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Monday, 27 June 2011

Net monetary gains and losses

Net monetary gains and losses

Entities with net monetary item assets (weighted average of monetary item assets greater than weighted average of monetary item liabilities) over a period of time, e.g. a year, will suffer a net monetary loss (less real monetary item value owned/more real monetary item value – real monetary item assets – eroded) during inflation – all else being equal. Companies with net monetary item liabilities (weighted average of monetary item liabilities greater than the weighted average of monetary item assets) will experience a net monetary gain (less real monetary item value owed/more real monetary item liabilities eroded) during inflation – ceteris paribus. The opposite is true during deflation.
Net monetary gains and losses are calculated and accounted during hyperinflation as required by IAS 29 Financial Reporting in Hyperinflationary Economies. The calculation and accounting of net monetary gains and losses have also been authorized in IFRS with the measurement of financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing power in the original Framework (1989), Par 104 (a) during low inflation and deflation, i.e. under the Constant Item Purchasing Power Accounting model. Net monetary gains and losses are not required to be computed under the traditional Historical Cost Accounting model although it can be done.

“Computing the gains or losses from holding monetary items can be done and the information disclosed when the books are maintained on a historical–cost basis.”

Harvey Kapnick, Chairman of Arthur Anderson & Company, Value based accounting: Evolution or revolution, Saxe Lecture, 1976, Page 6.  

Net monetary gains and losses are constant real value non–monetary items once they are accounted in the income statement. All items accounted in the income statement are constant real value non–monetary items.

This omission under the Historical Cost paradigm to compute the gains and losses from holding monetary items is one of the consequences of the stable measuring unit assumption as implemented as part of the traditional Historical Cost Accounting model.

The Measuring Unit principle: The unit of measure in accounting shall be the base money unit of the most relevant currency. This principle also assumes the unit of measure is stable; that is, changes in its general purchasing power are not considered sufficiently important to require adjustments to the basic financial statements.

Paul H. Walgenbach, Norman E. Dittrich and Ernest I. Hanson, (1973), Financial Accounting, New York: Harcourt Brace Javonovich, Inc. Page 429.


The practice of calculating and accounting net monetary gains and losses during hyperinflation and during low inflation and deflation only with the implementation of IFRS–authorized financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing power (CIPPA), but, not during the implementation of the Historical Cost Accounting model during low inflation and deflation is one of the various confounding generally accepted perplexities in traditional Historical Cost Accounting.

Nicolaas Smith

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