Europe & the Euro Archives - Page 4 of 7 - Emile Woolf writes

Emile’s thoughts on Scottish independence

Understanding separatism The Scottish bid for independence was far from unique in today’s restless world. Madrid’s central and highly interventionist government, for example, is no friend to the people of Catalonia, who speak a different language and have every reason to feel remote and culturally disenfranchised. French-speaking Canadians in Quebec recently urged divorce from British-oriented […]

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Capital allocation & infrastructure spending: let the markets decide

My summer riverboat cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest along the Rhine, Main and Danube proved to be fully as instructive as it was relaxing. The majestic hilltop fortresses, castles and palatial edifices, erected to keep out tribal hordes, also testify to indulgences pursued by monarchs, princes and bishops over hundreds of years of relentless self-aggrandisement […]

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Auditing the auditors: some improvement. But what of the economy?

The audit failures I have been highlighting so regularly are given full exposure in the Financial Reporting Council’s latest report on big-firm audit quality in the UK. Adverse findings relate to the usual suspects: goodwill impairment, revenue recognition, IT controls and loan loss provisions. Although quality (or lack of it) varies between the four top […]

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Sloppy auditing has its consequences – just look around you

My repeated warnings to auditors that compliance with IFRS does not guarantee accounting truth and fairness appear to have struck a resounding chord in high places: the House of Lords, to be precise, where the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards debated the Bill on banking reform, now enacted by Royal Assent. In Hansard for 23 […]

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Correspondence with Patrick Baron on the role of money & wealth transfers

From Pat Baron: “Emile, Even Germany is not immune to the predations of the euro.  I keep pointing out that German exporters benefit from euro credit expansion, but at the expense of all other Germans.  This is one reason that Germany is reluctant to put an end to the euro mess…the exporters and their constituents, workers, […]

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Auditors, wasted loans, currency wars… and gold

I noted last month that the record of auditors’ ability to assess the worth of banks’ loan portfolios is singularly uninspiring. In the US the Securities and Exchange Commission is actively pursuing auditors who issued clean opinions after accepting management’s assurances of worth, followed by massive bailouts. Yet any meaningful audit is impossible when supposed […]

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Auditing banks’ toxic debts

AUDITING BANKS’ TOXIC DEBTS Ever since the financial markets registered their massive tumble in 2008, when Lehman Brothers was left to drown in its swamp of toxic debts, banks’ managements, regulators, rating agencies and auditors have been muttering that banks must rebuild their balance sheets in line with successive Basel capital adequacy criteria. Their auditors, […]

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Hiding the truth with complexity: trust your own reason

When I started writing for this magazine over 40 years ago the editor was a wise old owl called Geoffrey Holmes. During a conversation on some thorny accounting controversy Geoffrey would slyly suggest that I tackle it in my next article. It was no use suggesting a different subject – he would simply look at […]

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Sanity will return – In its own time

Everyone knows that the world’s economic woes are soluble. Every leader acknowledges the blessings of free trade, low taxes, sound money and less regulation. Yet their actions, as ever, speak louder than words and somehow achieve the precise opposite. Take “free trade”. It allows cross-border commercial transactions to take place between willing traders unimpeded by […]

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Time to call the European Commission to Account

The subject of Europe polarises any otherwise rational debate. Obsessional prejudice, whether pro or con, induces deafness and drives out reason. More inflammatory even than party politics (where spin and expediency have blunted the ideals), passions over Europe (the Union, not the continent) have taken on the trappings of a belief system, susceptible to neither […]

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