Abraham Briloff passed away recently at the age of 96. Briloff will be remembered for his tart, but penetratingly accurate analysis of the garbage that sometimes masquerades as financial statements. Those who love accounting and value truth in corporate annual reports will greatly miss him.

Briloff wrote most of his essays for Barron’s. In these papers, he would show how a particular company misused accounting, often within the tangled web of ambiguities we call generally acceptable accounting principles. Because the ultimate problem was GAAP, he sometimes would refer to them as cleverly rigged accounting ploys, which induces an apt acronym. He also criticized the public auditors for allowing the misapplication of accounting principles and for protecting the firm, the purported client, instead of defending the investment public, the real client.

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