The FASB, the independent corporate accounting standards board, is under attack. Believe this or not, financial lobbyists are trying to get it's independence dissolved so they can cook the books whenever they damn feel like it.
This article, Civil War In Corporate America: Banks Battling The Chamber On Accounting Rules outlines these latest attempts.
Amid the ongoing financial regulation overhaul, the banking industry is hoping to pull off a quiet power grab that has eluded its grasp since the Great Depression, by stripping the independence of the board that sets financial accounting standards.
The move could effectively let banks set their own accounting standards in rough economic times.
So, which Congress
corporate puppet representative is helping the banks? Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), yes, a "D", has introduced 0/congress/bills/111/hr1349">H.R. 1349, Federal Accounting Oversight Board Act of 2009, which effectively disbands the Financial Accounting Standards Board.
To establish the Federal Accounting Oversight Board to approve and oversee accounting principles and standards for the purposes of the Federal financial regulatory agencies, and for other purposes.
Grim reports this amendment is so bad, even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, our most notorious bad for America multinational corporate lobbyist group, is against these attempts by the banking lobby.
Some sanity from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce? Someone making up their own accounting rules might be a little bit of a problem? Enron didn't seem to think so. Either did Worldcom.
The art of a politician must be to say the most absurd things with a straight face. This response from Perlmutter is beyond laughable, it's saying when business are about to collapse they must be allowed to cook the books to hide that fact!
Perlmutter told the Huffington Post that under his proposal, the FASB "would stay with the SEC, but in instances where an accounting procedure or a way it's being implemented poses a threat to the financial system by exaggerating what's going on -- is pro-cyclical to a point that it, too, threatens the system -- then the financial regulator, the systemic regulator, could look in to it.
"For virtually every situation you can think of, there's no change, but [there would be a change] in the event that there's a threat to the system, like the dysfunctional market we had from October through March, and that the accounting procedures just didn't fit for a system where there was no market," Perlmutter said.
Now check out what the American Bankers Association says in testimony.
"A Systemic Risk Oversight Council could not possibly do its job if does not have oversight authority over accounting rulemaking," top bank lobbyist Ed Yingling testified before the committee on October 29. "This is a major deficiency in the draft legislation. Accounting policies are increasingly and profoundly influencing financial policy and the basic structure of our financial system. Thus, accounting standards must now be part of any systemic risk calculation. To do anything less creates the potential to undermine any action taken to address a systemic risk. The Financial Accounting Standards Board should continue to function as it does today, but it should no longer report only to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC's view is simply too narrow. Accounting policies contributed to the crisis, as has now been well documented, and yet the SEC is not charged with considering systemic and structural effects."
Is this absurd? The idea of systemic risk oversight is to not allow companies to become so large and interconnected they can bring down the entire global economy, not assist them in cooking the books when it happens.
What this is about is mark-to-market accounting. Remember that? The FASB is independent. They set accounting standards. Yet they were pressured to change the rules when assets on the books blew up due to the housing bubble collapse. Remember worthless toxic assets? How financial institutions didn't want to recognize so many derivatives on the books were caca?
Meanwhile Senator Bernie Sanders states the obvious, Too Big to Fail - Too Big to Exist.