[OPE-L] Smoke & Mirrors, Inc.: Accounting for Capitalism

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Mon Jul 17 2006 - 18:56:19 EDT

have you heard of or read this book? We live in the (dis-) information age.

Smoke & Mirrors, Inc.: Accounting for Capitalism 
(Cornell Studies in Money) (Hardcover)
by Nicolas Véron, Matthieu Autret, Alfred Galichon, George Holoch (Translator)

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Editorial Reviews
Book Description
Enron, Arthur Andersen, Parmalat, AIG: business 
headlines over the last few years have stimulated 
worldwide interest in accounting responsibilities 
and standards. Smoke & Mirrors, Inc., is a 
remarkable introduction to contemporary 
accounting and its central importance for the 
operation of modern capitalism. Beginning with 
the financial status of the eponymous fictional 
company-a fireworks manufacturer-Nicolas Véron, 
Matthieu Autret, and Alfred Galichon dissect the 
ways in which manipulation of financial reporting 
can convert a rotten balance sheet into a picture 
of robust financial health.
After deftly establishing the ease with which 
accounting sleight-of-hand may paint a different 
and rosy financial prospect, Véron and his 
coauthors provide a brief history of accounting's 
emergence and its key concepts, focusing on the 
scope for manipulation (including a detailed 
account of some tricks with which Enron cooked 
its books). They then shift their focus to the 
political economy of various actors involved in 
the preparation, assurance, and use of financial 
information and the new challenges facing 
regulators as capital markets spread across 
national boundaries. The authors challenge 
standard beliefs that accounting practices are 
neutral and involve the mere reporting of 
objective data. They trace how different 
accounting rules, which alter the calculus of 
what counts as a "fair representation" of 
business dealings, can change economic behavior.
For students of business finance, practicing 
accountants and businesspeople, and general 
readers who have followed a seemingly endless 
parade of financial scandals with disbelief, 
Smoke & Mirrors, Inc., provides a clear and 
concise overview of the use and abuse of 

From the Back Cover
"This book is a fascinating and lively read. I 
know of no other book that shows with the 
concreteness of Smoke & Mirrors, Inc., how 
different economic and political systems demand 
and produce different kinds of financial 
information and how the information shapes 
business practices."-Suzanne Berger, MIT, author 
of  How We Compete

  See all Editorial Reviews

Product Details
        *       Hardcover: 233 pages
        *       Publisher: Cornell University Press (June 1, 2006)
        *       Language: English
        *       ISBN: 0801444160

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