A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from November 04, 2011
Window Dressing

Financial “window dressing” occurs when money managers try to improve their performance at the end of a quarter or year, so that financial statements look better. Some “window dressing” accounting may be unethical and illegal.

“Window dressing” has been cited in print since at least 1896.

Wiktionary: window dressing
Alternative forms
window dressing
(usually uncountable; plural window dressings)
1.The decorative display of retail merchandise in store windows
2.The goods and trimmings used in such display
3.(idiomatic, uncountable) A means of creating a deceptively favourable impression of something or someone; something for appearance only.

What Does Window Dressing Mean?
A strategy used by mutual fund and portfolio managers near the year or quarter end to improve the appearance of the portfolio/fund performance before presenting it to clients or shareholders. To window dress, the fund manager will sell stocks with large losses and purchase high flying stocks near the end of the quarter. These securities are then reported as part of the fund’s holdings.

Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary
window dressing noun
1: the display of merchandise in a retail store window
2a : the act or an instance of making something appear deceptively attractive or favorable b : something used to create a deceptively favorable or attractive impression

(Oxford English Dictionary)
window-dressing n.  †(a) the fittings and ornaments of a window; (b) the dressing (dress v. 8) of a window with goods attractively displayed; (c) fig. a display made in such a manner as to give a falsely favourable impression of the facts; esp. the arrangement of a balance-sheet so as to suggest that the business concerned is more prosperous than it is.
1898 Westm. Gaz. 24 Sept. 6/1 [The finances of Chili] are‥in a chaotic state despite all the elegant window-dressing.
1909 Westm. Gaz. 9 Mar. 2/1 The promise of high duties against other countries deceives nobody: it is only political window-dressing.

1 September 1896, London Daily Mail, “Americans Good—Other Stocks Weak,” pg. 2, col. 3:
Money was in rather a jumpy condition. In the morning it was a good deal wanted, owing to Bank calls in anticipation of the usual window dressing at the end of the month, ...

1 December 1896, London Daily Mail, “Kaffirs Weak Again,” pg. 2, col. 2:
The Consol Settlement to-morrow may have a stiffening effect, but considering that this is the last day of the month, and the bankers are presumably engaged in window dressing, there is little room for surprise that money should have been wanted.

29 March 1897, London Daily Mail, “General Dwindling,” pg. 2, col. 3:
Next week there will, of course, be the usual window dressing on the part of bankers and others, which will create a condition of stringency until March 31.

30 May 1899, Oregonian (Portland, OR), “The Cuban Debt: Spanish Government Preparing to Repudiate,” pg. 13:
It will be a hard week, because stock exchange payday and bank balance sheet window dressing day are the same, but the Bank of England will supply all comers at 30, and only bulls of kangaroo shares will have to pay from 15 to 30 per cent.

OCLC WorldCat record
Present-day banking : its methods, tendencies and characteristics
Author: Francis Edward Steele
Publisher: London : Butterworth, 1909.
Edition/Format:  eBook : Document : English
Contents: Competition in banking.--"Window-dressing" and gold reserves

OCLC WorldCat record
Published balance sheets and window dressing...based on articles appearing in the Accountants’ journal.
Author: Lawrence Robert Dicksee
Publisher: London, Gee, 1927.
Edition/Format:  Book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Banks and Banking. Accommodation Paper. Right of Receiver to Recover on “Window Dressing” Bond
Edition/Format:  Article : English
Publication: The University of Chicago Law Review, Feb., 1938, vol. 5, no. 2, p. 296-298
Database: JSTOR

OCLC WorldCat record
Note on Bank Window-Dressing
Author: F W Paish
Edition/Format:  Article : English
Publication: Economica, Nov., 1939, vol. 6, no. 24, p. 456-460
Database: JSTOR

OCLC WorldCat record
“Window Dressing” in Bank Reports : hearings before the United States House Committee on Government Operations, Subcommittee on Legal and Monetary Affairs, Eighty-Eighth Congress, first session, on Oct. 2, 1963.
Author: United States. Congress. House. Committee on Government Operations. Legal and Monetary Affairs Subcommittee.
Publisher: Washington : U.S. G.P.O., 1963.
Edition/Format:  Book : National government publication : English
Summary: Reviews Federal bank supervision practices and allegations of deceptive reporting practices by national banks.

OCLC WorldCat record
Window Dressing the Interim-Earnings Report: An Empirical Assessment for Firms Initially Going Public
Author: Clyde P Stickney
Edition/Format:  Article : English
Publication: Journal of Business, Jan., 1975, vol. 48, no. 1, p. 87-97
Database: JSTOR

OCLC WorldCat record
“Federal women’s task forces and committees : visible policy making tools or political window dressing?”
Author: Francene A Mann; Brandeis University. Dept. of Politics.
Publisher: Waltham, Mass., 1981.
Dissertation: Senior honors Thesis--Brandeis University, 1981.
Edition/Format:  Thesis/dissertation : Thesis/dissertation : English

Wall Street Journal
NOVEMBER 4, 2011
MF Global Masked Debt Risks
Firm Cut Borrowing Before Reports; Corzine Lobbied Against Trading Curbs

For the past two years, MF Global Holdings Ltd. may have disguised its debt levels to investors by temporarily slashing the debt it was carrying before publicly reporting its finances each quarter, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal.

The activity, referred to in the financial industry as “window dressing,” suggests that the troubled financial firm was shouldering more risk and using more borrowed funds to facilitate its trading than investors could easily detect from the firm’s regulatory filings.

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