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Spin Doctors Working Overtime on IFRS

Spin Doctors Working Overtime on IFRS

Bill Sheridan | CPA Success

March 19, 2010

“Say you were standing with one foot in the oven and one foot in an ice bucket,” former Major League shortstop and manager Bobby Bragan once said. “According to the percentage people, you would be perfectly comfortable.”

Bragan, who died earlier this year at the age of 92, knew the fickle nature of statistics: They can be spun to tell any story you’d like.

So he would’ve gotten a kick out of the way the press has covered a recent KPMG survey on international financial reporting standards, or IFRS.

First, there’s Reuters, which declared, “Half of U.S. execs want to use IFRS early.”

Writes Reuters reporter Emily Chasan: “About half of U.S. executives would like to be able to move to international accounting sooner rather than later even though U.S. regulators have not made a formal decision to mandate a switch, according to a new survey.”

Not so fast, says Accountancy Age, whose article about the same survey is titled, “U.S. business execs still unsure about IFRS.”

Accountancy Age Reporter Mario Christodoulou looked at the same data and came to this conclusion: “More than half of American business executives are not convinced the U.S. should adopt international accounting standards, a KPMG survey has found.”

No wonder it’s so hard to figure out what’s going on.

So who’s right?

It depends on your point of view. It’s kind of a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty argument: Half the executives want to move, half are unsure. There’s no real consensus.

Maybe that’s the real story. Though the International Accounting Standards Board and the Financial Accounting Standards Board both insist they’re on track to adopt a single set of standards some time in 2011, some folks are concerned that the United States continues to argue about the merits of IFRS while more than 100 other countries march forward.

What’s your take on IFRS? Is it time to hit the gas … or the brake?