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  • Company accounts公司账目Truthful top lines真实的头条New global rules aim to make it harder for firms to fib about their revenues新的国际规则致力于让公司收入造假变得更加艰难WHEN companies should recognise revenues on their books is one of the most contentious and consequential issues in the staid profession of accounting. For simple sales of goods the timing is usually straightforward, but in the areas of services and long-term contracts it gets murky fast. Companies may manipulate the “top line” of their accounts—their revenues—say, by booking sales they are not yet sure of (to boost their reported profits) or not booking sales that they are certain of.公司应当认识到其报表上所列载的收入项在有着固定准则的专业会计上是最容易引起争议以及一系列问题内容之一。就简单的商品销售而言,其时间的记录是简单的明了的,但是在务以及长期合同领域,记录的问题就变得模糊而复杂。公司有可能会巧妙的操纵他们账目上的“头条”—即收入—也就是说,将那些还未最终确定的订单以及那些他们肯定不会有的订单,列为收入项。In Britain the controversy surfaced again after HPs takeover of Autonomy in 2011. The American firm later took a big write-down on its purchase, blaming it in part on the British software firm having pumped up its reported revenues by counting expected subscription fees as current sales .在英国,在2011年惠普收购Autonomy之后,争议再一次的浮出水面。美国公司随后将收购的账面价值故意调低,指责英国的软件公司在一定程度上通过将预期的会员费用当成当期销售收入入账以达到通过虚增收入来美化其账目的目的。Revenue recognition is perhaps the biggest headache for investors trying to compare companies in different countries. The GAAP standard used in the ed States is Byzantine, with more than 100 different protocols for various permutations of transactions and industries, whereas the IFRS rules applied in most of the rest of the world offer only broad guidance.收入确认可能投资者试图比较公司不同的账目时最令他们头疼的事情。在美国,一般公认会计准则是拜占庭式的,这项准则针对各行各业的不同事物的之间的穿插交易制定了100多项的错综复杂的条款,与此同时世界其他地方所用的国际财务报告准则却仅仅是提供了广泛的直到。Following 12 years of consultation, on May 28th the boards that control the two accounting systems released a new joint standard they hope will put these issues to rest. Scheduled to take effect in 2017, it represents a neat middle ground, adopting the IFRSs principle of one size to fit all industries, but with GAAP-style clarity. It spells out how companies will have to break down sales contracts into their component obligations and allocate the total value among them, estimating the worth of any variable fees they expect, like performance bonuses. Firms will then recognise the revenue assigned to each individual element as it is completed.经过十二年的协商之后,在5月28日控制两个会计系统的委员会发布出了一个新的联合标准他们希望可以用来解决这些问题。这个标准计划将于2017年生效,它描绘了一个干净的中间地带,采纳了国际财务报告准则的统一标准来适应各行各业,但是会像一般公认会计原则那样清楚明了。它阐述了公司应当怎样将销售合同分解为义务的组成和并且如何将总值分配其间,如何预估他们所期望的各种可变费用诸如绩效奖金等费用的价值。公司也将承认这些已经完成的被分配到每个单元的收入。The biggest impact will be felt in industries that rely on bundled product-plus-service contracts, such as software and telecoms. In the 1990s Microsoft was accused of “cookie-jar accounting”, holding back revenue so as to recognise it during weak quarters, to smooth its reported earnings. The Securities and Exchange Commission filed an administrative action against the company that was later settled. Some rival software firms took the opposite approach, booking all the proceeds from sales immediately, even if they were required to offer support or upgrades in the future.这对于那些产品及务捆绑的行业而言影响似乎是最大的,例如软件以及电信行业。在二十世纪就是年代的时候微软公司曾因“饼干罐会计”而被指控,即隐藏收入以供于在收入较弱的季度确认来美化其账面上的收入。美国券交易委员会对于这些曾被行政裁定但最终都得以解决的公司留有底案。一些敌对的软件公司则选择了相反的途径,立即将所有的订单转化为收益,即使他们要在将来提供后续的持或者升级。