اقتصاد سیاسی هماهنگسازی مالی : بحران مالی شرق آسیا و افزایش استانداردهای بین المللی حسابداری
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|3260||2012||21 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||16510 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Accounting, Organizations and Society, Volume 37, Issue 6, August 2012, Pages 361–381
In the aftermath of the East Asian financial crisis, western nations established a new international financial architecture that relied upon enhanced financial transparency and international financial standards, including international financial reporting and auditing standards, to govern an expanding and crisis-prone international financial system. This paper examines the West’s response to financial crisis in the late 1990s and its implications for the rise and diffusion of international accounting standards from a theoretical perspective that blends institutional analysis and political economy. The aim is to understand how the history of accounting has both shaped and been shaped by transformations in the late 20th century international political economy where financial capital and the power of the financial sector play an increasingly central role in the process of accumulation.
Since the mid 1990s, the institutional arrangements governing financial accounting and auditing practice, which were organized at the national level by state regulators and professional associations for the better part of the 20th century, internationalized at a surprisingly rapid pace. This transformation is evident in the development and widespread diffusion of international financial reporting standards. Standards set by a supra-national body, the London-based International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and its predecessor, the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC), catapulted from relative obscurity in the early 1990s to become universally recognized world standards today. Use of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) is now required or permitted in over 100 countries, including the member nations of the European Union. Even in the United States, where support for domestic adoption of IFRS has been mixed, progress toward harmonization1 has gained ground following a series of regulatory shifts, including the 2002 Norwalk Agreement to achieve convergence between US and international financial reporting standards, and the 2007 Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) decision to allow foreign companies to use IFRS in SEC filings without reconciliation to US standards.2 Although less prominent than the rise of IFRS, the formalization of international auditing standards has, likewise, gained momentum in recent years (see Humphrey and Loft, 2009, Humphrey et al., 2009 and Loft and Humphrey, 2006). The surprisingly rapid pace of accounting harmonization in recent decades has inspired a stream of interdisciplinary accounting research aimed at explaining the rise of international financial reporting and auditing standards (for example see: Bhimani, 2008, Botzem and Quack, 2009, Camfferman and Zeff, 2007, Chau and Taylor, 2008, Chiapello and Medjad, 2009, Humphrey and Loft, 2009, Humphrey et al., 2009 and Loft and Humphrey, 2006). Interest in the forces driving accounting harmonization also extends beyond the accounting literature to the broader field of social sciences, where sociologists and political scientists have turned to the study of accounting harmonization in order to understand emerging forms of global economic governance (see: Armijo, 2001, Botzem, 2008, Eaton, 2005, Martinez-Diaz, 2005, Mattli and Büthe, 2003, Mattli and Büthe, 2005, Nölke and Perry, 2007, Perry and Nölke, 2005, Perry and Nölke, 2006, Porter, 2005, Posner, 2009 and Simons, 2001). This study contributes to this literature by examining one episode in the history of international accounting harmonization. The research focuses on an event that the IASB’s first Chairman, David Tweedie, frequently cites as a major turning point in the history of international accounting, namely the East Asian financial crisis of 1997–1998 (Street, 2002, Tweedie, 2002 and Tweedie, 2008). In the aftermath of the East Asian crisis, finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of 7 (G-7) nations3 set in place a so-called “new international financial architecture” to address the problem of systemic instability within the international financial system that had been exposed by the crisis. The centerpiece of their plan to reform the international financial infrastructure was the creation of a new international organization, the Financial Stability Forum (FSF), and the endorsement of a set of 12 financial standards and codes to govern the crisis ridden international financial system by bringing greater transparency to the marketplace. Significantly, the FSF selected international financial reporting standards and international auditing standards as two of the 12 financial standards that would form the foundation for global financial governance. Subsequent support for domestic accounting reforms within the developing world from the Financial Stability Forum, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) contributed to the development and diffusion of international accounting standards in several ways, both practical and ideological. The history of the rise of international accounting standards in the wake of the Asian crisis is interpreted from a theoretical perspective that blends institutional analysis and political economy, an approach that I call macro-institutional analysis.4 The lens of political economy allows us to examine the relationship between the process of international institution building within the accounting field and the transformation in late 20th century capitalism that Giovanni Arrighi, 1994 and Arrighi, 2007 and others refer to as financialization. The aim is to better understand how institutional developments within the accounting field, in this case the rise of international accounting standards, have both shaped and been shaped by the ascendance of financial capital to a dominant position within the world capitalist system. The following section discusses the research methodology. Section three describes the international financial architecture that was set in place in the wake of the East Asian crisis and the role that international accounting standards played within this emerging system of global financial governance. To answer the question of why accounting figured so prominently in the new international financial architecture, the paper situates the history of the response to the East Asian crisis and the G-7’s endorsement of international accounting standards in the context of several features of the international political economy, including the structural crisis of capitalism in the 1970s, the consequent rise of finance capital and dependence of the US and other advanced economies on the growth of the financial sector, the geopolitical influence of the United States in the 1990s as the organizing center of international capitalism, and US finance ministers’ support for institutional “reform” within emerging economies modeled on Anglo-American modes of financial governance in order to facilitate the growth and expansion of Western capital markets. The final sections of the paper discuss the implications of G-7s response to the East Asian financial crisis for the diffusion of international accounting standards, the international auditing industry, and prospects for global financial stability.