Editorial: Investors and reserves

Once again, accounting and nature collide. This time, the wreck occurs in a regulatory climate made volatile by recent scandals of corporate governance.Royal Dutch/Shell Group is no Enron Corp. Its Jan. 9 reclassification of oil and gas reserves is no scandal. Distinguishing Shell's action from the deliberate deceptions of some other companies is the first step toward understanding and maybe one day resolving a longstanding dilemma.Role of uncertaintyInvestors detest uncertainty. Yet little in business can be more uncertain than quantifying an event crucial to oil and gas companies: changes in oil and gas reserves. The discipline of accounting limits uncertainty reasonably well, when ...

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