The Securities and Exchange Commission plans to hold a roundtable discussion on Aug. 4 to compare the performance of International Financial Reporting Standards and U.S. generally accepted accounting principles during the recent period of market turmoil caused by the subprime loan crisis.

The SEC expects to issue a roadmap later this summer laying out the timing for the convergence of IFRS with U.S. GAAP (see Industry Leader Q&A with Conrad Hewitt). One of the sticking points has been a concern that the principles-based IFRS approach will leave more leeway for companies to understate their losses.

"This roundtable will provide the commission with valuable insights from investors, issuers, auditors and others about the way that both IFRS and U.S. GAAP performed in the context of the current pressures on the marketplace," said SEC Chairman Christopher Cox in a statement. "We are particularly interested in how the two sets of standards dealt with the key accounting issues in the subprime crisis, including off-balance-sheet entities and fair value."

Nevertheless, the convergence process seems inevitable. "I think it's imminent," Grant Thornton CEO Ed Nusbaum (pictured) told WebCPA. "It's the only way for U.S. markets to be competitive on a long-term basis."

The roundtable will take place from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time and will consist of two panels. Representatives from the Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board will be present as observers.

The roundtable will be held in the auditorium at the SEC's headquarters in Washington and also will be webcast on the SEC Web site. The SEC is soliciting feedback and comments through an Internet Submission Form on its Web site or via e-mail at rule-comments@sec.gov.

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