Unit of account

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In economics, unit of account is one of the money functions. A unit of account [1] is a standard numerical monetary unit of measurement of the market value of goods, services, and other transactions. Also known as a "measure" or "standard" of relative worth and deferred payment, a unit of account is a necessary prerequisite for the formulation of commercial agreements that involve debt.

Contents

Money acts as a standard measure and a common denomination of trade. It is thus a basis for quoting and bargaining of prices. It is necessary for developing efficient accounting systems.

Economics

Unit of account in economics allows a somewhat meaningful interpretation of prices, costs, and profits, so that an entity can monitor its own performance. It allows shareholders to make sense of its past performance and have an idea of its future profitability. The use of money, as a relatively stable unit of measure, can tend to drive market economies toward efficiency.[ citation needed ]

Historically, prices were often given in a dominant currency used as a unit of account, but transactions actually settled by using a variety of coins that were available, and often goods, all converted into their value in the unit of account. Many international transactions continue to be settled in this way, using a national value (most often expressed in the US dollar or euro) but with the actual settlement in something else.[ citation needed ]

In historical cost accounting, currencies are assumed to be perfectly stable in real value during non-hyperinflationary conditions under in terms of which the stable measuring unit assumption is applied. The Daily Consumer Price Index (Daily CPI) – or a monetized daily indexed unit of account – can be used to index monetary values on a daily basis when it is required to maintain the purchasing power or real value of monetary values constant during inflation and deflation.

Problems

Money is rarely perfectly stable in real value which is the fundamental problem with traditional historical cost accounting which is based on the stable measuring unit assumption. The unit of account in economics suffers from the pitfall of not being stable in real value over time because money is generally not perfectly stable in real value during inflation and deflation. Inflation destroys the assumption that the real value of the unit of account is stable which is the basis of classic accountancy. In such circumstances, historical values registered in accountancy books become heterogeneous amounts measured in different units. The use of such data under traditional accounting methods without previous correction can lead to confusing -- (or even meaningless) -- results. [2]

History

Historic examples of units of measure include the livre tournois, used in France from 1302 to 1794 whether or not livre coins were minted. In the 14th century Naples used the grossi gigliati, and Bohemia used the Prague groschen. (2021)

At any one time there might be two or three units of account in one region based on the local base, silver and sometimes gold coins, and each often expressed in L.S.D units in ratio 240:12:1. The Florentine gold florin, the French franc and the electoral rheingulden all became pounds (240 denari) of account. Units of account would often survive over 100 years despite the original coins changing composition and availability (e.g. the Castilian maravedi). [3]

A modern unit of account is the European Currency Unit, used in the European Union from 1979 to 1998; its replacement in 1999, the Euro, was also just a unit of account until the introduction of notes and coins in 2002.

Unit of account is the main way of calculating a carrier or ship owner's liability in relation to carriage of goods contracts in which the Hague-Visby Rules apply.[ citation needed ]

In economics, a standard unit of account is used for statistical purposes to describe economic activity. Indexes such as GDP and the CPI are so broad in their scope that compiling them would be impossible without a standard unit of account. After being compiled, these figures are often used to guide governmental policy; especially monetary and fiscal policy.

In calculating the opportunity cost of a policy, a standard unit of account allows for the creation of a composite good. A composite good is a theoretical abstraction that represents an aggregation of all other opportunities that are not realized by the first good. It allows an economic decision's benefits to be weighed against the costs of all other possible goods in that society, without having to refer to any directly. Often, this is most easily accomplished with money.

Finance

The use of a unit of account in financial accounting, according to the American business model, allows investors to invest capital into those companies that provide the highest rate of return. The use of a unit of account in managerial accounting enables firms to choose between activities that yield the highest profit.[ citation needed ]

Accounting

The unit of account in financial accounting refers to the words used to describe the specific assets and liabilities that are reported in financial statements rather than the units used to measure them. That is, unit of account refers to the object of recognition or display whereas unit of measure refers to the tool for measuring it. [4]

Unit of measure and unit of account are sometimes treated as synonyms in financial accounting and economics. Unit of measure in financial accounting refers to the monetary unit to be used; that is, whether it should be nominal units of money as opposed to units that are adjusted for changes in purchasing power over time. [4]

