Expert investigates accounting fraud from all sides in new book

July 07, 2003

The recent accounting scandals that have resulted in lasting headlines in the business press and dramatic tremors from Wall Street to Washington, D.C. are the product of profound systemic failures that will be remedied only by fundamental changes in the U.S. economic system, claims J. Edward Ketz in his new book, "Hidden Financial Risk: Understanding Off-Balance Sheet Accounting." Ketz is an associate professor of accounting in Penn State's Smeal College of Business Administration.

Published by John Wiley & Sons and on shelves in July 2003, "Hidden Financial Risk" explains in detail several specific problems in the financial reporting arena, describes how the system failed to correct the problems of 2001 and 2002, and suggests a course of action for improving the situation and preventing a repeat of the recent stock market crash.

The book also shows what individual investors must do to protect their investments in a world filled with accounting and auditing fraud and reviews the accounting scandals at Boston Chicken, Waste Management, Sunbeam, Enron, Global Crossing, and Worldcom. "Hidden Financial Risk" concludes with an illuminating look at Arthur Anderson, which Ketz believes may hold the key to the industry's resuscitation despite being one of the biggest losers in the saga of recent accounting scandals.

"This is a book that well represents the skeptical, probing, and doubting spirit of the time," says John H. Biggs, former Chairman and CEO of TIAA-CREF. "It is written so that the individual investor can grasp the ideas, but will be useful for investment analysts and audit committee members who need a lively briefing in how to spot questionable accounting."

A member of the Smeal College faculty since 1981, Ketz holds a bachelor's degree in political science, a master's degree in accountancy, and a Ph.D. in business administration, all from Virginia Tech. With teaching and research focused on financial accounting and accounting ethics, he has published numerous academic and professional articles and has written seven books. Along with writing two columns about financial reporting issues for Accounting Today and, Ketz is also co-editor of Advances in Accounting Education. He has been cited in the press more than 500 times since Enron's bankruptcy and has appeared as an accounting commentator on CNNfn.

Last Updated March 19, 2009