Exploring Corporate Governance Around the World

By Allison Garrett, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Oklahoma Christian University

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

And You Thought FAS 5 Was Bad: 27 Levels of Likelihood

I recently ran across a handy table from PWC on the terminology used in the IFRS to describe varying levels of likelihood. The table and PWC newsletter are available here.

As it so happens, there are 27 levels of likelihood or similar concepts used in the IFRS. 27!!!! In order, they are (with thanks to PWC for compiling the list): virtually certain, no realistic alternative, highly probable, reasonably certain, substantially all, substantially enacted, highly effective, principally, significant, major part, probable, more likely, likely, may but probably will not, reasonably possible, possible, unlikely, extremely unlikely, minimal probability, sufficiently lower, insignificant, remote, extremely rare, virtually none, not genuine (highly abnormal and extremely unlikely to occur).

All of this makes you wonder how those of us in the U.S. got along under FAS 5 with the terms probable, reasonably possible and remote all these years.

I believe that it is at least "highly probable" and probably even "virtually certain" that the auditors and the lawyers will bill quite a lot for the discussions necessitated by these terms. All of the debate on the likelihood of a certain event is "extremely unlikely" to yield any real benefit to the financial statement users.

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