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FASB, SEC, GAAP, IASB, IFRS, International Accounting Standards
For a long time, the United States (US) Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), are considered as the gold standard for financial reporting by companies all over the world. With the advent of globalization of capital markets and the proliferation of the multi-national corporations (MNCs), there emerged a movement for developing a uniform set of accounting standards applicable to companies all over the world in order to achieve uniformity in financial reporting. The movement is initiated by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) which started to issue International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Over the last decade, four alternative methods have been considered by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for a possible adoption of IFRS in the US: outright adoption, convergence, endorsement, and condorsement. Recently, the SEC appears to be taking a step backwards in its policy towards adoption of IFRS. The process involves prohibitive costs to US companies which are already suffering under the ill effects of a great recession. The adoption of IFRS would also impose enormous burden on the academia, the accounting profession, and the regulatory apparatus of the SEC. Also, there is a question as to whether a single set of international accounting standards applicable to all countries is even desirable. The FASB and the IASB have been working on convergence since 2002. The SEC began studying the pros and cons of adoption of IFRS since 2010. But, in its latest staff report, issued in July 2012, the SEC did not include any final policy decision as to whether IFRS will ever be adopted at all in any manner in the US. Furthermore, the SEC, in its report, made it very clear that turning over control of US accounting standard-setting authority to the IASB is out of question. This paper presents the various efforts made so far in aligning US GAAP with the IFRS and the future outlook regarding adoption of IFRS in the US.
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