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Buried in the recent Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) publication of guidance for management on Sarbanes-Oxley was the admonition that companies should start to follow principles-based accounting, as long as it is compliant with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Unfortunately, at this time, there is no meaningful definition of principles-based accounting for an executive to follow. Many people point to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) as a model and want our system to converge with these standards. The concept sounds good in theory, but could result in either weaker U.S. rules or with so many exceptions that convergence would occur in name only.

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