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In contrast to accounting histories that are primarily concerned with the workings of accountancy bodies and intra-accounting debates (Camfferman & Zeff, 2007), this study grounds accounting history within the context of developments within the global political economy and the world inter-state system in order to provide an economic, political and institutional perspective on the rise of international accounting standards. In so doing, the study aims not only to bring economics back into institutional analysis (Arnold, 2009b), but also to bring an institutional perspective to political economy by showing that the institutional arrangements set in place to govern economic activity matter. To say that institutions matter is to argue that history is not merely the outcome of immutable economic laws, but rather that the course of history is shaped, at least in part, by institutional forms and governance arrangements that are brought into being by political and social struggles which are often sparked by financial and economic crises. In other words, it matters whether governments respond to financial crises by developing strong international and domestic institutions capable of governing financial markets, constraining the financial services industry, and protecting populations from the often devastating consequences of systemic instability, or rely instead on the rather thin promise that markets will self-correct given sufficient transparency, harmonized accounting standards, and surveillance by commercial auditing firms. In the case of the East Asian crisis, western nations chose to rely upon improvements in financial transparency as a remedy for financial instability instead of slowing the pace of financial market integration, constraining speculation, or making the substantive changes to the international financial architecture needed to protect societies from future crises. That choice was, at least in part, strategic. As this study shows, US Treasury Department officials saw accounting reform as a component of their efforts to further global financial integration and the spread of western capital markets to emerging economies in East Asia and the developing world. Accounting harmonization, thus, played a constitutive role in the financialization of the world economy and US-led efforts to shape the world economy in the image of Anglo-American, finance-led capitalism. This study has several limitations that need to be addressed by further research. The paper describes a “supra-politics” that does not address the ways in which institutional norms, capabilities, and organizational units developed prior to the crisis placed boundaries around the range of possible of responses to the East Asian financial crisis. Further research is needed to understand the extent to which institutional pre-conditions enabled and constrained the macro economic and political processes described in this paper. Additional research is also needed to examine whether and how conflicts within and between nation states, international accounting firms, and international economic institutions influenced construction of the international financial architecture. While this study discusses the role international accounting firms played in the creation of the IFAD, it does not examine international accounting industry’s harmonization strategies and lobbying activities in depth. Nor, does the study provide insights into internal debates and divisions, if any, among Financial Stability Forum members over the inclusion of accounting and auditing standards in the international financial architecture. Lastly, the paper does not examine the response within East Asia and the developing world to the West’s harmonization agenda. Further research is needed to understand the forms and extent of local resistance to and/or collaboration with the financial harmonization agenda. While this macro-level analysis of the East Asian financial crisis provides only a partial history of the rise of international accounting standards, it highlights aspects of that history that might otherwise be ignored. Would international accounting standards have risen to prominence were it not for the crisis of over-accumulation in the 1970s and the desire to open channels for profit making in the finance sector, the ascendance of financial capital in the 1980s and 1990s, US geo-political influence in the 1990s as the organizing center of world capitalism, and US support for expansion of globally integrated financial markets and accounting reform in emerging economies? This study argues that these macro-economic and political factors play a part in the history of the rise of international accounting standards and that the study of political economy can deepen our understanding of the dynamics of institutional change in the accounting field. The lessons of the East Asian crisis remain relevant today. In 2008, a decade after the East Asian crisis, the international financial system faced a crisis of even greater proportions, this time originating in the US subprime mortgage market. Although Arrighi (2007) and others argue that US hegemony over the world system is now in decline and the rise of China as an economic power has transformed East–West relations, much else remains the same. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, we are once again presented with an array of thoughtful proposals for substantive reform of the financial system reminiscent of earlier proposals, including calls for financial transaction taxes, stronger international and domestic regulation, and curbs on the size and power of financial firms. The G-20 has met and created a new Financial Stability Board (FSB) to replace the Financial Stability Forum. The Financial Stability Board and G-20 have once again endorsed the principles of financial transparency and accounting convergence. Meanwhile, in the decade since the East Asian crisis, the financial service industry has grown even more political powerful37 while the economies of the United States and other western nations remain dependent upon, if not hostage to, the financial sector. In the United States, the political influence and economic importance of the financial sector has weakened domestic financial reforms and meaningful reforms at the international level are once again proving difficult to implement. Anglo-American style financial capitalism, although discredited by the 2008 crisis, will no doubt survive in the intermediate term and continue to exercise economic and political influence within the world inter-state system. As a result, accounting standards and surveillance by commercial audit firms will, in all likelihood, continue to occupy a pivotal place in the governance of global capital markets and the regulation of international banking, thus, providing a fertile field for future research. Historical research can not only enhance our understanding of the forces driving international accounting harmonization, but also help us develop a more critical analysis of the role accounting plays in the institutional arrangements governing financial markets. This requires questioning the adequacy of transparency as a governance mechanism and identifying its limits. The notion that financial reporting and auditing reduce information asymmetry and thereby enable self-regulating financial markets to operate efficiently is a normative theory that neither describes the world nor explains the historical origins of accounting practices and institutions. If left unchallenged by accounting scholars, the belief will persist that “getting the accounting ‘right’” (Young, 1995) will somehow ensure financial stability even in the presence of institutionally weak international and domestic financial regulatory structures and a highly financialized and crisis-prone world economy. Arguably, the illusion that financial transparency aided by harmonized financial reporting standards and auditing surveillance can substitute for stronger forms of oversight and constraints on financial speculation contributes to financial instability by providing ideological support for dangerous levels of financial speculation and minimal regulation. This was true in the aftermath of the East Asian crisis in the late 1990s and remains so today.