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ACFI3009 Contemporary Accounting Issues

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Question:

Part 1

During the sub-prime banking crisis it was claimed by many (especially banks themselves) that accounting requirements - as reflected in various accounting standards - that require reporting entities to measure many of their assets at fair value actually exacerbated the financial crisis (Laux and Leuz, 2009; Power 2010). This is a phenomena termed procyclicality. It is argued that when markets for financial assets (such as shares, bonds and derivatives) are booming, the value of these assets held by banks, and shown at fair value within their statements of financial position, will similarly rise significantly above their historical cost – thus increasing the reported net assets and capital and
reserves of the bank.

Conversely, it was argued by many at the time of the sub-prime banking crisis that when markets for financial assets are in free-fall (as they were at times during the crisis) fair value accounting exacerbates a downward spiral of asset prices and bank lending that is equally unreflective of (and significantly overstates) decreases in real underlying economic values (Laux and Leuz, 2009)’
Deegan, Financial Accounting Theory 4e, 2014, p.197

Consulting Report 1

Assume you have been employed as a consultant to the Australian Shareholder’s Association. You have been employed to prepare a report to be distributed to the members of the association evaluating the benefits and risks of ‘mark-to-market’ accounting and evaluating its usefulness for reporting asset values in general purpose corporate financial statements.

Part 2

‘In 1987, the World Commission on Environment and Development set out an aspirational goal of sustainable development – describing it as ‘development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’
 
Through their activities and relationships, all organizations make positive and negative contributions toward the goal of sustainable development. Organizations therefore have a key role to play in achieving this goal.

Sustainability reporting, as promoted by the GRI Standards, is an organization’s practice of reporting publicly on its economic, environmental, and/or social impacts, and hence its contributions – positive or negative – towards the goal of sustainable development.
 
Through this process, an organization identifies its significant impacts on the economy, the environment, and/or society and discloses them in accordance with a globallyaccepted standard.
The GRI Standards create a common language for organizations and stakeholders, with which the economic, environmental, and social impacts of organizations can be communicated and understood. The Standards are designed to enhance the global comparability and quality of information on these impacts, thereby enabling greater transparency and accountability of organizations.
 
Sustainability reporting based on the GRI Standards should provide a balanced and reasonable representation of an organization’s positive and negative contributions towards the goal of sustainable development.’

Consulting Report 2
 
Assume you have been employed as a consultant to a company board of directors. The company chairman has asked to be provided with a report to be table at the next board meeting that evaluates the benefits and costs of adopting the Global Reporting Initiative Standards.
 
learnt you are an expert in accounting theory and has requested that your report incorporate a theoretical perspective on sustainability accounting and financial reporting. 
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