Volume 10, No. 12

 

When Good Assets Go Bad: Writedown Rules Revisited:  The general economy, wobbly at best before the terrorist attacks of September 11, is now considered by most observers to be staggering. The malaise will call into question the values placed on assets in corporate balance sheets throughout the United States - and will likely cause writedowns and rejiggerings of assets and personnel in the months and quarters to come. With perhaps eerily prescient timing, earlier this month the FASB released a standard that was several years in the making - Statement No. 144, "Accounting for the Impairment or Disposal of Long-Lived Assets." Effective in the coming calendar year, this standard won't necessarily change the way firms recognize or measure impaired assets - but it will very likely have a profound effect on how managements determine which operations to discontinue. Combine a faltering economy with a generation of managers schooled in shucking off non-essentials and an overarching relaxation in the rules governing the way discontinued operations are classified. What do you get? A smorgasbord table for deal-starved investment bankers. The economic consequences of this standard could be powerful.

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