Accounting firms and auditors play a critical role in delivering transparency to capital allocation decisions involving public corporations. Although the source of financial information is the company itself, a public company in the US is required under federal securities laws to retain an independent accounting firm to audit its accounts and to certify that the company’s financial statements “present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the company in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles applied in the United States of America”. This chapter traces the evolution of the accounting industry, how the accounting profession operated in the late 20th century, leading to its virtual collapse in the early 2000s, and the regulatory reforms and measures aimed at assuring its recovery.
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