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Saturday, 15 January 2011

Constant items under hyperinflation and low inflation

Constant items under hyperinflation

Accountants are required by the IASB to implement IAS 29 Financial Reporting in Hyperinflationary Economies during hyperinflation. The IASB considers hyperinflation to be an exceptional circumstance. Hyperinflation is defined by the IASB as a cumulative inflation rate approaching or exceeding 100% over three years, i.e. 26% annual inflation for three years in a row.


Cagan defined the other popular definition of hyperinflation. Cagan (1951) defined hyperinflation to be present when monthly inflation equals or exceed 50%. The IASB´s definition will be followed in this work.

As per IAS 29, accountants have to restate their Historical Cost or Current Cost financial statements by applying the period-end CPI during hyperinflation to make the HC or CC financial statements more useful. They have to value all non-monetary items (both variable and constant real value non-monetary items) in units of constant purchasing power by applying the CPI at the period-end date. The restated values of HC or CC financial statements in terms of IAS 29 in a hyperinflationary economy are only valid new real values when the tax authorities accept the restated values for the calculation of taxes due.

“Regarding to tax regulation, I want to emphasize that tax regulation required restatement of assets and liabilities according to inflation (in terms of IAS 29) for the date of 31.12.2003 but taxes were not taken according to restated values in 2003. In 2004, financial statements were restated and taxes were taken based on restated values.”

Cemal KÜÇÜKSÖZEN, Ph.D, Head of Accounting Standards Department, Capital Markets Board of Turkey

Difference between CIPPA and CPPA

Constant Purchasing Power Accounting (CPPA) as defined in IAS 29 [not Constant ITEM Purchasing Power Accounting (CIPPA) as authorized in the Framework (1989), Par 104 (a)] is a complete price-level inflation accounting model only to be used during very high and hyperinflation where under all non-monetary items (variable and constant real value non-monetary items) are inflation-adjusted by means of the CPI at the period-end date during hyperinflation to make financial statements more useful. Constant ITEM Purchasing Power Accounting is also a price-level accounting model, but, only constant items (not variable items) are inflation adjusted during low inflation and deflation in terms of the change in the monthly CPI. CIPPA is not an inflation accounting model to be used during very high and hyperinflation. CIPPA is the IASB´s authorized alternative to the traditional Historical Cost Accounting model during low inflation and deflation.

IAS 29 can also be used to maintain the non-monetary economy relatively stable in a hyperinflationary economy. This is only possible when all non-monetary items (variable and constant items) are valued daily at the daily parallel US Dollar (or other hard currency) exchange rate instead of simply restating HC or CC financial statements at the period-end (normally year-end) CPI rate to make them more useful as required by IAS 29. Brazilian accountants did this very successfully from 1964 to 1994 without IAS 29 (IAS 29 was approved in 1989) by valuing all non-monetary items daily in term of a daily non-monetary index based almost entirely on the US Dollar exchange rate with their currency as supplied daily by various governments during those 30 years.

The constant item economy in a hyperinflationary environment would not be completely stable as in the case of financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing power applying the CPI during low inflation. Applying the daily USD parallel rate in the valuation of all non-monetary items (constant and variable items) during hyperinflation would still result in real value destruction of constant items, but, only at a rate equal to the inflation rate in the parallel hard currency used, normally the US Dollar. If this was done in the case of Zimbabwe it would have resulted in real value destruction in constant items of about 2% per annum – a rate equal to the USD inflation rate – instead of 89,700,000,000,000,000,000,000% in case of the Zimbabwe Dollar hyperinflation rate.

Constant items during low inflation

Only continuous financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing power as approved by the IASB in the Framework for the Preparation and Presentation of Financial Statements (1989), Par 104 (a) which states the principle which is the basis for the Constant ITEM Purchasing Power Accounting model and which is applicable – by free choice – in all entities applying IFRS since there are no specific IFRS relating to capital maintenance and the valuation of specific constant items, would enable accountants to automatically maintain the real value of all income statement and balance sheet constant items constant in the constant item economy for an indefinite period of time. This would be possible in all entities that at least break even during low inflation and deflation whether they own revaluable fixed assets or not and without requiring extra money for additional capital contributions or additional retained profits just to maintain the constant real value of existing constant items (e.g. shareholders´ equity) constant forever – all else being equal. The Constant ITEM Purchasing Power Accounting model is the only accounting model authorized in IFRS that automatically maintains the real value of all constant items constant forever as qualified above. There is no other way to do this automatically during low inflation and deflation.

The real value of equity (a constant item) is decreased when an entity makes a loss whether it applies financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing power or not.



Automatically maintaining the real value of all constant items constant - as stated above - in the economy is not possible, at present, while accountants implement the generally accepted traditional HCA model under which they apply the very erosive stable measuring unit assumption also authorized by the IASB in the Framework, Par 104 (a) in 1989. Implementing the HCA model unnecessarily, unknowingly and unintentionally erodes real value on a significant scale in the constant item economy when accountants measure financial capital maintenance in nominal monetary units in entities with insufficient revaluable fixed assets. This unnecessary, unknowing and unintentional erosion in the real value of constant items not fully or never maintained amounts to hundreds of billions of USD per annum in the world economy for as long as accountants choose to implement very erosive financial capital maintenance in nominal monetary units during inflation. When they freely choose to measure financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing power, also authorized by the IASB in the Framework, Par 104 (a) in 1989, they would knowingly maintain hundreds of billions of USD in existing real value per annum by not eroding existing constant item real value of, for example, retained profits, with their very erosive stable measuring unit assumption during low inflation.



The real value of equity never maintained constant with equivalent real value revaluable fixed assets under HCA can be maintained constant with continuous financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing power during low inflation and deflation under IFRS in entities that at least break even, but, not under HCA. The HC model is also authorized under IFRS. Both the erosion and the maintenance of the existing real value of equity never maintained and all other constant items never maintained during low inflation are, paradoxically, authorized under IFRS. Accountants are free to choose the one or the other. Both are compliant with IFRS.

The specific choice of continuously measuring financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing power (the Constant ITEM Purchasing Power Accounting model) at all levels of inflation and deflation as contained in the Framework for the Preparation and Presentation of Financial Statements Par 104 (a), was approved by the International Accounting Standards Board’s predecessor body, the International Accounting Standards Committee Board, in April 1989 for publication in July 1989 and adopted by the IASB in April 2001.

“In the absence of a Standard or an Interpretation that specifically applies to a transaction, management must use its judgement in developing and applying an accounting policy that results in information that is relevant and reliable. In making that judgement, IAS 8.11 requires management to consider the definitions, recognition criteria, and measurement concepts for assets, liabilities, income, and expenses in the Framework. This elevation of the importance of the Framework was added in the 2003 revisions to IAS Plus, Deloitte. Date: 21st March, 2010 http://www.iasplus.com/standard/framewk.htm

There are no applicable IFRS or Interpretations regarding the valuation of the constant real value non-monetary items issued share capital, retained earnings, capital reserves, share premium, share discount, the concepts of capital, the capital maintenance concepts, the determination of profit/loss concept, etc. The measurement concepts and direct and indirect definitions of these items in the Framework are thus applicable as per IAS8.11. There are Standards relating to the constant items trade debtors, trade creditors, other non-monetary payables, other non-monetary receivables, deferred tax assets, deferred tax liabilities, taxes payable and taxes receivable. In terms of IAS 8.11 the Standards take precedence over the Framework in the case of these items.

Nicolaas Smith

Copyright (c) 2005-2011 Nicolaas J Smith. All rights reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Fin24 29-3-11