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Accounting for the Coronavirus

This article examines challenges facing accountants due to economic and financial stress increasing at the same time that oversight may be relaxing, provides insight into the question of whether we should expect a rise in accounting manipulations, and concludes with comments on mitigating hindsight bias.

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The economic shutdown resulting from the responses to the global coronavirus pandemic has disrupted all manner of business relationships governed by contracts. This has brought into sharp focus the critical governance role that accounting numbers play in many business transactions. In particular, they constitute a kind of “scorecard” for compliance with the terms of numerous types of contracts and agreements, such as debt contracts, supplier agreements, operating agreements, incentive compensation agreements, merger earnouts, and sales commission agreements.

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