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Smoke and Mirrors, Inc.: Accounting for Capitalism (Cornell Studies in Money)

Enron, Arthur Andersen, Parmalat, AIG: business headlines over the last few years have stimulated worldwide interest in accounting responsibilities and standards. Smoke and Mirrors, Inc., is a remarkable introduction to contemporary accounting and its central importance for the operation of modern capitalism. Nicolas Véron, Matthieu Autret, and Alfred Galichon show how accounting always mirrored the features of contemporaneous financial systems, while remaining intrinsically subject to judgment and uncertainty and thus leaving scope for manipulation that can convert a rotten balance sheet into a picture of robust financial health.

Beginning with the story of the fictional company Smoke & Mirrors Inc., Véron and his coauthors provide a brief history of accounting’s emergence and its key concepts and practices. They then shift their focus to the political economy of the various actors involved in the preparation, auditing, and use of financial information and the new challenges facing regulators as capital markets spread across national boundaries. The authors challenge widespread beliefs that accounting practices are neutral and involve the mere reporting of objective data. They trace how different accounting standards, which alter the calculus of what counts as a “fair representation” of business dealings, can change economic behavior. Along the way they provide numerous examples and case studies, including a detailed account of the tricks with which Enron cooked its books.

For students of corporate finance, practicing accountants and businesspeople, and general readers who have followed a seemingly endless parade of financial scandals with disbelief, Smoke and Mirrors, Inc., provides a clear and concise overview of the use and abuse of accounting and of the underlying changes in today’s capital markets.

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Author: Nicolas Véron, Matthieu Autret, Alfred Galichon,

Editor/Translator: George Holoch

Edition: 1

Binding: Hardcover

Condition: New

Manufacturer: Cornell University Press

Number of items: 1

Number of pages: 256

Product group: Book

Studio: Cornell University Press

Publication Date: June 1, 2006

Publisher: Cornell University Press

Pages: 256

EAN: 9780801444166

ISBN: 0801444160

ASIN: 0801444160

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Nicolas Véron
Nicolas Véron is a senior fellow at Bruegel, and a visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, DC. His research is mostly about financial systems and financial reform around the world, including global financial regulatory initiatives and current developments in the European Union.