Sunday, February 25, 2007

Esse est percipi

McKinsey Strategy has a good piece on why accounting shouldn't drive strategy, exemplified with pensions accounting. While I fully agree with that statement, I think it's quite idealistic to the point of being utopian. It would be utopian to expect of preparers that they wouldn't use the possibilities they have to look as good as they possibly can. A mild form of such behaviour would be just presentational, i.e. immaterial, but as we know, accounting often drives transactions without any real economic motivation.

The only way out of this quandary is to devise financial reporting standards that make sense economically, i.e. under which you can only look good if you behave rationally economically. This is the purpose of the CFA Institute's Comprehensive Business Reporting Model with its thrust for full fair value accounting. That's when accounting comes full circle with enlightenment philosopher George Berkeley: Being is perceiving and being perceived.

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