsmith.umd.edu

     


    "Making Up Users,"  Joni J. Young, Accounting, Organizations and Accounting, Vol. 31 (2006) 579–600 ---
    http://www.elsevierscitech.com/lmfile/otherformat/1359_Joni_Young.pdf

    Abstract
    Within recent years, financial statement users have been accorded great significance by accounting standard-setters. In the United States, the conceptual framework maintains that a primary purpose of financial statements is to provide information useful to investors and creditors in making their economic decisions. Contemporary accounting textbooks unproblematically posit this purpose for accounting. Yet, this emphasis is quite recent and occurred despite limited knowledge about the information needs and decision processes of actual users of financial statements. This paper unpacks the taken-for-grantedness of the primacy of financial statement users in standard-setting and considers their use as a category to justify and denigrate particular accounting disclosures and practices. It traces how particular ideas about financial statement users and their connection to accounting standard setting have been constructed in various documents and reports including the conceptual framework and accounting standards.  2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Joni's paper won the American Accounting Association's Notable Contribution to the Accounting Literature Award for 2011 ---
    http://aaahq.org/awards/awrd3win.htm

    Jensen Comment
    Accounting standard setters give primacy to providing information to investors but really don't know a whole lot about how investors and analysts use information. My long time complaint is that the both the IASB and FASB Conceptual Frameworks are stronger for balance sheet items vis-a-vis income statements.


    The primary indices that investors and analysts track are earnings and earnings-based indices such as P/E ratios. And the weakest part of both the IASB and FASB Conceptual Frameworks is the concept of earnings, including the inability to distinguish realized/realizable earnings from unrealized earnings such as the way unrealized changes if fair value of financial instruments (especially securities ultimately held to maturity) are mixed with earned profits from sales.


    For example, in May 2012 JP Morgan is being lambasted in Congress and the media for $2-$3 billion so-called "losses" on credit derivatives. And some unrealized credit derivative losses will be booked and aggregated with realized/earned income of the bank.


    But how much of those $2-$3 billion so-booked losses will ultimately be realized?
    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2012/05/understanding-j-p-morgans-loss-and-why-more-might-be-coming/
     

  • May 17, 2012 message from Bob Jensen
  • Hi Marc,

    One of the imperfect but often effective way that standard setters learn about investors, preparers, academics, and auditors is in responses to exposure drafts. I don't think Joni Young gives enough credit to the important role feedback on exposure drafts plays in the standard setting process.


    As a rule, standards are not just thrust into the world as surprises like newborn babies. In the gestation time period, between conception and birth, a standard is open for debate by virtually all jurisdictions that will be affected by the proposed new accounting standard. The most important happenings in this process are the exposure drafts (often a succession of such drafts) where standard setters invite and publish serious comments.


    And the public's comments often lead to dramatic changes between initial drafts and final standards, as was definitely the case between ED 162-A and FAS 133 --- a difference between night and day.


    Standard setters are generally disappointed by the quantity and quality of comments by professors to exposure drafts. Partly as a result of this, the American Accounting Association annually creates a committee of leading financial accounting professors to formally respond to exposure drafts. These responses are generally published in Accounting Horizons. Such responses can be great for student learning, and accounting professors are probably remiss in not assigning these AH articles in their syllabi.


    A great example at the moment are the many responses to four differing exposure drafts of the Joint Committee on a new leasing standard.


    Of course the responses to exposure drafts are imperfect ways of studying the various jurisdictions impacted by accounting standards. It would be better in many instances to scientifically study these jurisdictions in the context of the proposed standard. But this is generally not practical or cost effective. Accountics science has many imperfections and limitations. For example, studying students as surrogates for a real-world jurisdiction is not exactly an exciting way to learn about real-world decision makers.


    Capital markets events researchers seldom study standards events before the standards are implemented. They study the eventual event of a new standard's implementation, but the event of an exposure draft is much harder to study since an exposure draft does not usually impact a 10-K and is often greatly modified before becoming a finalized standard.


    Thus I think Joni Young overstates her case about standard setters being ignorant about investors. She has many good points, but I don't think members of the IASB and FASB are as ignorant about investors as she would like us to believe.


    Respectfully,
    Bob Jensen

     


     

    Thank you James Martin for the the tremendous MAAW Accounting History database --- http://maaw.info/
     

    This morning on October 18, 2009 I had occasion to search for some Bill Paton's replacement cost history, so I went to MAAW at http://maaw.info/
    I then entered the word Paton in the Google search box and this led me to some interesting categories, including the Replacement Cost Accounting Bibliography --- http://www.maaw.info/ReplacementCostArticles.htm
    That only yielded two of Paton's articles on replacement cost, but it did provide a ton of other references including many that cite Bill Paton.

    In particular I wandered to a well-known and long forgotten article by Steve Zeff:
    "Replacement Cost:  Member of the Family, Welcome Guest, or Intruder," by Stephen A. Zeff, The Accounting Review, October 1962. Steve was an Assistant Professor of Accounting at Tulane at the time he wrote this paper.

