IFRS Monopoly: The Pied Piper of Financial Reporting
Accounting and Business Research, Vol. 41, No. 3, pp. 291-306, 2011
Posted: 17 Aug 2011
Date Written: December 1, 2010
The links among better financial reporting, better markets, and better economy and society are arguable, but they remain poorly understood. The addition of IFRS to the set of available alternatives may improve these linkages, but granting them monopoly status does not. Claims that the universal adoption of IFRS as a single set of high-quality principles-based standards will yield global comparability are overblown. Accounting standards operate less like a uniform system of weights and measures and more like a single currency, in that both play multiple roles in modern economies. An IFRS monopoly is evolutionarily disadvantageous in that it eliminates the opportunity to compare alternative practices and learn from them. It also disallows the tailoring of financial reporting to local variations in economic, business, commercial, legal, auditing, regulatory and governance conditions across the globe. Empirical studies of statistical covariation across financial reports produced by IFRS have yielded mixed results and, in any case, provide little insight as to the merits of granting IFRS a world monopoly. The vociferous campaign in support of IFRS monopoly is reminiscent of the 1990s campaign in support of the now-discredited ‘Washington Consensus’. Then, as now, it was a case of promoting theoretical benefits while obscuring potential costs and risks. This is the familiar story of the Pied Piper leading his trusting victims to their doom.
Keywords: Accounting, International Financial Reporting Standards, IFRS, Monopoly, Risks
JEL Classification: M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation