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Sunday, 19 October 2014

Measurement bases cannot be restricted to Historical Cost Accounting

It is realized by now in the accounting world that International Financial Reporting Standards are almost 100% concerned with financial capital maintenance in nominal monetary units; i.e., with Historical Cost Accounting. It is not 100% because completely useless IAS 29 Financial Reporting in Hyperinflationary Economies has been providing guidance (albeit incorrect and useless guidance) regarding financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing power since April 1989; for the last 25 years although the IASB itself only realized it in early 2013 after the elapse of 24 years from the date of authorization of completely useless IAS 29 after I pointed it out to the Board.

There are thus two official paradigms catered for in IFRS:

(i) The centuries old, global, traditional Historical Cost paradigm under which the stable measuring unit assumption is implemented and net monetary gains and losses in monetary items (incorrectly identified and defined in IFRS) are not calculated and accounted.

(ii) The Units of Constant Purchasing Power paradigm authorized as from April, 1989 (for the last 25 years) under which the stable measuring unit assumption is never implemented - currently only required in IFRS during hyperinflation - and under which net monetary gains and losses in monetary items (incorrectly identified and defined in IFRS) are calculated and accounted.

The forthcoming IASB meeting on the Conceptual Framework (22 to 24 October), however, only deals with measurement with regard to HCA in agenda paper 10B. That is consequently a serious mistake if the IFRS Foundation were of the intention to issue high quality IFRSs.

How did this persistent ignoring by the IASB of the Units of Constant Purchasing Power Paradigm come about?

In my opinion, there are various complex reasons.

It was believed at the IASB for 24 years till the first half of 2013 that IFRSs provide NO GUIDANCE regarding the implementation of financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing power despite the fact that this had been provided (incorrectly) in the completely useless IAS 29 as from April 1989, i.e., for the last 24 years, at that time. The IASB specifically stated in 2013 that IFRSs provide no such guidance. "10. Under current IFRS, there is no particular guidance on how to prepare financial statements stated in constant purchasing power units."  They only realized their error after I pointed it out to them with recourse to a letter to Hans Hoogervorst as last resort. The IASB subsequently (finally) stated  - after 24 years - that (the completely useless) IAS 29 deals with financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing power.

Thus, no-one at the IASB in the first 24 years that the completely useless IAS 29 was implemented realized that an IFRS had been giving (incorrect and useless) guidance regarding the implementation of financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing power for almost the entire existence of the IASB and its predecessor bodies.

Why was that?

The reason was (and is) that no-one at the IASB and its predecessor bodies ever understood and today still do not understand the economy wide beneficial effect of implementing financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing correctly IN TERMS OF A DAILY CPI in an economy. The reason for that is that the completely useless IAS 29 has never been implemented correctly to actually result in financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing power as I pointed out to Mr Hoogervorst in my letter. Why? Because the completely useless IAS 29 still today requires the use of the monthly CPI when only the use of at least the Daily CPI results in actual financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing power as it was used, for example, so successfully in 1994 in Brazil as part of their Real Plan to stop hyperinflation overnight with their use of the DAILY Unidade Real de Valor index used very successfully in the entire Brazilian economy on a daily basis. The Brazilian experience with the use of the very successful Unidade Real de Valor DAILY INDEX was and today still is completely ignored by everyone at the IASB.

The proof of that is the fact that no-one at the IASB is, in fact, capable of publicly admitting (in terms of personal understanding) that the completely useless IAS 29 had no positive effect during the 8 years it had been implemented in Zimbabwe´s hyperinflationary economy (because no-one at the IASB today understands the underlying concept and the effects of correct financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing power IN TERMS OF A DAILY CPI) although it is generally accepted worldwide by most accountants (excluding the ones at the IASB) that the completely useless IAS 29 obviously had no positive effect in Zimbabwe during hyperinflation: Zimbabwe's economy imploded on 20 November 2008 after 8 years of full implementation of the completely useless IAS 29. The IASB stated that it can only express an opinion regarding the use of IAS 29 in Zimbabwe after carrying out a special review of its use in Zimbabwe. This special review has not yet been undertaken.

The IASB today thus continues to remain ignorant (they have no knowledge of, they do not understand) of the substantial economy-wide stabilizing effect of financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing power IN TERMS OF A DAILY CPI under the UCPP paradigm despite what happened in Brazil from 1964 to 1994 and especially in 1994 (having been extensively reported in the media and in many books/academia) and elsewhere in Latin America during that time and afterwards.

What should happen at the forthcoming Conceptual Framework meeting if the IASB were to issue high quality IFRSs?

Measurement in the Conceptual Framework should be stated in terms of the two paradigms.

The IASB's habitual excuse that measurement in units of constant purchasing power MIGHT be dealt with IF the POSSIBLE FUTURE RESEARCH PROJECT on financial reporting in high inflationary economies MAY indicate a need to review (the completely useless) IAS 29 is not a reasonable reason to exclude dealing with measurement under the second paradigm (the units of constant purchasing power paradigm) used in IFRS when it is taken into account that the completely useless IAS 29 (which is intended to be implemented under the units of constant purchasing power paradigm, but fails completely) has been used over the last 25 years by thousand of companies in many countries and is now in use - again with absolutely no positive effect - in Venezuela and Belarus, for example.

The use of measurement in units of constant purchasing power as one of the measurement bases (the other two being HC and fair value as currently stated in IASB staff paper 10B) as provided for in the CF for use as part of HCA under the HC paradigm under which the stable measuring unit assumption is still implemented as the main underlying concept is NOT the same as measurement in units of constant purchasing power in terms of the DAILY CPI under the second Units of Constant Purchasing Power Paradigm under which the stable measuring unit assumption is NEVER implemented.

In my opinion the IASB continues to be irresponsible in its duties and functions on an international basis with regard to the urgently needed review of the completely useless IAS 29 to change it to REQUIRE the use of the Daily CPI instead of the current (25 year) practice that the monthly published CPI is used which is the single and only reason for IAS 29 being completely useless and ineffective today in Venezuela and Belarus exactly as it had no positive effect in Zimbabwe in the past.

In my opinion it would not be reasonable to restrict dealing with measurement in the CF to the three measurement bases in HCA under the HC paradigm. In my opinion it would be reasonable for the IASB to include measurement in units of constant purchasing power in terms of the Daily CPI under the Units of Constant Purchasing Power Paradigm under which the stable measuring unit assumption is never implemented as part of Measurement in the Conceptual Framework.

Nicolaas Smith Copyright (c) 2005-2014 Nicolaas J Smith. All rights reserved. No reproduction without permission.