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Word Count: 3,242
Introduction I should be guilty of dissembling if I were not to refer to the economic difficulties which have affected Japan recently along with several other countries I assume that these difficulties have come as a shock to people in Japan because of their contrast with the prolonged period of economic success which preceded them But they show as history has shown so often that the enjoyment of steady uninterrupted growth over the very long term is beyond the capacity of nations Every country no matter how successful seems bound to experience setbacks The history of the changing wealth of nations is the subject for a different speech by a different speaker But accounting has a part to play an important part because of its role in making markets work effectively And this is very much the subject for this speech and this speaker The Value of Accounting Standards Today the central focus of accounting is surely the measurement of business performance Over the last 200 years or so the broad trend of economic development has been towards specialisation large scale production enabled by increasing domestic and international trade Large scale production has depended on the growth of capital markets Hence although other purposes remain important the modern focus of accounting has come to be to serve the capital markets to make those markets work efficiently This process is not finished in any country of the world much less internationally I want to emphasise the importance of this purpose of accounting People who provide capital do so for a return and they wish to have reports of performance to help them decide how much to invest in particular businesses and on what terms They wish performance to be reported in a manner which helps them to assess future prospects Investors generally dislike risk The higher they perceive the risk to be the higher the return they seek
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