    • Replacement Cost: Member of the Family, Welcome Guest, or Intruder?
    • Stephen A. Zeff
    • The Accounting Review, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Oct., 1962), pp. 611-625
      (article consists of 15 pages)
    • Published by: American Accounting Association
    • Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/242348

    My Emeritus status at Trinity University allows me free access to Trinity's fabulous subscriptions to electronic library databases, including Jstor. I next proceeded online to Jstor and found the following articles by Steve Zeff

     

    I then clicked on Item 8 above and downloaded the Zeff article I was most interested in at the moment.

    I also went back to the Jstor search page and did a search for "William A. Paton" and got a listing of hits of some of Bill's papers and papers that cite Bill Paton. One that particularly intrigues me is the following"
    "Statement by William A. Paton," by William A. Paton, The Accounting Review, October 1980, pp. 629-630.

    Bill was 91 years old when he wrote the above short piece. What intrigues me is how he reflects on his famous 1940 monograph written with A.C. Littleton in 1940 that he claims to have not read once again for 35 years. It's rumored that he "recanted" his authorship of that most famous monograph, but that could not be further from the truth. He feels that he and "A.C." "did a creditable job" and then proceeds to point out where he feels, after 40 years, that this most famous monograph had some flaws.

    I will eventually discuss these flaws in another message to the AECM after I've had time for study on this matter.
    The purpose of this message is to point out how much fun historical research can be in what becomes, if you keep going, a process of serendipity that reveals what a huge amount we think of as current thinking was thought of decades ago by some very smart writers.


    From the Harvard Business School
    Buy Now, Pay Later: A History of Personal Credit
    --- http://www.library.hbs.edu/hc/credit/

    Jensen Comment
    When teaching about accounting for liabilities and credit cards, it might be interesting to introduce students to the history of liabilities ---
    Buy Now, Pay Later: A History of Personal Credit --- http://www.library.hbs.edu/hc/credit/

    Bob Jensen's threads on accounting history ---
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#AccountingHistory


    Historical Myth a Month (with a Nevada focus) ---
    http://nsla.nevadaculture.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=683&Itemid=418

    The above site has nothing to do with accounting, but it struck me as an interesting way to introduce accounting history into most any accounting course. For assignments (maybe for each class) students could be asked to verify accounting history myths.

    Bob Jensen's threads on accounting history ---
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#AccountingHistory

    Bob Jensen's threads on Tools and Tricks of the Trade ---
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm


    Early accounting was a knotty issue
    South American Indian culture apparently used layers of knotted strings as a complicated ledger.

    Two Harvard University researchers believe they have uncovered the meaning of a group of Incan khipus, cryptic assemblages of string and knots that were used by the South American civilization for record-keeping and perhaps even as a written language. Researchers have long known that some knot patterns represented a specific number. Archeologist Gary Urton and mathematician Carrie Brezine report today in the journal Science that computer analysis of 21 khipus showed how individual strings were combined into multilayered collections that were used as a kind of ledger.
    Thomas H. Maugh, "Researchers Think They've Got the Incas' Numbers," Los Angeles Times, August 12, 2005 ---
    http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-sci-khipu12aug12,1,6589325.story?coll=la-news-science&ctrack=1&cset=true
    Also note http://snipurl.com/incaknots   [64_233_169_104

    Jensen Comment:  I'm told that accounting tallies in Africa and other parts of the world preceded written language.  However, tallies alone did not permit aggregations such as accounting for such things as three goats plus sixty apples.   Modern accounting awaited a combination of the Arabic numbering ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabic_numbers ) and a common valuation scheme for valuing heterogeneous items (e.g., gold equivalents or currency units) such that the values of goats and apples could be aggregated.  It is intriguing that Inca knot patterns were something more than simple tallies since patterns could depict different numbers and aggregations could possibly be achieved with "multilayered collections."


    "Effective” Genealogical History: Possibilities for Critical Accounting History Research," by Norman B. Macintoch, Accounting Historians Journal, June 2009 ---
    http://umiss.lib.olemiss.edu:82/articles/1038280.7113/1.PDF

    Abstract: This essay, following up on the recent Sy and Tinker [2005] and Tyson and Oldroyd [2007] debate, argues that accounting history research needs to present critiques of the present state of accounting’s authoritative concepts and principles, theory, and present-day practices. It proposes that accounting history research could benefit by adopting a genealogical, “effective” history approach. It outlines four fundamental strengths of traditional history – investigate only the real with facts; the past is a permanent dimension of the present; history has much to say about the present; and the past, present, and future constitute a seamless continuum. It identifies Nietzsche’s major concerns with traditional history, contrasts it with his genealogical approach, and reviews Foucault’s [1977] follow up to Nietzsche’s approach. Two examples of genealogical historiography are presented – Williams’ [1994] exposition of the major shift in British discourse regarding slavery and Macintosh et al.’s [2000] genealogy of the accounting sign of income from feudal times to the present. The paper critiques some of the early Foucauldian-based accounting research, as well as some more recent studies from this perspective. It concludes that adopting a genealogical historical approach would enable accounting history research to become effective history by presenting critiques of accounting’s present state.