See also

Related Research Articles

Currency Generally accepted medium of exchange for goods or services

A currency is a standardization of money in any form, in use or circulation as a medium of exchange, for example banknotes and coins. A more general definition is that a currency is a system of money in common use within a specific environment over time, especially for people in a nation state. Under this definition, U.S. dollars (US$), euros (€), Indian rupee (₹), Japanese yen (¥), and pounds sterling (£) are examples of (government-issued) fiat currencies. Currencies may act as stores of value and be traded between nations in foreign exchange markets, which determine the relative values of the different currencies. Currencies in this sense are either chosen by users or decreed by governments, and each type has limited boundaries of acceptance - i.e. legal tender laws may require a particular unit of account for payments to government agencies.

Gold standard Monetary system based on the value of gold

A gold standard is a monetary system in which the standard economic unit of account is based on a fixed quantity of gold. The gold standard was the basis for the international monetary system from the 1870s to the early 1920s, and from the late 1920s to 1932 as well as from 1944 until 1971 when the United States unilaterally terminated convertibility of the US dollar to gold foreign central banks, effectively ending the Bretton Woods system. Many states nonetheless hold substantial gold reserves.

Inflation Rise in price level in an economy over time

In economics, inflation is a general increase in the prices of goods and services in an economy. When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services; consequently, inflation corresponds to a reduction in the purchasing power of money. The opposite of inflation is deflation, a sustained decrease in the general price level of goods and services. The common measure of inflation is the inflation rate, the annualized percentage change in a general price index. As prices do not all increase at the same rate, the consumer price index (CPI) is often used for this purpose. The employment cost index is also used for wages in the United States.

Deflation Decrease in the general price level of goods and services

In economics, deflation is a decrease in the general price level of goods and services. Deflation occurs when the inflation rate falls below 0%. Inflation reduces the value of currency over time, but sudden deflation increases it. This allows more goods and services to be bought than before with the same amount of currency. Deflation is distinct from disinflation, a slow-down in the inflation rate, i.e. when inflation declines to a lower rate but is still positive.

Historical cost

In accounting, an economic item's historical cost is the original nominal monetary value of that item. Historical cost accounting involves reporting assets and liabilities at their historical costs, which are not updated for changes in the items' values. Consequently, the amounts reported for these balance sheet items often differ from their current economic or market values.

Money supply Total value of money available in an economy at a specific point in time

In macroeconomics, the money supply refers to the total volume of currency held by the public at a particular point in time. There are several ways to define "money", but standard measures usually include currency in circulation and demand deposits. The central bank of a country may use a definition of what constitutes legal tender for its purposes.

Exchange rate Rate at which one currency will be exchanged for another

In finance, an exchange rate is the rate at which one currency will be exchanged for another currency. Currencies are most commonly national currencies, but may be sub-national as in the case of Hong Kong or supra-national as in the case of the euro.

Monetary policy Policy of interest rates or money supply

Monetary policy is the policy adopted by the monetary authority of a nation to control either the interest rate payable for very short-term borrowing or the money supply, often as an attempt to reduce inflation or the interest rate, to ensure price stability and general trust of the value and stability of the nation's currency.

In economics, standard of deferred payment is a function of money. It is the function of being a widely accepted way to value a debt, thereby allowing goods and services to be acquired now and paid for in the future.

In economics, a medium of exchange is any item that is widely acceptable in exchange for goods and services. In modern economies, the most commonly used medium of exchange is currency.

Financial accounting Field of accounting

Financial accounting is the field of accounting concerned with the summary, analysis and reporting of financial transactions related to a business. This involves the preparation of financial statements available for public use. Stockholders, suppliers, banks, employees, government agencies, business owners, and other stakeholders are examples of people interested in receiving such information for decision making purposes.

In macroeconomics and modern monetary policy, a devaluation is an official lowering of the value of a country's currency within a fixed exchange-rate system, in which a monetary authority formally sets a lower exchange rate of the national currency in relation to a foreign reference currency or currency basket. The opposite of devaluation, a change in the exchange rate making the domestic currency more expensive, is called a revaluation. A monetary authority maintains a fixed value of its currency by being ready to buy or sell foreign currency with the domestic currency at a stated rate; a devaluation is an indication that the monetary authority will buy and sell foreign currency at a lower rate.

