Fed survey shows improvement in commercial-loan terms | Credit is tightening in Europe, various indicators show: | Auto sales level off after 6 months of strong growth
May 2, 2012
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Manufacturing growth accelerates to fastest rate since June
A flood of orders at factories drove the pace of expansion in the manufacturing sector last month to its highest rate in almost a year, according to the Institute for Supply Management. The trade group said its factory index increased to 54.8 in April, well above the most optimistic forecast. Bloomberg (5/1), The Christian Science Monitor/Paper Economy blog (5/1)
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Fed survey shows improvement in commercial-loan terms
Banks in the U.S. eased lending criteria for commercial loans last quarter for large and middle-market firms, reports the Federal Reserve's Senior Loan Officer Survey on Bank Lending Practices. Banks reported cutting the spread over cost of funds charged to borrowers, and 32% said they scaled back use of interest-rate floors. CFO.com (4/30)
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Credit is tightening in Europe, various indicators show:
Credit is becoming scarce in Europe, according to various indicators. Dealogic reports that lenders issued $24.9 billion in syndicated facilities to European borrowers in April, 73.5% less than April 2011. The Federal Reserve's quarterly senior loan officer survey reported that foreign banks tightened lending standards for the third consecutive quarter. The Wall Street Journal/CFO Journal/CFO Report blog (5/1)
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Auto sales level off after 6 months of strong growth
Vehicle sales increased 2.3% last month compared with April 2011, after a rebound that lasted six months. Industry analysts said they expect the slowdown to be temporary, caused partially by a quirk in the calendar. April was only the third month in a decade that had three fewer selling days than the same month a year earlier. Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model) (5/2), Detroit Free Press (5/1)
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A&A Report
Delaying U.K. standards will lead to new costs, firms say
Ernst & Young and Grant Thornton urged the Accounting Standards Board in the U.K. not to delay implementation of reporting changes. This was in response to a consultation that ASB issued January on draft proposals to alter financial reporting requirements. Delay could lead to substantial costs for companies that have prepared for the proposed change, they said. Accountancy Age (London) (tiered subscription model) (5/2)
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Accounting firms help foreign banks comply with FATCA
Accounting firms are helping foreign financial institutions comply with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, which goes into effect in 2014. Accounting firms prominently display FATCA sections on their websites as foreign banks look to accountants and outside consultants to guide them through the new tax rules. The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model)/Corruption Currents blog (5/1)
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Tax Spotlight
States are preparing to close estate-tax loopholes
Michael Kitces writes about how individuals have been able to take advantage of the federal gift tax exemption to avoid estate taxes in some states. The high federal exemption under the Tax Relief Act of 2010 has allowed wealthy individuals to give away assets that would otherwise exceed state estate-tax exemptions. Currently, only a few states have taken steps to enact rules to prevent such arrangements. It remains to be seen how long that opportunity will exist, Kitces writes. Financial-Planning.com (4/30)
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Market Update
Global investors reduce holdings of eurozone bonds
Surveys of 55 top investment houses in Continental Europe, the U.K., Japan and the U.S. found that holdings of eurozone bonds fell last month to the lowest level in more than a year. Investors are increasing holdings of Japanese and U.K. bonds, according to the polls. Concerns about upcoming elections are expected to add to the shift. "Elections in the euro area may spark renewed political uncertainty amid the euro debt crisis," said Giordano Lombardo, group chief investment officer at Pioneer Investments. Reuters (5/1)
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Policy & Regulatory
Fed won't likely need to provide more stimulus, Williams says
John Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, said the central bank could provide additional stimulus if the unemployment rate "got stuck," but he doesn't expect such circumstances. Speaking on a panel at the Milken Institute Global Conference, Williams also said the Fed will not allow inflation to become a problem. The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model)/Dow Jones Newswires (5/1)
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Fannie hid benefits of reducing mortgages, lawmakers say
Fannie Mae concluded years ago that it could substantially reduce losses by cutting the principal of some loans to borrowers in financial trouble, but it kept the finding secret, said U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the senior Democrat on the House committee that oversees the agency. Cummings and Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., said in a letter that they learned of the finding from documents provided by a former Fannie Mae employee. The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (5/1), MSNBC/Economy Watch blog (5/1)
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Bankers encouraged to report concerns about bonus-rule compliance
The Financial Stability Board established the Bilateral Complaint Handling Process to deal with bankers' complaints that competitors are failing to comply with Group of 20 rules on bankers' bonuses. G-20 leaders agreed to restrict bankers' pay, and the FSB monitors application of those rules. The FSB said a grievance must be backed by "detailed evidence." Reuters (5/1)
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International View
European Central Bank's crisis-fighting efforts might undermine euro
Experts are concerned that the European Central Bank's efforts to curb the sovereign-debt crisis will instead undermine the euro. Some European governments have started to rely more on domestic financial institutions to buy their bonds. The situation is loosening ties that bind eurozone members' fate to one another. "As the local bond markets have become owned only by domestic institutions, there is less and less incentive for the other countries to support and bail out one of those," said Stephane Monier, head of fixed income and currencies at Lombard Odier Investment Managers. "Basically, you're planting the seeds for the disintegration of the eurozone." Bloomberg Businessweek (5/1)
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Leadership & Trends
Volunteers play a crucial role in the U.S. Uniform CPA Exam
Volunteers play a key role in ensuring the U.S. Uniform CPA Exam is of high quality. More than 75 volunteers, representing large and small firms, education, government and non-profit sectors, work with AICPA's professional staff and serve as members of the Board of Examiners and its subcommittees. Wendy Perez, CPA and current chair of the Board of Examiners, explains that the role between the volunteers and the AICPA is highly collaborative. "Everyone has the quality of the exam as their ultimate goal, thus the collaboration is very smooth and the best result is always attained," she says. AICPA Insights (5/1)
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Other News
CGMA report provides guidance for transforming the finance organization
The CGMA report, From ledgers to leadership: A journey through the finance function, analyzes some of the structural changes taking place across the different finance service areas. The report, based on global research from 2008 to 2011 with input from over 7,000 finance and senior managers, highlights the expectations surrounding increasing finance staff across all finance services and discusses the impact of recent trends on the skills and competencies required to meet organizational strategic objectives. The research and subsequent report cites technical accounting skills as a foundation and preference for the professional finance qualification. However, the report also identifies areas for improvement and further development.
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Judgment is more than skill. It sets forth on intellectual seas beyond the shores of hard indisputable factual information.
Kingman Brewster Jr.,
American educator and diplomat
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The American Institute of CPAs is the world’s largest member association representing the accounting profession, with more than 400,000 members in 145 countries, and a history of serving the public interest since 1887. AICPA members represent many areas of practice, including business and industry, public practice, government, education and consulting. The AICPA sets ethical standards for the profession and U.S. auditing standards for private companies, nonprofit organizations and federal, state and local governments. It develops and grades the Uniform CPA Examination, and offers specialty credentials for CPAs who concentrate on personal financial planning; forensic accounting; business valuation; and information management and technology assurance. Through a joint venture with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, it has established the Chartered Global Management Accountant designation, which sets a new standard for global recognition of management accounting.
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