Friday, December 11, 2009

The Business Cycle

Economic growth is not a steady phenomenon; rather, it tends to exhibit a pattern as follows:

1. an expansion of above-average growth

2. a peak

3. a contraction of below-average growth

4. a trough or low-point

The troughs then are followed by periods of expansion and the cycle generally repeats, though not in a regular manner. These fluctuations in economic growth are known as the business cycle and are depicted conceptually in the following diagram:

The Business Cycle

Indicators of the Business Cycle

Because the business cycle is related to aggregate economic activity, a popular indicator of the business cycle in the U.S. is the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The financial media generally considers two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth to indicate a recession. Used as such, the GDP is a quick and simple indicator of economic contractions.

However, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) weighs GDP relatively low as a primary business cycle indicator because GDP is subject to frequent revision and it is reported only on a quarterly basis (the business cycle is tracked on a monthly basis). The NBER relies primarily on indicators such as the following:

* employment
* personal income
* industrial production

Additionally, indicators such as manufacturing and trade sales are used as measures of economic activity.

Accountants and Auditors

Job Outlook

Strong growth of accountants and auditor jobs over the 2006-16 decade is expected to result from stricter accounting and auditing regulations, along with an expanding economy. The best job prospects will be for accountants and auditors who have a college degree or any certification, but especially a CPA.

Employment change.

Employment of accountants and auditors is expected to grow by 18 percent between 2006 and 2016, which is faster than the average for all occupations. This occupation will have a very large number of new jobs arise, almost 226,000 over the projections decade. An increase in the number of businesses, changing financial laws, and corporate governance regulations, and increased accountability for protecting an organization’s stakeholders will drive growth.

As the economy grows, the number of business establishments will increase, requiring more accountants and auditors to set up books, prepare taxes, and provide management advice. As these businesses grow, the volume and complexity of information reviewed by accountants and auditors regarding costs, expenditures, taxes, and internal controls will expand as well. The globalization of business also has led to more demand for accounting expertise and services related to international trade and accounting rules and international mergers and acquisitions.

An increased need for accountants and auditors also will arise from changes in legislation related to taxes, financial reporting standards, business investments, mergers, and other financial events. As a result of accounting scandals at several large corporations, Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 in an effort to curb corporate accounting fraud. This legislation requires public companies to maintain well-functioning internal controls to ensure the accuracy and reliability of their financial reporting. It also holds the company’s chief executive personally responsible for falsely reporting financial information.

These changes are expected to lead to increased scrutiny of company finances and accounting procedures and should create opportunities for accountants and auditors, particularly CPAs, to audit financial records more thoroughly. Management accountants and internal auditors increasingly will also be needed to discover and eliminate fraud before audits, and ensure that important processes and procedures are documented accurately and thoroughly. Also, efforts to make government agencies more efficient and accountable will increase demand for government accountants.

Increased focus on and numbers of financial crimes such as embezzlement, bribery, and securities fraud will increase the demand for forensic accountants to detect illegal financial activity by individuals, companies, and organized crime rings. Computer technology has made these crimes easier to commit, and they are on the rise. At the same time, the development of new computer software and electronic surveillance technology has made tracking down financial criminals easier, thus increasing the ease, and likelihood of, discovery. As success rates of investigations grow, demand for forensic accountants will increase.

The changing role of accountants and auditors also will spur job growth, although this will be slower than in the past because of changes in the law. Federal legislation now prohibits accountants from providing many types of management and consulting services to clients whose books they audit. However, accountants will still be able to advise clients that are not publicly traded companies and those they do not audit.

Also, the increasing popularity of tax preparation firms and computer software will shift accountants away from tax preparation. As computer programs continue to simplify some accounting-related tasks, clerical staff will increasingly handle many routine calculations.

Job prospects.

Overall, job opportunities for accountants and auditors should be favorable. Those who earn a CPA should have excellent job prospects. After most States instituted the 150-hour rule for CPAs, enrollment in accounting programs declined. However, enrollment is again growing as more students have become attracted to the profession by the attention from the accounting scandals.

In the aftermath of the accounting scandals, professional certification is even more important to ensure that accountants’ credentials and knowledge of ethics are sound. Regardless of specialty, accountants and auditors who have earned professional recognition through certification or licensure should have the best job prospects. Applicants with a master’s degree in accounting or a master’s degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting also will have an advantage.

Individuals who are proficient in accounting and auditing computer software or have expertise in specialized areas—such as international business, specific industries, or current legislation—may have an advantage in getting some accounting and auditing jobs. In addition, employers increasingly seek applicants with strong interpersonal and communication skills. Many accountants work on teams with others who have different backgrounds, so they must be able to communicate accounting and financial information clearly and concisely. Regardless of qualifications, however, competition will remain keen for the most prestigious jobs in major accounting and business firms.

In addition to openings from job growth, the need to replace accountants and auditors who retire or transfer to other occupations will produce numerous job openings in this large occupation.

What is Petty Cash ??

Petty cash refers to small amounts of cash kept on hand in a business.

(The term "petty" comes from "petite," or "small.")

There are two reasons to keep petty cash:

To make change for customers or patients, and

To pay for small purchases which require cash, such as food for the office lunch or coffee supplies, or for parking. Most retail businesses keep a cash drawer as do health care practices.