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Monday, 18 January 2010

Accountants value everything they account

Accountants value everything they account


"The debate concerning whether value accounting or price-level accounting should prevail is not on point, because in the long run both should prevail."


Harvey Kapnick, Chairman, Arthur Andersen & Company, “Value Based Accounting – Evolution or Revolution”, Sax Lecture, 1976.

"Accounting is a measurement instrument."

David Mosso, Ex Member of the US Financial Accounting Standards Board

Economic items have economic value. Accountants deal with economic items all the time. They deal with economic values when they account economic items and prepare financial reports. Accountants value economic items when they account economic transactions and events. Financial reporting does not simply report on what took place. Accountants are not just scorekeepers of what happened in the past. Accountants value everything they account in the economy.

Many accountants still think that accounting is just a recording exercise during which they merely record past economic activity. That is not correct. Accountants value economic items when they account them. Accounting is the continuous maintenance of the constant purchasing power of capital and the provision of continuously updated decision-useful financial information about the reporting entity to capital providers and other users. It involves the valuing, recording, classifying, summarizing and reporting of an entity’s economic activity.

Accounting for inflation

In response to a letter to the editor of the Financial Mail, Accounting for Inflation published on 9th May, 2008 in which I stated:

“SA accountants freely destroy real value in the real economy with their assumption that the rand is perfectly stable only for the purpose of accounting constant value items, and have absolutely no concern about the negative impact this has on sustainable economic growth.”

The IASB is dead right that financial capital maintenance can be measured in units of constant purchasing power during low inflation, hyperinflation and deflation. The IASB has my vote.
The statements that HC financial reporting does not destroy wealth and that there is no substance in my suggestion that value destruction would end if SA accountants abandon the stable measuring unit assumption have no substance as can be unequivocally proven in the case of SA banks´ and companies´ shareholders equity values never maintained in SA´s low inflationary economy.

The real values of SA banks´ and companies´ shareholders´ equity are unnecessarily, unknowingly and unintentionally being destroyed by their accountants at a rate equal to the annual rate of inflation when their boards of directors choose to apply the stable measuring unit assumption (one of the two very popular accounting fallacies authorized by the IASB) for an unlimited period of time during indefinite inflation when these entities do not own sufficient fixed assets that are or can be revalued via the Revaluation Reserve to compensate for the real value shortfall in these items under the HCA model.

Copyright © 2005 - 2010 Nicolaas J Smith