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Home > Balance Sheets Key Concepts > Accounting

Balance Sheets Key Concepts

Accounting


Accounting

Virtually all countries require companies, as well as other organizations which carry out financial transactions, such as charities, to produce a set of accounts. However, the requirement on which data should or should not be included in a set of accounts varies widely from country to country. Failure to provide the authorities with a complete set of accounts by a specified date can result in heavy penalties being imposed on a business and its directors.

The global financial crisis has prompted a debate about whether accounting rules should be changed to ensure that similar crises can be avoided in the future. Although many countries concur that higher standards are needed, there is little consensus on the changes that should be made. There is no agreement, for example, on the way that assets should be measured on a bank’s balance sheet. In general, the Americans would like to opt for mark-to-market or fair value accounting under which assets are assigned a current fair market price. By contrast, European governments prefer a “smoothed” balance-sheets approach, under which values are averaged out over a number of years.

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