Brockman Guitar Company is in the business of manufacturing top-quality, steel-string folk guitars. In recent years the company has experienced working capital problems resulting from the procurement of factory equipment, the unanticipated buildup of receivables and inventories, and the payoff of a balloon mortgage on a new manufacturing facility. The founder and president of the company, Barbara Brockman, has attempted to raise cash from various financial institutions, but to no avail because of the company’s poor performance in recent years. In particular, the company’s lead bank, First Financial, is especially concerned about Brockman’s inability to maintain a positive cash position. The commercial loan officer from First Financial told Barbara, “I can’t even consider your request for capital financing unless I see that your company is able to generate positive cash flows from operations.” Thinking about the banker’s comment, Barbara came up with what she believes is a good plan: With a more attractive statement of cash flows, the bank might be willing to provide long-term financing. To “window dress” cash flows, the company can sell its accounts receivables to factors and liquidate its raw materials inventories. These rather costly transactions would generate lots of cash. As the chief accountant for Brockman Guitar, it is your job to tell Barbara what you think of her plan. Answer the following questions. (a) What are the ethical issues related to Barbara Brockman’s idea? (b) What would you tell Barbara Brockman?
(a) It is true that selling current assets, such as receivables and notes to factors, will generate cash flows for the company, but this practice does not cure the systemic cash problems for the organization. In short, it may be a bad business practice to liquidate assets, incurring expenses and losses, in order to “window dress” the cash flow statement. The ethical implications are that Brockman creates a short-term cash flow at the...
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