Regulators responded by bringing in the highly prescriptive accounting standards that software firms rue to this day, which make it hard to offer customers tailored packages of discounts and upgrades without falling foul of the rules. The abolition of such industry-specific rules should give software firms more flexibility to negotiate contracts. Mobile-phone operators will henceforth book the stand-alone value of handsets upfront, even when they are providing these free as part of a bundled contract. Verizon, Americas largest mobile operator, estimates that under the new model its wireless divisions reported profit margin would have been six to nine percentage points higher in 2011.监管机构的反应是将高度规范的会计准则引入这个行业,这使得软件公司至今都追悔莫及,因为这使得公司很难裁定是否打包提供给客户的折扣以及升级是否有触犯规则。特定行业规则的废除能够给予软件公司最大的灵活性来谈判合同。电话运营商自此以后会将手机前期的预付费用入账为一部分独立的价值,即使当他们把这些作为免费的捆绑合同的一部分。威瑞森,美国最大的移动通信公司,估计到在新的模式下其无线业务的利润率的报告将会比2011年时高出六到九个百分点。For investors in America, the risk of switching from the rigid “rules-based” GAAP method to the IFRSs “principles-based” approach is that unscrupulous companies will enjoy more leeway to mislead them. The new system tries to compensate for this flexibility by beefing up disclosure requirements: footnotes to financial statements will have to give detailed information about sales arrangements, so that ers can assess any questionable judgment calls.对于在美国的投资者而言,从严格的以“规则为导向”的一般公认会计原则方法而转向国际财务报告准则的“原则为导向”的处理方法便是打开了风险的开关,并且这样做是不道德的,因为公司会有更多发挥的余地来用以误导投资者。新体制试图通过增强披露弥要求来补这种灵活性,财务报表附注必须披露销售安排的细节信息,以便于读者可以评估任何可疑的问题。The creation of a global rule on revenues is the biggest success yet in a decades-long effort to standardise company accounts worldwide. It may not prevent the next Enron, but it will make it easier for investors to judge companies, while helping multinationals cut compliance costs.全球收入会计准则的创立是经过数十年的努力将世界范围内的公司账目标准化的最大的成功。这并不能阻止下一个安然公司(财务作家),但这会使得投资者更加容易的评判一个公司,同时也有助于帮助跨国公司减少合规成本。 /201406/305945。
  • Blueberry, corn, lemon poppy seed!蓝莓,玉米,柠檬罂粟籽!Muffins come in severalscrumptious varieties and are simple to make, but there are pitfalls to avoid.松饼美味且形式多样,易于制作,但是仍需避免一些小误区。What makes the difference between a lofty, delicate muffin and a flat, rubbery lump?那么,松软美味的松饼与扁平坚硬的松饼有什么区别呢?The secret to muffin making is not to stir the batter too much. Why?松饼制作的秘密是不要过度搅动调和好的面糊。为什么呢?Once flour is mixed with wet ingredients, strands of gluten protein in the flour stretch out and linkup with other protein molecules.当面粉与含水分的成分调和时,面粉里的面筋蛋白开始伸展并与其他蛋白分子发生作用衔接起来。The more you mix, the stronger this gluten matrix becomes.你越是搅拌,面筋结合得越紧。Fora dense, chewy bagel, a strong matrix is just right. But with muffins, the texture should be moredelicate.对于有嚼头的硬面包,强劲结合的面筋没什么问题。但是对于松饼来说,质地应该精细一些。Muffin recipes are designed to create a delicate gluten matrix by minimizing stirring time.松饼的秘方是减少搅拌时间,让面筋蛋白结合得更加精细。The firststep is to mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the wet in another.第一步是将干燥的成分放入一个碗内,将含水分的成分置于另一个碗内。This two-bowl procedure isnt intended to turn your kitchen upside down, but to decrease stirringtime after you combine wet and dry.分碗放置配料并非要将你的厨房搞得乱七八糟,而是为减少干料与湿料混合后的搅拌时间。Muffin recipes also say to stir the batter just until combined,leaving some lumps.松饼秘方也提到,将面糊搅拌至刚刚好,留一些疙瘩在里面。Want to see what happens with gluten in overmixed muffin batter?你想知道松饼糊搅拌过度的后果吗?Next time you make muffins,sacrifice one to science!下次当你做松饼的时候,为科学牺牲一次!Fill all but one section of the muffin tin, then stir the last bit of batterseveral minutes more.将一个松饼罐灌满,然后将剩下的糊糊多搅拌几分钟。Strands of gluten will stretch out and link up, making the batter look stringy.一股股的面筋会伸展开来并丝丝相连,让面糊看起来呈丝状。During baking, the rubbery, experimental muffin wont rise like the others.在烘烤的过程中,橡胶块般的实验松饼不会像其他松饼一样蓬松起来。Air bubbles have tofight through that tough gluten matrix, leaving long tunnels instead of little holes.水气泡很难通过牢固的面筋网,同时留下长孔而非通常情况下的小洞。Now you knowthe muffin makers secret–be gentle with gluten!现在你明白松饼制作者的秘密了吧-对面筋温柔点! /201310/260675。
