Obama: asset or liability?

Barack Obama Accountancy Age cover October 2008

Barack Obama, charismatic, persuasive, astute and promising the kind of
radical change to US politics that many around the world could not imagine. This
is the most gripping US election in decades and yet would either candidate be
good for accountants?

The answer is that Obama, if he wins, has the potential to send the
development of core issues ­ international standards, audit liability caps and
fair value ­ in a direction that could not have been imagined just a few months

Probing the prospects for accountants under a new presidential regime is not
an empty task. The interconnected nature of the global economy means
developments in the US, as we have seen with the credit crisis, can have far
reaching ramifications for other nations. The Sarbanes Oxley Act to clean up
internal controls, after the Enron and WorldCom collapses, demonstrates
emphatically just how change in US financial regulation can quickly transform
the landscape for accountants in Britain, Europe and far beyond.

So, as we wait for the outcome of this historic presidential election, there
are questions accountants need to consider.

There are four key areas. Will the new president permanently disable fair
value? Will he accept the argument for an audit liability cap? Will a shift to
international accounting standards be embraced? How good will a new president be
to companies through corporate taxation?

Few direct statements have been made on any of these issues by the
candidates, but our writers have spoken to observers and advisers to give
Accountancy Age readers some idea of what might be on the horizon. It cannot be
forgotten that the financial crisis may have changed everything. A more inward
looking president may not think highly of auditors or convergence to global
accounting standards. It’s possible a new president may be more protectionist,
much less of an internationalist.

As we near the conclusion of this campaign, there is everything to play for
in the big issues affecting accountants. In the following pages our writers will
hopefully throw some light on the direction a new president will take.

To read all the general news, features and comment on the topic, click on
the stories below…

Big Four staff put money on Obama

Duo tipped to battle it out for SEC chairman role

Fair value’s future remains uncertain

‘When looking for scapegoats anybody could be found’

Educated guess work

Campaign trial

A mandate to reform and regulate

Overview: war on tax havens

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