Phil Cagney 6/3/2016
Private. Collaborators only.
Great writeup, always worth digging into inventions that seem like laws of nature, but have perhaps outlived their usefulness.
Another aspect of conventional accounting that seems broken in this day and age is doing accounts annually or quarterly. This artificial cycle, no doubt made sense when these things were compiled manually and printed. For a modern public company though, this now creates a long lag between a company’s own internal knowledge of its situation, and the market’s knowledge.
In the same way that seeking to reduce value to a single scalar, always aggregating results by the quarter or year also hides a lot of information, beyond the obvious effect of making it stale at the time of release.
The periodic cycle creates endless opportunities for companies and accountants to massage things by bringing the dates of transactions forward and back into/out of the current period in question, or to obfuscate accounts by changing from one financial year convention to another, having a different financial year from your competitors, etc, etc.
Since company shares are priced in real-time by the market, those prices would be rather more closely tied to reality if the company’s accounts were also provided in real-time (say, at least daily). With the current situation, share prices float around based on rumor and innuendo, only to be snapped back to reality when “results” are released periodically.