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Thursday, 6 August 2009

The Investor and the Real Value Accountant

Port Elizabeth Coat of Arms


Investor said:

"They will not create new real value out of nothing by just passing some accounting entries. They will boost the SA real economy BY NOT DESTROYING EXISTING REAL VALUE"
I don't get it? how do book keeping entries not destroy wealth. I ddon't get the connection at all. Please explain in lay man's terms so I can follow the mechanics.

Real Value Accountant said:

Hi Investor,

How is my beloved PE? Still windy? I see on Google Earth that Sardinia Bay is still the same. Theesecombe (where I grew up) and Kragga Kamma have changed a bit. So has Lorraine. Where do you stay in PE? Did you go to UPE? Which schools did you attend?

Your questions:

Let me start off by saying that I did not invent financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing power. The International Accounting Standards Board formulated it in 1989 in the Framework, Par. 104 (a) and other paragraphs in the Framework.

How do bookkeeping entries not destroy value – in lay man’s terms?

As follows:

Let´s start with your salary. Your salary is an income statement constant item as opposed to a balance sheet constant item.

Bookkeeping is double entry; that is, for every debit there is a credit.

Dr Salaries R20 000
Cr Salaries payable R20 000

Your salary in Year 1.

Inflation 6.9%

Entries for Year 2

Dr Salaries (R20 000 X 1.069) R21 380
Cr Salaries payable R21 380

Your salary was updated at 6.9% from R20 000 to R21 380. In real value it is exactly the same thing. You got no increase. Simply an inflation-adjustment of your basic salary.

Your salary was inflation-adjusted because it´s real value was measured in units of constant purchasing power as all salaries are world wide.

Bookkeeping entries in Year 2 – the inflation-adjusted values – means the real value of your salary was NOT destroyed.

If your salary was NOT updated in Year 2 and you were still paid R20 000 you will agree that the real value of your salary would have been destroyed by 6.9%.

Not because of inflation, but because your accountant measured the real value of your salary in nominal monetary units or at historical cost. Your accountant applied the stable measuring unit assumption and assumed, just for the purpose of valuing your salary, that there was no such thing as inflation. He or she assumed that the Rand was perfectly stable. So it is his or her selection of the historical cost measurement basis that destroyed the real value of your salary.

Your accountant can also, as they all actually do, measure the real value of your salary in units of constant purchasing power and maintain its real value no matter what the rate of inflation is. So it is not inflation that is destroying your salary when it is not updated, but the measuring basis your accountant chooses.

World wide all accountants select the historical cost accounting model, BUT, they value salaries, NOT at historical cost, but in units of constant purchasing power.

However, they do NOT value retained profits, which is also a constant item, in units of constant purchasing power, like they do with your salary. All of them value retained profits during low inflation at historical cost.

So, you know that they destroy retained profits´ real value at a rate equal to the inflation rate exactly as they would have done with your salary if they had not inflation-adjusted it in Year 2.

Bookkeeping for Retained Profits

Year 1

Retained Profits R 40.665 billion (ABSA´s balance at 31.12.08)

Year 2

Retained Profits R40.665 billion (That 31.12.08 value in ABSA´s books carried forward to 31.12.09) under historical cost accounting.

Real value destroyed by ABSA´s board of director´s decision to implement the historical cost accounting model:

R40.665 x 0.069 (if inflation stays at 6.9 % for the whole of 2009) = R 2.806 billion

So, when ABSA´s board decides to select financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing power as the IASB authorized them to do in the Framework, Par. 104 (a) twenty year ago, the entries will be as follows:

ABSA 31.12.2008

Retained Profits R40.665 billion

ABSA 31.12.2009

Retained Profits R43.471 billion

You will ask: where does that value come from. It is not new value. It is simple existing real value maintained by inflation-adjusting the real value.

But, you will say: accounting is double entry.

Yes, you are right.

Let us assume ABSA´s balance sheet is as follows:

ABSA at 31.12.2008 under their current Historical Cost Accounting model as selected by their current board of directors.

Assets Liabilities

Trade Debtors R40.665 billion Retained Profits R40.665 billion

Nothing changes during the whole of 2009

ABSA at 31.12.2009 under their current Historical Cost Accounting model as selected by their current board of directors.

Assets Liabilities

Trade Debtors R40.665 billion Retained Profits R40.665 billion

Everything stays exactly the same.

We all know that everything did not stay exactly the same. We all know that that R40.665 billion in Retained profits and R40.665 billion in Trade Debtors are not the same in real value after a year of 6.9% inflation.

But, that is how things are done. So, that´s it then. SA accountants destroy R200 billion per annum in this way.

Their auditors will sign the above accounts off as fairly representing the ABSA business with accounts drawn up on the historical cost basis and compliant with IFRS.

If ABSA´s board of directors suddenly wakes up to the billions of real value they are destroying year after year (or if the SA government forces them to stop the real value destruction), they will select to measure financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing power in terms of the Framework, Par. 104 (a) which is fully complaint with IFRS.

Their accounts will then be as follows:


ABSA at 31.12.2008 under Constant Item Purchasing Power Accounting

Assets Liabilities

Trade Debtors R40.665 billion Retained Profits R40.665 billion

Nothing changes during the whole of 2009 except that inflation for the whole year was 6.9%.


ABSA at 31.12.2008 under Constant Item Purchasing Power Accounting

Assets Liabilities

Trade Debtors R43.471 billion Retained Profits R43.471 billion


Their auditors will sign the above accounts off as fairly representing the ABSA business with accounts drawn up on the Constant Item Purchasing Power Accounting basis and compliant with IFRS.

So, you can see that ABSA under current historical cost accounting lost R2.806 billion by not updating their Trade Debtors and their Retained Profits as they should have.

This loss is not stated anywhere. It just happens - like the loss in the real value of the Rand.

Under historical cost accounting during low inflation, the net monetary loss caused by inflation in the real value of the Rand is not stated anywhere.

But, lo and behold: let SA get into hyperinflation which is 26% inflation for 3 years in a row, and suddenly: hey presto: net monetary loss will appear in all financial reports and constant purchasing power accounting everywhere.



But, only during hyperinflation. Out of hyperinflation and all SA accountants will state that there is no such thing as a net monetary loss.

What a joke accounting seems to be. Anything goes, as long as everyone is doing it.

Nobody has much faith in economists after the last financial crisis.

Imagine what this is going to do to the image of accountants. They are killing the real economy left, right and centre. All of them, everywhere. The least damage would be done if accountants admit the Historical Cost Mistake quickly and then ban Historical Cost Accounting.

If the SA government can grasp the amount of real value destroyed by SA accountants in the SA real economy each and every year, they should ban Historical Cost Accounting in SA.

Their auditors will sign the above accounts off as fairly representing the ABSA business with accounts drawn up on the Constant Item Purchasing Power Accounting basis and compliant with IFRS.



Investor, I hope you understand the above.

Give my regards to all in PE,

Nicolaas Smith