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2010 | 2010(56(112)) | 223-244

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The future of international accounting

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One of the most disturbing features observed among producers of financial re-ports is a growing tendency to focus on conforming to narrowly defined measure-ment rules that do not necessarily reflect the economic substance of transactions. Standard setters try to respond to those needs, but it is not possible (and never will be) to create detailed rules which could be reliably used in each element of account-ing measurement.This narrow focus has arisen as a result of imposing comparability as a primary objective and the perception that managers take maximum liberty to exploit infor-mation asymmetries. There is a growing number of examples where more detailed rules – as opposed to a broader rule that has the same basic requirements – have not eliminated or even reduced the opportunity for abuse. It is time to face the unpleasant truth about accounting standards. The evidence further suggests that detailed rules have created an illusion of precision in accounting measurements, while in fact subjective choices still have to be made. In this context the question arises whether such detailed measurement rules have exacerbated litigation rather than reduced it, as financial crises seem to indicate.At the same time standard setters – first of all the IASB – hope that today’s mood of financial conservatism will allow them to tighten up accounting standards and create Global Financial Reporting Standards to be used worldwide. In this paper some contradictions and dilemmas connected with such an approach are being discussed.



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