Money Object or record accepted as payment

Money is any item or verifiable record that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts, such as taxes, in a particular country or socio-economic context. The main functions of money are distinguished as: a medium of exchange, a unit of account, a store of value and sometimes, a standard of deferred payment. Any item or verifiable record that fulfils these functions can be considered as money.

Monetary inflation is a sustained increase in the money supply of a country. Depending on many factors, especially public expectations, the fundamental state and development of the economy, and the transmission mechanism, it is likely to result in price inflation, which is usually just called "inflation", which is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services.

When a daily indexed unit of account or Daily Consumer Price Index or monetized daily indexed unit of account is used in contracts or in the Capital Maintenance in Units of Constant Purchasing Power accounting model, deferred payments and constant real value non-monetary items are indexed to the general price level in terms of a Daily Index such that changes in the inflation rate—in the case of monetary items—and the stable measuring unit assumption—in the case of constant real value non-monetary items—have no effect on the real value of these items. Non-indexed units, such as contracts written in nominal currency units and nominal monetary items, incur inflation or deflation risk in the case of monetary items. During all periods of inflation, the debtor pays less in real terms than what both the debtor and creditor agreed at the original time of the contract/sale. On the other hand, in periods of deflation, the debtor pays more in real terms than the original agreed value. The opposite is true for creditors. Contracts and constant real value non-monetary items accounted in daily indexed units of account, Daily CPI or monetized daily indexed units of account incur no inflation or deflation risk, as the real value of payments and outstanding capital amounts remain constant over time while the nominal values are inflation- or deflation-indexed daily.

United States dollar Official currency of the United States

The United States dollar is the official currency of the United States and several other countries. The Coinage Act of 1792 introduced the U.S. dollar at par with the Spanish silver dollar, divided it into 100 cents, and authorized the minting of coins denominated in dollars and cents. U.S. banknotes are issued in the form of Federal Reserve Notes, popularly called greenbacks due to their predominantly green color.

Constant purchasing power accounting

Constant purchasing power accounting (CPPA) is an accounting model that is an alternative to traditional historical cost accounting under high inflation and hyper-inflationary environments. It has been approved for use by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the US Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). Under this IFRS and US GAAP authorized system, financial capital maintenance is always measured in units of constant purchasing power (CPP) in terms of a Daily CPI during low inflation, high inflation, hyperinflation and deflation; i.e., during all possible economic environments. During all economic environments it can also be measured in a monetized daily indexed unit of account or in terms of a daily relatively stable foreign currency parallel rate, particularly during hyperinflation when a government refuses to publish CPI data.

A fixed exchange rate, often called a pegged exchange rate, is a type of exchange rate regime in which a currency's value is fixed or pegged by a monetary authority against the value of another currency, a basket of other currencies, or another measure of value, such as gold.

Fiat money Currency not backed by any commodity

Fiat money is a type of currency that is not backed by any commodity such as gold or silver. It is typically declared by a decree from the government to be legal tender. Throughout history, fiat money was sometimes issued by local banks and other institutions. In modern times, fiat money is generally established by government regulation.

This glossary of economics is a list of definitions of terms and concepts used in economics, its sub-disciplines, and related fields.

References

  1. "Functions of Money". boundless.com . 2017-10-11. Archived from the original on October 18, 2015.
  2. The Taxation of Income from Business and Capital in Colombia: Fiscal Reform in the Developing World By Charles E. McLure, John Mutti, Victor Thuronyi, George R. Zodrow, Contributor Charles E. McLure, Published by Duke University Press, 1990, ISBN   0-8223-0925-4, ISBN   978-0-8223-0925-3, Page 259 : Inflation destroys the assumption that money is stable which is the basis of classic accountancy. In such circumstances, historical values registered in accountancy books become heterogeneous amounts measured in different units. The use of such data under traditional accounting methods without previous correction, makes no sense and leads to results that are void of meaning.(Massone, 1981a. p.6)
  3. Peter Spufford (1986). Handbook of medieval exchange—Introduction. Royal Historical Society (Great Britain). p. xix. ISBN   9780861931057.
  4. 1 2 Financial Accounting Standards Research Initiative: The Unit of Account Issue