Keeping the Promise of Global Accounting Standards

Nicolas Véron
Content Type
Policy Brief
The Polish Institute of International Affairs
Accounting is a fundamental underpinning of capital markets, and the worldwide spread of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) marks one of the most advanced attempts to develop globally consistent financial rules. The financial crisis has generated heated debates on the economic role of fair value accounting and other IFRS principles. Underlying these controversies are differing views about the mission and governance of accounting standard-setters, and how standards interact with other public policy instruments. The absence of relevant precedents for the unique institutional features of the IFRS Foundation, the global standard-setting organization, makes choices more difficult.The IFRS' defining promise is crossborder comparability of financial statements, but the aim of global harmonization will not be fully achieved in the next few years. Given the varying pace and modalities of local IFRS adoption, the IFRS Foundation must focus on the quality of its standards and the integrity of its brand. Standardsetting should serve investors' information needs, leaving other public-policy goals to be met through local assessment by individual jurisdictions. The foundation's governance and funding framework should strengthen its accountability to the global investor community. Active monitoring of local endorsement and implementation practices should encourage the gradual convergence of “IFRS dialects” towards a true single global reporting language.
Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets