The implied assumption in the article and in the commentary indicates a deliberate misdirection or a simple understanding of the accounting principles involved in how a business accounts for a BAD DECISION. Every business has the ability to use this 'loophole'. But it's not a 'loophole'. It's a simple recognition that a capital purchase that turns out to not be a good deal should have the loss (cost of the purchase price minus the fair market value of the asset) amortized over the book life of the asset against the income produced by the asset.
Kids, this is basic accounting 301 (Intermediate management accounting).
If it were basic accounting 301, then you would have learned that "goodwill" does not equate to the purchase price minus the "fair market value" of the asset. Goodwill represents the "fair market value" of the asset minus the value of the tangible assets -- the inventory, machinery, real estate, etc. that can be quantitatively and qualitatively priced by sales or marking to a known market.
If you were to purchase the Coca-Cola corportion, then you would be spending an enormous amount on "goodwill." That is because the value of the trade secret for the formulation of Coca-Cola, the value of the brand recognition for Coca-Cola, and the value of the bottler network relationships are all intangible assets that do not have a concrete or easily ascertainable value. A significant part of the value of Coca-Cola lies not in the value of the HQ building (real estate), the office computers, lab, and pilot plant equipment (you don't think the actual corporation owns very many bottling lines and delivery trucks, do you?), but in the value of being Coca-Cola and not Royal Crown Cola.
That's goodwill. You didn't necessarily make a bad decision buying Coca Cola because you didn't buy it for the price of RC Cola, you paid for intangibles that contributed to the medium term P/E ratio (or similar metric) that you actually used to detemine the price tha you were willing to pay. If you try to pack that value into the tangible assets of the corporation, which depreciate over time and must be replaced (note, also over much shorter depreciation scales), then you end up with silly values that are way above market. If you offer a price only based on "real" values of the physical assets, the seller is going to tell you to take a long walk off a short pier.
The difference between (1) the price of the tangible assets and (2) the price the buyer is willing to pay and the seller is willing to accept, i.e., the very definition of a "fair market value," is the value of the intangible assets. Some of those you can estimate a value for, if need be, but frequently they are all lumped together as "goodwill." Sure you can overpay and make a bad decision, but that's because you eff'ed up the value of the revenue stream you could generate versus the cost of the debt you took on(or the opportunity cost of the money you took out of whatever other investment you shifted out of to) to buy it, not simply because you spent money on goodwill.
A guy who does M&A work