Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Would That Really Be Good?

Great article today from the Wall Street Journal on financial institutions' efforts to lobby for an accounting rule change:

Not long after the bottom fell out of the market for mortgage securities last fall, a group of financial firms took aim at an accounting rule that forced them to report billions of dollars of losses on those assets.
Marshalling a multimillion-dollar lobbying campaign, these firms persuaded key members of Congress to pressure the accounting industry to change the rule in April.
The payoff is likely to be fatter bottom lines in the second quarter.

I’d like to set aside the ethics of politicians such as Rep. Paul Kanjorski, who over the past two years received "$704,000 in contributions from banking and insurance firms, the third-highest total among members of Congress, according to the FEC and the Center for Responsive Politics.”* I’ll also ignore for the day the debate over which accounting rule is right.


But take note of this quote from a Kanjorski spokesperson:

“A spokeswoman says Rep. Kanjorski believes the accounting industry's rule-making body, the Financial Accounting Standards Board, or FASB, made the right move since neither mark-to-market critics nor advocates are "entirely pleased with the outcome." She says campaign contributions didn't factor into the congressman's thinking.”

Why would a decision be good just because both sides are unhappy? Shouldn’t we be making decisions because…I don’t know…that decision is simply the right thing to do. There should be no need to compromise when one side is wrong.

Just more typical PR BS. But at least Kanjorski’s people tried to defend him.

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