  • Can animals count?动物能数数吗?People count easily, from the time we are little kids and learn our one-two-threes.数数对人类而言易如反掌,孩提时代就开始数一二三了。But what about other species?但是其它物种如何呢?Careful observations in the wild support the idea that some can.通过对于自然环境中一些物种的仔细观察发现它们真的具有这项技能。The American coot is a duck-like North American bird.美洲骨顶是一种生活在北美而且长得像野鸭的鸟类。Sometimes a coot will try and sneak one of its eggs into a neighbors nest.有时骨顶会试着把自己的蛋偷偷放到邻居的巢中。Some coots recognize the deception, and roll the strangers egg out again.有的骨顶能识破诡计,剔除这个不明来路的蛋。Others dont catch on, and raise the strangers egg as their own.而有的则丈二和尚摸不着头脑,干脆当作自己的后代抚养长大。Researcher Bruce Lyon at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his team observed a series of coot nests for four seasons, noting which birds could spot a strangers eggs and which couldnt.加利福利亚圣克鲁斯大学研究员的布鲁斯·里昂和他的团队四个季节以来一直致力于观察骨顶巢。他们记录下了哪些鸟能认出陌生的鸟蛋,哪些不能认出。Then they compared how many eggs each kind laid.然后他们比较了这些鸟各生了多少蛋。201312/268948。
  • Business商业报道Legal disclaimers合法的免责声明Spare us the e-mail yada-yada腾回我们的电邮空间Automatic e-mail footers are not just annoying.They are legally useless自动附加电子邮件页脚,真让人讨厌,法律上还没啥用呢IF THIS e-mail is received in error, notify the sender immediately.如果电邮被误收,请马上通知发件人。This e-mail does not create an attorney-client relationship.电邮没有建立代理-委托的关系。Any tax advice in this e-mail is not intended to be used for the purpose of avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code.任何关于电邮的税务咨询不是以避免国内税法处罚为目的。Many firms—The Economist included—automatically append these sorts of disclaimers to every message sent from their e-mail servers, no matter how brief and trivial the message itself might be.无论电邮的信息是多么简短和琐碎,大部分企业都会自动在电邮务器中的所有邮件中附加各式各样的免责声明。E-mail disclaimers are one of the minor nuisances of modern office life, along with fire drills, annual appraisals and colleagues who keep sneezing loudly.电邮免责声明是现代办公室生活中的小骚扰之一,其它骚扰则是火警演戏、年度评比和同事大声连续打喷嚏。Just think of all the extra waste paper generated when messages containing such waffle are printed.试想想,信息中含有多余的话句,还被打印出来了,多浪费纸张啊。They are assumed to be a wise precaution.而且,免责声明还被认为是一种明智的预防措施。But they are mostly, legally speaking, pointless.然而,从法律上说,这些声明大多是没意义的。Lawyers and experts on internet policy say no court case has ever turned on the presence or absence of such an automatic e-mail footer in America, the most litigious of rich countries.互联网政策方面的律师和专家们表示,富裕国家中最爱诉讼的美国,也还没有哪个诉案是由这种自动的电邮页脚的存在与否引起的。Many disclaimers are, in effect, seeking to impose a contractual obligation unilaterally, and thus are probably unenforceable.实际上,大部分免责声明都在争取利用单方契约义务,最终可能导致条款无法执行。This is clear in Europe,在这方面,欧洲做得非常清晰。where a directive from the European Commission tells the courts to strike out any unreasonable contractual obligation on a consumer if he has not freely negotiated it.欧洲委员会向法院下指令,要求严打针对那些不给予消费者自由谈判权利的、不合理的契约义务。And a footer stating that nothing in the e-mail should be used to break the law would be of no protection to a lawyer or financial adviser sending a message that did suggest something illegal.这些页脚声称电子邮件中没有违法内容;另外,对于律师和财务顾问而言,它们也不会有保障性,也不会发信息告知人们什么是非法的。So why are the disclaimers there?那么,免责声明是干什么用的?Company lawyers often insist on them because they see others using them.企业的律师总会坚持使用免责声明,因为他们见其它公司也在使用。As with Latin vocabulary and judges’ robes, once something has become a legal habit it has a tendency to stick.与拉丁词汇和法官的长袍一样,一旦某行为成为一种法律习惯,该行为就会被继续坚持下去。Might they at least remind people to behave sensibly?至少,这些声明可以让人们理智行动吧?Michael Overly, a lawyer for Foley amp; Lardner in Los Angeles, thinks not:洛杉矶富理达律师事务所的律师迈克尔?殴弗利可不这么认为:the proliferation of predictable yada-yada at the bottom of messages means that people have long since stopped paying any attention to it.那些在邮件信息底部的唠叨条款的扩散,意味着人们早已停止对其关注了。 /201304/235728。
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