Enron, fair value accounting, and financial crises: a concise history

Enron, fair value accounting, and financial crises: a concise history PurposeWhile the debate about fair value accounting (FVA) and the global financial crisis (GFC) of 2008-2009 has been explored in the academic and professional literature, there has been little debate about the consequences of FVA being implicated in the crash of Enron around 2001, and the effect of this on later FVA developments and the GFC. The purpose of this paper is to examine how well regulators, political actors, and other commentators may have understood the use, misuse, effects and consequences of FVA at the time of Enron, and to examine how this collective understanding (or lack thereof) has influenced later accounting policy, especially that going into and arising from the GFC.Design/methodology/approachUsing content analysis, the commentary about FVA is traced through documents, primarily the US Congressional Hearings’ examination of the collapse of Enron that took place between December 2001 and December 2002. An assessment of the knowledge of and attitudes toward FVA is made from these and is then traced through later developments including policy responses before, during and after the GFC.FindingsLinks are found between the collapse of Enron and adjustments to FVA in the mid-2000s, which in turn became implicated in the GFC. These linkages are explored in the context of a fair value world view held by global standards setters in the mid-2000s. During the timeline from the 1990s to the mid-2000s, those advocating and adopting FVA as part of this world view, may have had collectively an insufficient understanding of the consequences or effects of FVA technology.Originality/valueThe study provides evidence of a direct link between Enron, the response of global standard setters, and the GFC controversy. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal Emerald Publishing

Enron, fair value accounting, and financial crises: a concise history

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Publisher
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
0951-3574
D.O.I.
10.1108/AAAJ-04-2016-2525
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

PurposeWhile the debate about fair value accounting (FVA) and the global financial crisis (GFC) of 2008-2009 has been explored in the academic and professional literature, there has been little debate about the consequences of FVA being implicated in the crash of Enron around 2001, and the effect of this on later FVA developments and the GFC. The purpose of this paper is to examine how well regulators, political actors, and other commentators may have understood the use, misuse, effects and consequences of FVA at the time of Enron, and to examine how this collective understanding (or lack thereof) has influenced later accounting policy, especially that going into and arising from the GFC.Design/methodology/approachUsing content analysis, the commentary about FVA is traced through documents, primarily the US Congressional Hearings’ examination of the collapse of Enron that took place between December 2001 and December 2002. An assessment of the knowledge of and attitudes toward FVA is made from these and is then traced through later developments including policy responses before, during and after the GFC.FindingsLinks are found between the collapse of Enron and adjustments to FVA in the mid-2000s, which in turn became implicated in the GFC. These linkages are explored in the context of a fair value world view held by global standards setters in the mid-2000s. During the timeline from the 1990s to the mid-2000s, those advocating and adopting FVA as part of this world view, may have had collectively an insufficient understanding of the consequences or effects of FVA technology.Originality/valueThe study provides evidence of a direct link between Enron, the response of global standard setters, and the GFC controversy.

Journal

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Jan 15, 2018

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