Accounting Article Summary

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The article Wielding Derivatives as a Tool for Deceit by Floyd Norris, a writer for the New York Times, talks about how derivatives can be used as “weapons of mass deception”. Enron is a classic example of this. They used phony accounting methods, including derivatives, to make their financial statements seem stronger and less risky than they actually were. The banks, that were essentially giving them loans, were also involved in this scheme. The latest news of large-scale use of derivatives to deceive is the case of Italy and Greece entering into the Euro. The government received money, which was essentially a loan, but was able to keep it off the balance sheet because of its title. This made the financial statements look better so that the country could join the Euro. The article compared this to a student cheating on entrance exams to be accepted into a better college. This article brings into question the moral and ethical decisions businesses must make regarding their financial actions. Just because something is technically legal to do, does not mean it is ethical. Key individuals, who are in charge of what a business does, need to be involved and knowledgeable enough to understand when something like this is happening. If the business is doing something to deceive others, it is probably something they shouldn’t be doing.

June 27, 2013
Wielding Derivatives as a Tool for Deceit
By FLOYD NORRIS
Derivatives are not always “financial weapons of mass destruction,” as Warren Buffett famously called them.
But they are often weapons of mass deception.
For some derivatives, a desire for deception is the only reason they exist. That deception can allow those who own derivatives to evade taxes or accounting rules. It can allow activity that might otherwise be illegal, were it not called a derivative, or that would face regulation if it were labeled what it…...

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