Publication Details

Zhang, Y. (2011). Accounting and Neoliberalism: A Critical Reading of IASB/FASB's Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting 2010. Critical Perspectives on Accounting Conference 2011 (pp. 1-22). Clearwater Beach, Florida, USA: Elsevier.


This paper explores the influence of neoliberal free market ideology on the accounting standard setting by using IASB/FASB’s Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting 2010 as an example. By positioning the analysis in broader literature of neoliberalism and financialisation, this paper reveals the bias underlying the conceptual framework that promotes the interest of neoliberal financiers and its potential social impacts. This paper argues that the changes that take place in the joint project serve to strengthen the beliefs in the neoliberal markets and favours a very small group of users over the ‘public interest’ consideration of financial reporting. As unfolded through the effects of reporting Comprehensive Income and Fair Value Accounting saturated into financial statements, not only is accounting insufficiently alert to the speculative characteristics of financial markets, but it also seems to legitimise more ‘estimations’ into the system pushing further risk taking behaviour within the neoliberal markets. By exposing these biases and the possible damages, this paper provides some fundamental thinking on the neoliberal financialisation and its implications on this joint effort of globalising accounting regulations, namely, the IFRS and the US GAAP. It aims to enable more critical awareness about possible damages of applying neoliberal theory and rhetoric within an accounting context. It is shown that the arguments for a free market present actually wonderful sounding words to hide grim realities of the shift in the role financial capital plays in human societies.