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As adoption of international financial reporting standards moves to the fast track, finance executives appear conflicted, a recent U.S./European survey indicated. The majority of 749 international corporate finance professionals interviewed by Duke and Oxford universities favor a shift from generally accepted accounting practices (GAAP) to international financial reporting standards (IFRS). And yet 60 percent say the complexity and cost of switching standards may outweigh the benefits and 40 percent question whether truly global standards are achievable, given the different legal environments and business cultures across countries.

“There’s a lot at stake,” says Tim Buthe, an assistant professor at Duke. “Good standards can improve the efficient allocation of scarce financial resources, but, conversely, poor standards or standards that lend themselves to inconsistent implementation can seriously undermine public confidence in financial markets and thereby exacerbate financial crises and economic hardship.” Buthe and Oxford professor Walter Mattli talked to experts from the United States, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

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