We feel a little sheepish coming back so soon to accounting for pensions and other post-retirement benefits, but we keep finding new reasons to condemn SFAS 87 and 106.One recent spur is the confusion surrounding the bankruptcy of Delphi, the former subsidiary of General Motors. Among the key issues in this morass is the ultimate disposition of the company's pension and OPEB liabilities. The situation is complicated because GM guaranteed an as-yet-unannounced portion of Delphi's liabilities, while Delphi indemnified GM against any loss from that guarantee. (Yes, they each agreed to cover the others' position!) Caught in the middle are the employees, represented by the United Auto Workers, trying desperately to hold onto jobs and benefits. Adding to the intrigue is the Securities and Exchange Commission's subpoena of GM's documents about its pension activities.
Despite the compelling need for it, there is little useful public information about Delphi's pension and OPEB plans, because the financial statement numbers have no connection with real amounts that are relevant for sorting out the uncertain future for Delphi and GM.
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