    What Went Wrong With Accountics Research? ---
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#WhatWentWrong


    You may want to liven up your accounting, math or history courses by illustrating the art and science of the Abacus Calculator

    Abacus: The Art of Calculating with Beads --- http://www.ee.ryerson.ca/~elf/abacus/index.html

    Contents

    Introduction

    Construction  ·  Basics  ·  Java Applet  ·  Technique  ·  The Abacus Today


    History

    Timeline  ·  Salamis Tablet  ·  Counting Board  ·  Roman Hand Abacus  ·  Suan Pan  ·  Soroban  ·  Schoty  ·  Nepohualtzitzin  ·  Khipu  ·  Lee Abacus
     

    Interactive Abacus Tutor

    Sarat Chandran and David A. Bagley's incredible Java abacus with a built-in tutor for counting, addition and subtraction.

    Calculations
    Addition  ·  Subtraction  ·  Multiplication & Division  ·  Square Roots  ·  Cube Roots

    The Lee Abacus

    The manual for the Lee Abacus, c. 1958 is available as Text  ·  Images
     

    The Abacus as Art

    Michael Mode builds exotic abaci as art objects.
     

    Abacus: Mystery of the Bead

    Abacus Techniques by Totton Heffelfinger & Gary Flom.

    Articles, Excerpts and Analysis

    The Abacus vs.The Electric Calculator

    In 1946, a contest held in Tokyo, pitted an abacus against an electric calculator; the abacus won, of course.
     

    Feynman vs. The Abacus

    Richard Feynman battles against the abacus; the result is not surprising (if you know Feynman).
     

    Comparing the Chinese and the Mesoamerican Abacus

    An analysis contributed by David B. Kelley.
     

    The Roman Hand-Abacus

    An analysis contributed by Steve Stephenson.
     

    The Incan Khipu

    String, and Knot, Theory of Inca Writing by John Noble Wilford.
    Talking Knots of the Incas by Viviano and Davide Domenici.
     

    Lost Tribes, Lost Knowledge

    An article about the dangers of forgetting knowledge learned from the past, by Eugene Linden.

    All Things Abacus

    Additional Abacus Resources

    Purchase  or build an abacus  ·  An abacus for your Palm  ·  Books about the abacus  ·  Java applet source code  ·  The Mesoamerican abacus
     

    Resources For Teachers

    The abacus in the classroom  ·  Abacus lesson plan  ·  Math and science resources for teachers
     

    Photos

    High-resolution photos of my abacus collection.

    Early History of Mathematics and Calculating in China
    The best general source for ancient Chinese mathematics is Joseph Needham's Science and Civilisation in China, vol. 3. In this volume you will learn, for example, that the Chinese proved the Pythagorean Theorem at the very latest by the Later Han dynasty (25-221 CE). The proof comes from an ancient text called The Arithmetical Classic of the Gnomon and the Circular Paths of Heaven. The book has been translated by Christopher Cullen in his Astronomy and Mathematics in Ancient China: The Zhou Bi Suan Jing. Needham also discusses the abacus, or suanpan ("calculating plate").
    Steve Field, Professor of Chinese, Trinity University, September 24, 2008
    Jensen Comment
    Later Han Dynasty --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Later_Han_Dynasty_(Five_Dynasties)
    Pythagorean Theorem Theorem --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pythagorean_Theorem
    Pythagorean Theorem (Gougu Theorem in China) History --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pythagorean_Theorem#History
    Suanpan --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suanpan
    This makes me respect Wikipedia even more!


    In her notes compiled in 1979, Professor Linda Plunkett of the College of Charleston S.C., calls accounting the "oldest profession"; in fact, since prehistoric times families had to account for food and clothing to face the cold seasons. Later, as man began to trade, we established the concept of value and developed a monetary system. Evidence of accounting records can be found in the Babylonian Empire (4500 B.C.), in pharaohs' Egypt and in the Code of Hammurabi (2250 B.C.). Eventually, with the advent of taxation, record keeping became a necessity for governments to sustain social orders.
    James deSantis, A BRIEF HISTORY OF ACCOUNTING: FROM PREHISTORY TO THE INFORMATION AGE --- http://www.ftlcomm.com/ensign/historyAcc/ResearchPaperFin.htm 


    A nice timeline of accounting history --- http://www.docstoc.com/docs/2187711/A-HISTORY-OF-ACCOUNTING

    From Texas A&M University
    Accounting History Outline --- http://acct.tamu.edu/giroux/history.html


    Accounting History (across hundreds of years)
     
    A Change Fifty-Years in the Making, by Jennie Mitchell, Project Accounting WED Interconnect --- http://accounting.smwc.edu/historyacc.htm