Volume 23, No. 1 & 2: Accounting Issues: Rewinding 2013, Previewing 2014
Financial reporting evolves continually, as investment bankers tease the DNA of transactions to mutate into something other than their original state. The blurring of lines between debt and equity is a case in point. Another motivating factor in the evolution of financial reporting is that companies can be imaginative in putting on their best face for the capital markets beauty pageant. Standard setters return to the drawing board to improve accounting requirements, tweaking them enough to change the behavior of financial statement preparers. New standards become effective, and then analysts and investors grumble that their models are no longer relevant and need to be adjusted. In short, standard setting is an exercise that disrupts almost everyone in the capital markets arena. Yet it’s also a necessary exercise for capital markets to continue being fair. Though analysts and investors might not relish the prospect of learning about the effects of new standards – and the behavior they might be reining in – they would be even more disgruntled if they believed relevant information was being obscured or simply held out of their view.
All told, the FASB pushed out twelve “Accounting Standards Updates” in 2013; none of them were ground-breaking. Five of them were consensuses of the Emerging Issues Task Force, whose pronouncements rarely carry wide-ranging impact. Still, the FASB’s 2013 output will affect 2014 reporting – and if you study what the FASB has done in 2013, you’ll see how its priorities continue to evolve. Presented here is a summary of the FASB’s 2013 pronouncements and its 2014 plans, along with a look back at the accounting and business news for the year 2013.