Need for accounting measurement the big 1

Need for accounting measurement
Need for accounting measurement provides a summary of the measurement bases in use in Financial Reporting
and the concepts behind these measurement bases.
The measurement bases that will be considered here are:

All these bases are forms of accrual accounting – that is, they are intended to measure income as it is earned and costs as they are incurred, as opposed to simply recording cash flows. The last four are all forms of current value measurement.

In forming a judgment on the appropriateness of measurement bases, in literature, the overriding tests has been identified to be their cost-effectiveness and fitness for purpose. However, in the absence of direct evidence on these matters, it is usual to argue in terms of various secondary characteristics that ought to be relevant in assessing the quality of information (see the key indicators in What is useful information?).

The most important of these characteristics are generally considered to be relevance and faithful representation / reliability (older term).

For each basis, an outline is given of how it works and the relevance and faithful representation of the resulting measurements. The question of measurement costs is also considered briefly. In reading the analyses that follow, the following comments should be borne in mind.

Bases of measurement in financial reporting are not carved in stone. Different people have different views on how each basis should work, and meanings evolve as practice changes. Some readers may therefore find that the way a particular basis is described does not match how they understand it.

This does not mean either that their understanding is wrong or that the description in the report is wrong; views on these things simply differ.

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Related IFRS posts

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Introduction IFRS 17 Insurance contracts – More than 20 years in development, IFRS 17 represents a complete overhaul of accounting for insurance contracts. The new standard applies a current value approach to measuring insurance contracts and recognises profit as insurers provide services and are released from risk. The profit or loss earned from underwriting activities are reported separately from financing activities. Detailed note disclosures explain how items like new business issued, experience in the year, cash receipts and payments, and changes in assumptions affected the performance and the carrying amount of insurance contracts.

IFRS 17 establishes principles for the recognition, measurement, presentation and disclosure of insurance contracts issued, reinsurance contracts held and investment contracts with discretionary participation features an entity Read more

The Acquisition Method illustrated

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The short case: The Acquisition Method illustrated

The company A Corp is purchasing all shares in B Corp. Control is acquired by A Corp, B Corp disappears from the economic entity, and B or B’s shareholders receive either A Corp stock or other property. This will result in a business combination which means A Corp’s acquisition of control over the business of B Corp. The Acquisition Method illustrated

The acquisition will Read more

Presentation and disclosure

Presentation and disclosure are the terms used to describe how information about assets, liabilities, equity, income and expenses is provided in the accounts.

Historical cost measurement

Historical cost measurement – The historical cost of an asset is the amount paid for it and the historical cost of a liability is the amount received in respect of it or the amount expected to be paid to satisfy it.

Historical cost accounting is interpreted to require that the amount at which an asset is stated in the accounts should not exceed the amount expected to be recovered from either its use or its sale (its recoverable amount). Historical cost as it is understood is therefore recoverable historical cost.

Recoverable amount is usually considered to be the higher of an asset’s realisable value and its value in use. The resulting recoverable historical cost tree for determining an asset’s recoverable Read more

Identification of markets and transactions

Identification of markets and transactions – Many measurements in financial reporting are, or purport to be, based on current market values. The case for such measurements is strongest where values can be taken from active markets and can therefore be objectively verified. Identification of markets and transactions

Identification of markets and transactionsAn active market is described in IFRS 13, as one where ‘transactions for the asset or liability take place with sufficient frequency and volume to provide pricing information on an ongoing basis.’ This definition is very universal, every transaction can be part of it.

The Application Guidance to IAS 39 Financial Instruments: Recognition and Measurement, described active market, as one where ‘quoted prices are readily and regularly available from an exchange, … Read more

Disclosure innovations in financial reporting

Disclosure innovations in financial reporting – This is a note on the innovative history of Philips’ financial reporting, see the ‘Introduction to a history of innovation in financial reporting‘.

In the Netherlands formal legislation concerning financial reporting was introduced rather late in the early 1970s. The lack of formal legislation was a stimulants to applying innovative financial reporting disclosures, bluntly said ‘anything was possible’ there were no legal minimum levels.

This part is based on a research overview by Camfferman (1996) in his paper ‘Voluntary annual report disclosure by listed Dutch companies, 1945 – 1983’. Camfferman’s work identifies 9 disclosure items. The nine disclosure innovations are discussed in here.

(1) Disclosure of Sales Disclosure innovations in financial reporting

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Prudent reporting in high performance periods

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As a starting point a short history of changes in the Philips’ accounting policies is provided: Prudent reporting in high performance periods

Before 1919

conservative accounting based on historical cost, write-off’s to one guilder, silent reserves, depreciation was treated as a distribution of income

1920 – 1939

a reserve for expansion was created containing money generated by additional paid-in capital (1920), in 1924 patents are capitalized


consolidated balance sheet (since 1931), revaluation reserve created, depreciation of capital expenditures charged to reserves


depreciation based on current fixed

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From 1912 onwards, 11 periods are identified in which different CEO’s were in charge. A distinction has to be made between non-routine (NR) and routine CEO turnover. In literature considerate evidence has been found that when approaching CEO turnover, 1) income reducing accruals, 2) research and development and 3) depreciation (all directly impact income) are managed to affect the company result. Taking a bath accounting big bath strategies

Using the current accruals instead of total accruals may increase the power of the test because firms are more … Read more

Service Concession Arrangements

Illustrative examples Service Concession Arrangements

These examples accompany, but are not part of, IFRIC 12.

Example 1: The grantor gives the operator a financial asset

Arrangement terms Service Concession Arrangements

IE1 The terms of the arrangement require an operator to construct a road—completing construction within two years—and maintain and operate the road to a specified standard for eight years (ie years 3–10). The terms of the arrangement also require the operator to resurface the road at the end of year 8—the resurfacing activity is revenue-generating.

At the end of year 10, the arrangement will end. The operator estimates that the costs it will incur to fulfil its obligations will be:

Table 1.1 Contract costs Service Concession Arrangements

Service Concession Arrangements

IE2 The Read more