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对历史成本计量问题的探讨

时间:2016-03-02 09:07来源:www.ukassignment.org 作者:留学生作业 点击:

对历史成本计量问题的探讨
Exploring Concerns over the historical cost measurement

 

最近公司提出了前所未有的问题,是否使用历史成本计量在财务报表的准备继续相关性和代表最佳的估计报告实体持续经营公司。压力来自各种财务报表的用户带来了巨大的挑战,会计标准制定者制定新标准,原则,方法,工具和实践领域的会计尤其是公允价值计量。近年来,可以说,国际会计准则理事会(IASB),会计标准制定者越来越倾向于使用公允价值计量。这是可以通过引入公允价值计量资产,后来扩展到公允价值计量在债务和股票。因此,本文旨在解释公允价值的概念,研究公允价值计量与历史成本计量的财务报告,并概述赞成和反对公允价值与历史成本相比的理由。本文的结论与其他问题和挑战在公允价值测量系统的实现。

公允价值的概念第一次出现在1982年将它定义为“一种资产的数量可以之间交换知识渊博,乐意和知识渊博的买家,希望卖家公平交易。随后,类似的定义扩展为其他资产公允价值分类。除此之外,“买家”和“卖家”一词换成一个更通用术语称为“各方”。机构间常设委员会和IASB然后进一步的金融资产公允价值定义,无形资产,负债和权益工具,得出公允价值的定义是“一种资产的数量可以交换,一个责任定居或权益工具授予可以交换,知识之间自愿的政党在一个公平交易系统中。

The recent unprecedented explosion in corporations has raised question on whether the use of historical cost measurement in the preparation of financial statement continue relevance and represent best estimate of reporting entity as a going concern Company. Pressure from various users of financial statements have brought about immense challenges to accounting standard setters to develop newer standards, principles, methodologies, tools and practices in the area of accounting especially on fair value measurement. In recent years, it is arguably that the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), an accounting standard setter increasingly favours the use of fair value measurement. This is evidenced by introduction of fair value measurement on assets which later on extended to fair value measurement on both liabilities and equities. Therefore, this paper meant to explain the concept of fair value, examine the extent of fair value measurement versus historical cost measurement in a financial reporting, and outline the arguments for and arguments against fair value as compared to historical cost. The paper concluded with other issues and challenges in implementation of fair value measurement system.

The concept of fair value first appears under IAS 16 Accounting for Property, Plant and Equipment 1982 which defined it as 'the amount for which an asset could be exchanged between a knowledgeable, willing buyer and knowledgeable, willing seller in an arm's length transaction' (IAS 16, 1982). Subsequently, similar definition is extended to fair value for other assets classification. Besides that, the term 'buyer' and 'seller' are replaced with a more generic term called 'parties'. The IASC and IASB then further the fair value definition to financial assets, intangible assets, liabilities and equity instruments, which concluded the definition of fair value as 'the amount for which an asset could be exchanged, a liability settled or an equity instrument granted could be exchanged, between knowledgeable, willing parties in an arm's length transaction' (IFRS 2.A). Under the SFAS 157, fair value is defined as 'the price that would be received to sell an asset or paid to transfer a liability in an orderly transaction between market participants at the measurement date' (SFAS157, 5). Therefore, fair value equates the exit price. Based on David Cairns 2006, fair value measurement is a hierarchy divided into three layers. The top layer is fair value measurement based quoted price in active markets. If this is not available, the next alternative or the second layer is to use observable market prices for similar assets or liabilities. Otherwise, the third layer is to use other valuation techniques to calculate fair value of assets or liabilities. When markets are relatively perfect, fair value measurement arguably adds value to financial statements by providing the current market prices. However, during the financial crisis, fair value measurement arguably triggers further price fall. This is due to mark-to-market accounting results in huge impact to the income statement which may results in collapse in market confidences and that impact on the global financial system as a whole. Despite the fact, there is no single universal standard that is bullet-proof. Hence, it will be more appropriate to define a clear objective and choose a measurement method that best met the objective (Whittington, G. 2008).

According to the IASB Framework for the Preparation and Presentation of Financial Statements, the objective of financial statement is 'to provide information about the financial position, performance and changes in financial position of an entity that is useful to a wide range of users in making economic decisions' (IASB Framework, paragraph 12). In an effort to create a global accounting standards FASB and IASB then jointly developed a conceptual framework which defined 'the objective of general purpose financial reporting is to provide financial information about the reporting entity that is useful in making decisions about providing resources to the entity and in assessing whether the management and the governing board of that entity have made efficient or effective use of the resources provided' (IASB Exposure Draft 2010, paragraph RE1). In short, the conceptual framework spells out two main objectives of financial statements: 1) to provide information useful for economic decision making and 2) to assess management's stewardship. Based on IASB Framework paragraph 24, information useful for economic decision making must comprise four qualitative characteristics which are relevance, reliability, understandability and comparability. Measurement method, being fair value or historical cost, whichever best met these characteristics and in turn meet the objectives of financial statement considered a more superior measurement technique.

First of all, 'relevance' criteria arguably achieved through use of fair value in measuring assets and liabilities in the financial statement. Fair value reflects the current economic conditions which becomes increasingly useful in the current rapid changing environment. In recent years, there is sharp increase in property market especially in Asia. Based on the Global Property Guide Index, Singapore's property index raised drastically despite government efforts to stabilize the market. The prices of landed properties rose by a 6.2% recorded in Q2 2010 and again 7.7% in Q3 2010 after. Therefore, if property continued to value at historical costs less depreciation, the net book value presented in the accounts become irrelevant for decision making as the book value varies significantly to its current market value. On the contrary, fair values do capture the market price at any measurement date which is relevance for economic decision making. Back to the definition by IASB Framework for the Preparation and Presentation of Financial Statements, relevance is 'when it influences the economic decisions of users by helping them evaluate past, present or future events or confirming, or correcting, their past evaluations' (IASB Framework, paragraph 26). Information relevance is affected by its nature, materiality and timeliness (IASB Framework paragraphs 29, 30 and 43). Hence, eventhough fair value measurement is preferred in terms of 'relevance' criteria, the materiality and timeliness of information need to be considered too. For instance, if using fair value measurement takes a long time to figure out, then historical cost obviously would be preferred because by the time information obtained, it may not serve the current market value. In terms of 'materiality' where assets or liabilities have minimal price changes throughout years, it is easier to use historical cost measurement as it assumes the fair value measurement due to immaterial difference.

Another important characteristic to the content in financial information is 'reliability'. It is arguably that historical cost measurement is more reliable simply because it has been long established and that become a tradition for cost measurement. It is also arguably that historical cost is more objective and comprehensive which makes it easier for accountants to apply and for auditors to verify. On the contrary, fair value is more subjective and complicated, especially when judgement is required in determining the fair value of an asset or liability. The IASB Framework states that reliability comprises faithful representation, prudence, substance over form, neutrality and completeness (IASB, paragraph 13). Fair value supporters argue that fair value measurement represents faithful representation as assets or liabilities are quoted in a common market place, which is known to everyone. However, the level of information available to Companies or Industries may vary. Also, in real world phenomena, many assets and liabilities are not quoted in active market. Therefore, when valuation technique such as present value of future cash flow is used to determine fair value of asset or liabilities, it involves certain degree of estimation and judgement which subject to management discretion and auditors acceptance. Hence, it is argued that unless the assets or liabilities are quoted in active market, historical cost measurement is a preferred option. In terms of prudence concept, where the market value of asset or liability is more than its carrying value, historical cost captured it at cost but fair value capture it a market price (revaluation upwards). However, when carrying value is less than its market value, impairment recognised both under historical costs and fair value measurement. Therefore, it is arguably that historical cost measurement greater upholds the prudence concept.



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