Tuesday, September 8, 2009

G-20 Finance Ministers Issue Progress Report, Next Steps In Advance of Pittsburgh Summit

As a lead-in to the G-20 meeting set to take place in Pittsburgh on Sept. 24-25, at which President Barack Obama will host the leaders of nations representing 85% of the world's economy, the G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors held a meeting in London on Sept. 4-5. At the conclusion of the Sept. 4-5 meeting, the following documents were released:

Accounting Convergence One Among Many Issues
Convergence of accounting standards is one among many issues in the G-20 progress report and declaration. Other issues relate to credit rating agencies, corporate governance (including board oversight of risk and compensation), executive compensation, countercyclical measures, prudential regulation, regulation of systemically significant institutions, non-cooperative (tax) jurisdictions, and more.

The topic of accounting convergence is treated more narrowly (i.e. scoped to specific transactions) in the short-term declaration vs. the longer-term progress report. Topic number 6 in the declaration notes the importance of striving toward:

Convergence towards a single set of high-quality, global, independent accounting standards on financial instruments, loan-loss provisioning, off-balance sheet exposures and the impairment and valuation of financial assets. Within the framework of the independent accounting standard setting process, the IASB is encouraged to take account of the Basel Committee guiding principles on IAS 39 and the report of the Financial Crisis Advisory Group; and its constitutional review should improve the involvement of stakeholders, including prudential regulators and the emerging markets.

In comparison, the longer term, more widely scoped progress report addresses the G-20 leader's prior calls (at the 11/08 and 4/09 G-20 Summits) as follows under Item 87 of the Washington Action Plan:

  • Action plan text: "Accounting standard setters should take action to make significant progress towards a single set of high quality global accounting standards by the end of 2009."
  • Progress made (note the language "converge with or adopt" - emphasis added): "In addition to the specific international convergence activities noted above, nearly all FSB jurisdictions have programmes underway to converge with or adopt the standards of the International Accounting Standards Board by 2012."
Besides convergence, there are various other steps in the topic of Accounting in the progress report to the Washington Action Plan, including reducing complexity, addressing off-balance sheet transactions, increasing involvement of stakeholders, including prudential regulators, in setting/overseeing the establishment of accounting standards, enhancing disclosure relating to complex financial products, and more.

Props to WSJ which provided links to the G-20 doc's next to the article which appeared in yesterday's WSJ, G-20 Sets Broad Bank Pact : Finance Officials Still Working on Likely Sticking Points, Such as Bonus Caps, by Stephen Fidler and Laurence Norman.

Other commentary on IFRS and Accounting: Lagarde, Pounder

More commentary relating to the G-20 generally and accounting specifically can be found in the article, G20: ECB Noyer: Uniform Accounting Key To Stronger Regulation, by Gabriele Parussini, Dow Jones Newswires (via Nasdaq website).

Separately, I highly recommend (reminder: see disclaimer on the right margin of this blog) Bruce Pounder's recent post in his IFRS in Perspective blog, (a fellow blogger in AccountingWEB Bloggers' Crew), specifically his Sept. 6 post on: One Set of Standards vs. One Standard-Setter.

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