The traditional accounting principles record all assets at an original cost and continue to use these historic figures throughout the asset's life, while economists make a more intelligible assumption that money has a time-value attached to it. The economist's approach is broadly embraced in the corporate finance model whose objective is centred on value creation for the shareholders.
In addition effects of inflation may not be the same for all the companies in the market and historical cost accounts become almost unhelpful when comparing corporate performance.
Alternatives to historical cost accounting
Over the years accounting bodies have introduced a number of alternative accounting methods to historical cost accounting. Opportunity costs are commonly used in economics and do not have much relevance here, however accounting bodies and academic commentators have forwarded new methods of accounting using the current asset value, as opposed to the conventional acquisition cost.
Replacement costs could be used as a possible alternative to historical cost method. In crude terms replacement costs may be defined as the estimated amount that would have to be paid in order to replace the asset as the date of valuation. An advantage of replacement cost is that it focuses on the services the asset will provide rather than the precise physical asset.
However, there is an immediate flaw noted in its definition, where the costs have to be estimated. Estimation has to be carried out after reviewing the asset, the market and if an identical asset is still being traded in the market. While there are problems in simply achieving a precise replacement cost, this method also does not provide the various choices and features that historical cost accounting has to offer.
More accounting systems such as current cost accounting, exit price method, etc. are possible alternatives to historical cost accounting but these are View More »