This week’s blogs: deep in debt

The Declaration from [the] G20 summit in Washington and, in particular,
paragraphs 3 & 4 setting out the ‘root causes of the current crisis’, makes
no mention of accounting issues, problems with fair value or anything similar.

The leaders of the G20 stated the crisis arose because ‘market participants
sought higher yields without an adequate appreciation of the risks and failed to
exercise proper due diligence. At the same time, weak underwriting standards,
unsound risk management practices, complex and opaque financial products and
excessive leverage combined to create vulnerabilities in the system.’

It’s a victory for common sense and an opportunity to contribute.

Jeremy Newman, CEO, BDO Intl

I’ve heard of major retailers seeking to stretch credit terms to 90, 120,
even 180 days. Even large suppliers face huge difficulty financing debt books
like that. As for smaller suppliers, squeezed by their bank managers all the
while, providing credit on such terms is impossible.

Perhaps it’s time more businesses adopted the Late Payment of Commercial
Debts Act 1998, as amended. The regulations entitle a supplier to charge 8% over
base on late payments.

The definition of late payments makes interesting reading. Basically, 30 days
is the accepted credit period, even if you’ve no agreed credit terms with your
business customers.

And, if your customer forced you to sign up to longer terms or to accept late
settlement interest at significantly lower rates, those elements of your
contract will be voided by the courts.

Peter Rogol, partner, Goodman Jones

The timing and choice of venue for the Lehman Brothers’ administration
meeting last week raised an eyebrow round these parts.

PricewaterhouseCoopers administrators chose the 02 Arena in London Docklands
to warn creditors that the job was ‘10 times as big and as complicated as the
unwinding of Enron’ and warned some that they would lose money.

As many as 1,000 creditors attended. With that many turning up, presumably it
was the main
hall that was used and not the PwC box.

More entertainingly the meeting bisected a two-night Leonard Cohen residency
at the same venue.

At this point I think I’ll leave you to insert your own punchline about which
was the more miserable event.

Damian Wild, editor-in-chief and publisher, Accountancy

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