David Rankin 4/26/2016
Private. Collaborators only.
Thanks for starting this. My first comment is that the parenthetical in the title should be (In Search of a Better Narrative). Certainty is not the point of accounting. Assurance is. Accounting is not now, nor will ever be, a “derived-from-first-principles” practice. It is language, or more accurately, story-telling. The story is about wealth: how much there is, who has claims upon it, how it is created, and how believable the author is.
Double-entry bookkeeping as persisted for so long because it works. It is a masterful language to describe the journey from capital to product to profit and then back to the capital provider.
The current language requires a priesthood to create and interpret it- especially in the netherworld of exotic financial instruments. Those who do not understand it are second-class citizens in the church of modern finance.
New technologies like distributed ledgers or Bitcoin may be as disruptive as Gutenberg’s printing press. What if the sacred texts do not require an intermediary to put them to work?
I too find the prospects exciting. Less because the underlying bookkeeping is ill-suited for 90% of what it does, than because we now have technology that allows us to question and discard outdated heuristics. Value no longer needs to be determined by price, or the cost basis of an asset. Private exchanges can emerge where “exotic” goods like ecosystem services can be bartered or created. Excess capacity could be traded.
These are exciting times. This is the right time to begin this conversation. I’m delighted that you are putting yourself in the mix! Thank you!