On 1 January 2005, all stock exchange listed companies in the European Union (EU) began using International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) written by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). This article argues that the IASB's introduction of fair value accounting reflects and reinforces changed relations of production in which the financial sector increasingly dominates the productive sector, nationally institutionalized economic systems are undermined, and new forms of economic appropriation are validated. As a private body, the IASB has been able to rapidly introduce the fair value paradigm with little public debate outside specialized financial circles. In contrast to more functionalist views, this article argues that accounting standards are inherently political. Accounting numbers provide some of the key economic anchors around which social relations are structured. Accounting techniques cannot be reduced to questions of efficiency since they set out to quantify and compare things which, by their very nature, are neither quantifiable nor directly comparable. © 2006 Taylor & Francis.