Magazine article The American Prospect

Transparent Hypocrisy. (Devil in the Details)

Magazine article The American Prospect

Transparent Hypocrisy. (Devil in the Details)

Article excerpt

REMEMBER "TRANSPARENCY?" Time was when this was the battle cry of American businesses, and their obliging government, as they ventured into the world. For more than a decade, U.S-based megacorporations have insisted on tighter accounting standards from Belgium to Botswana. If the books weren't clear, the assets and liabilities transparent, how could they tell whether some local concern was suitable for purchase, or gutting, or both? Transparency became a key U.S. demand in trade negotiations, and when economies were tottering on distant shores, you could count on Bob Rubin or some underling to remind that nation that it could hardly expect an International Monetary Fund bailout if no one could decipher its balance sheets.

But that was then. Today, the International Accounting Standards Board is widely expected to adopt a rule, binding in much of the rest of the world, that would require companies to list their stock options as expenses--one very big step on the road to transparency. …

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