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Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Inflation has no effect on the real value of non-monetary items

Inflation cannot erode or destroy the real value of non-monetary items. Erode is in the case of the functional currency, in fact, the same as destroy – there is absolutely no difference. Inflation can only destroy the real value of the unstable monetary medium of exchange (the unstable functional currency - the unstable Rand) used to transfer the constant real non-monetary values of salaries and wages from the employer to the employee.

“Purchasing power of non monetary items does not change in spite of variation in national currency value.”

Prof Dr. Ümit GUCENME, Dr. Aylin Poroy ARSOY, Changes in financial reporting in Turkey, Historical Development of Inflation Accounting 1960 - 2005, Page 9.

The destruction at a rate equal to the rate of inflation of all constant real value non-monetary items never maintained during inflation stops the very moment the Boards of Directors of SA companies and SA accountants choose to implement the IASB-approved financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing power model no matter what the level of inflation in the SA economy. The choice is theirs. The power to stop killing the real economy is in their hands - as authorized since 1989 in the IASB´s Framework, Par 104 (a) which is applicable in the absence of specific IFRS. It is SA accountants´ choice of accounting model and not inflation that maintains or destroys the real value of constant real value non-monetary items in SA´s low inflationary economy.

The constant real non-monetary values of salaries and wages expressed in terms of the depreciating unstable Rand as the depreciating unstable monetary unit of account are presently being maintained at the actual levels currently being achieved in SA when their nominal monetary values are indexed or inflation-adjusted by means of the CPI in SA´s low inflationary environment. This happens not because of a lowering of inflation, but because of SA accountants and SA trade unions valuing salaries and wages in units of constant purchasing power - inflation-adjusting them - instead of the Historical Cost measurement basis for this particular purpose.

If the parties to the salary and wage determination process were to agree to value salaries and wages at fixed Historical Cost – like Iceland recently decided to freeze salaries because of their financial crisis - then their constant real non-monetary values would be destroyed at a rate equal to the rate of inflation since constant real value non-monetary salaries and wages are expressed in term of the depreciating monetary unit of account in SA, namely, in depreciating Rands and are normally paid in depreciating Rands. Salaries and wages are not depreciating monetary items. They are constant real value non-monetary items. They are, however, normally paid in depreciating Rands which are depreciating monetary items during inflation.

“Income Statement

This standard requires that all items in the income statement are expressed in terms of the measuring unit current at the balance sheet date.” IAS 29, Par 26.

All items in the income statement are constant real value non-monetary items to be expressed or maintained or inflation-adjusted in terms of the measuring unit current (normally the CPI) at the balance sheet date in the case of IAS 29 and CIPPA models. Salaries and wages, being income statement items, are constant real value non-monetary items.

The real values of salaries and wages would thus not be destroyed by inflation if they were valued in nominal monetary units, but by the choice of the measurement basis, namely, Historical Cost which means the implementation of the very destructive stable measuring unit assumption whereby SA accountants consider that the continuous destruction of the purchasing power of the Rand – currently at 6.2% p.a. - is not sufficiently important to index or inflation-adjust the nominal values of constant real value non-monetary salaries and wages by means of the CPI in order to maintain their real values constant. What SA accountants do, in essence, is they assume the constantly depreciating monetary unit of account – the depreciating Rand – is perfectly stable when they implement the stable measuring unit assumption. SA accountants assume the depreciating Rand is perfectly stable, but, only for this particular purpose.

Constant purchasing power indexation or inflation-adjustment or measurement in units of constant purchasing power as authorized in the Framework, Par 104 (a) is thus applicable for financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing power since there is no particular IFRS which deals with it. It is a SA Generally Accepted Accounting Practice and well understood in SA´s low inflationary economy, but, currently, only for some - not all - constant real value non-monetary items in the income statement, e.g. salaries, wages, rentals, etc.
Copyright © 2010 Nicolaas J Smith