James L. Chan

James L. ChanJames L. Chan, Professor Emeritus of Accounting at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is Distinguished Overseas Professor at Peking University and at Shandong University of Finance and Economics, China. A co-founder of the CIGAR (Comparative International Government Accounting Research) Network, Chan received two lifetime achievement/contribution awards. He is a part-time Public Financial Management Advisor for the IMF Fiscal Affairs Department, and has been a long-time consultant to the Chinese Ministry of Finance, among others. He received his PhD in Accountancy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Papers Published in World Economics:

How Accurate Are the National Balance Sheets for China?
Author: James L. Chan

The accuracy of data on China’s national balance sheets has attracted much less attention than that of the Gross Domestic Product reports. China’s Bureau of National Statistics has not released official national balance sheets, but two Chinese research teams have produced estimates for recent years. A detailed analysis of these reports by the author reveals varying degrees of discrepancies for the whole Chinese economy and its components, and for different types of assets and liabilities. The System of National Accounts was claimed by researchers as a common framework, but non-standard classifications and disclosures of assets and liabilities from diverse data sources mean that many issues must be resolved before China’s wealth can be measured accurately.

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How Much Red Ink?

Under the influence of economics, fiscal policy and government budgets focus on projected cash deficits and bonds issued to finance them. While these numbers are certainly necessary, they overlook the delayed costs of policy decisions and actions. Therefore they should be complemented by actual cash deficit, actual accrual deficit and total liability numbers. Data from the consolidated financial statements of the U.S. Government during the past decade are used to show how much a difference the lapse of time and the accrual method made to the common measures of perceived fiscal realities. It is argued that accrual accounting numbers unveil the severity and important aspects of the fiscal problems facing the United States.

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