In the early 1960s consumer advocate Ralph Nader wrote abook titled "Unsafe at Any Speed," which chronicled the frighteningresults of the Chevrolet Corvair in road accidents.
Nader's disturbing tome no doubt contributed to GeneralMotors eventually discontinuing the rear-engine vehicle (although I remain ahuge fan of the 1965 convertible).Now that the government essentially owns General Motors it wouldunderscore the fact that I'm highly skeptical of their ability to steer thatcompany into a profitable future - at any speed.
In that same vein, I'm also two or more area codes awayfrom anything resembling a comfort zone regarding a recent proposal fromColorado lawmaker Ed Perlmutter, who has tossed out the idea of creating aFederal Accounting Oversight Board, which would displace the SEC as overseer tothe Financial Accounting Standards Board.
Perlmutter's measure would amend the 2009 FinancialStability Improvement Act, and create the new board as part of a largersystemic risk regulator.
It would in essence, allow this new agency to shoulderthe responsibility for overseeing accounting standards.
That should set off some red flags there. Actually itshould set off the United Nations in terms of the number of flags.
Aside from the recent health care bill that squeakedthrough the House that has more hidden costs and problems than a used caradvertised as being driven only on Sundays, the thought of governmentpoliticizing, oops, I meant, supervising accounting and reporting standardsshould give anyone more than cause for concern.
Apparently I'm not alone.
Both the American Institute of CPAs and FinancialExecutives International quickly dashed off missives to House FinancialServices Committee Chair Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., expressing theirrespective group's objections to displacing the SEC with a new entity.
The institute maintained that the SEC and FASB"operate in harmony," while those being considered to overseesystemic risk (i.e., the Federal Reserve) don't share the same purpose withregard to financial reporting and thus impair the quality of financialreporting for investors.
While the SEC certainly has taken its lumps over the pastseveral years - some well deserved, some overly critical - one only needhearken back to the pressure exerted by lawmakers on FASB with regard to fairvalue to realize the ramifications of what could happen under the purview of anew government agency.
A new Federal Accounting Board is an idea that should berelegated to the circular file - and at high speed.
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