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Taking Measure of a Multitude of Measures

Scott Taub | January 29, 2013

For as long as I can remember, accountants have complained about the complexity of accounting standards. Congress has complained about it. Investors have complained about it. Regulators of all types have complained about it. They have complained in the past, and no doubt they will complain again in the future.

The “cost vs. fair value” dichotomy is often cited as a source of complexity, but if the “mixed-attribute model” that we're all so familiar with were limited to just two measurement attributes, things would be far simpler than they actually are. Sometimes, it seems that we have almost as many measurement attributes as there are things to measure.

I'm not going to attempt to catalog all of the measurements used in accounting, but let's stroll through the Accounting Standards Codification and I'll highlight some of the many models.

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