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It is true that professional reputations are not what they once were, that self-regulation of standards of competence has often been inadequate, that professions’ ethical standards have declined generally. But it is also striking that such decline is most noticeable in the areas of law and accountancy closest to financial services.
What are the similarities, and the differences, between the uses and needs of accounting in the public and private sectors?
For fundamentalists, the value of an asset is the sum of the returns it will yield over its life. For fellow travellers, an asset is worth what someone else is willing to pay for it.
Private equity promoters propose layer upon layer of debt, leveraged by non-recourse finance. But the same finance theory also tells us that you do not increase the value of an investment portfolio by increasing gearing.
In all areas of human endeavour, there are hard data and soft data. The happiness of a society or the progress of a civilisation, are multi-dimensional: components are determined by subjective consensus, not objective measurement.