Measurement – FAQ | IFRS

Measurement

Introduction

6.1 Elements recognised in financial statements are quantified in monetary terms. This requires the selection of a measurement basis. A measurement basis is an identified feature—for example, historical cost, fair value or fulfilment value—of an item being measured. Applying a measurement basis to an asset or liability creates a measure for that asset or liability and for related income and expenses.

6.2 Consideration of the qualitative characteristics of useful financial information and of the cost constraint is likely to result in the selection of different measurement bases for different assets, liabilities, income and expenses.

6.3 A Standard may need to describe how to implement the measurement basis selected in that Standard. That description could include:

  1. specifying techniques that may or must be used to estimate a measure applying a particular measurement basis;
  2. specifying a simplified measurement approach that is likely to provide information similar to that provided by a preferred measurement basis; or
  3. explaining how to modify a measurement basis, for example, by excluding from the fulfilment value of a liability the effect of the possibility that the entity may fail to fulfil that liability (own credit risk).

Measurement bases

Historical cost

6.4 Historical cost measures provide monetary information about assets, liabilities and related income and expenses, using information derived, at least in part, from the price of the transaction or other event that gave rise to them. Unlike current value, historical cost does not reflect changes in values, except to the extent that those changes relate to impairment of an asset or a liability becoming onerous (see paragraphs 6.7(c) and 6.8(b)).

6.5 The historical cost of an asset when it is acquired or created is the value of the costs incurred in acquiring or creating the asset, comprising the consideration paid to acquire or create the asset plus transaction costs. The historical cost of a liability when it is incurred or taken on is the value of the consideration received to incur or take on the liability minus transaction costs.

6.6 When an asset is acquired or created, or a liability is incurred or taken on, as a result of an event that is not a transaction on market terms (see paragraph 6.80), it may not be possible to identify a cost, or the cost may not provide relevant information about the asset or liability. In some such cases, a current value of the asset or liability is used as a deemed cost on initial recognition and that deemed cost is then used as a starting point for subsequent measurement at historical cost.

6.7 The historical cost of an asset is updated over time to depict, if applicable:

  1. the consumption of part or all of the economic resource that constitutes the asset (depreciation or amortisation);
  2. payments received that extinguish part or all of the asset;
  3. the effect of events that cause part or all of the historical cost of the asset to be no longer recoverable (impairment); and
  4. accrual of interest to reflect any financing component of the asset.

6.8 The historical cost of a liability is updated over time to depict, if applicable:

  1. fulfilment of part or all of the liability, for example, by making payments that extinguish part or all of the liability or by satisfying an obligation to deliver goods;
  2. the effect of events that increase the value of the obligation to transfer the economic resources needed to fulfil the liability to such an extent that the liability becomes onerous. A liability is onerous if the historical cost is no longer sufficient to depict the obligation to fulfil the liability; and
  3. accrual of interest to reflect any financing component of the liability.

6.9 One way to apply a historical cost measurement basis to financial assets and financial liabilities is to measure them at amortised cost. The amortised cost of a financial asset or financial liability reflects estimates of future cash flows, discounted at a rate determined at initial recognition. For variable rate instruments, the discount rate is updated to reflect changes in the variable rate. The amortised cost of a financial asset or financial liability is updated over time to depict subsequent changes, such as the accrual of interest, the impairment of a financial asset and receipts or payments.

Current value

6.10 Current value measures provide monetary information about assets, liabilities and related income and expenses, using information updated to reflect conditions at the measurement date. Because of the updating, current values of assets and liabilities reflect changes, since the previous measurement date, in estimates of cash flows and other factors reflected in those current values (see paragraphs 6.14–6.15 and 6.20). Unlike historical cost, the current value of an asset or liability is not derived, even in part, from the price of the transaction or other event that gave rise to the asset or liability.

6.11 Current value measurement bases include:

  1. fair value (see paragraphs 6.12–6.16);
  2. value in use for assets and fulfilment value for liabilities (see paragraphs 6.17–6.20); and
  3. current cost (see paragraphs 6.21–6.22).

Fair value

6.12 Fair value is the price that would be received to sell an asset, or paid to transfer a liability, in an orderly transaction between market participants at the measurement date.

6.13 Fair value reflects the perspective of market participants—participants in a market to which the entity has access. The asset or liability is measured using the same assumptions that market participants would use when pricing the asset or liability if those market participants act in their economic best interest.

6.14 In some cases, fair value can be determined directly by observing prices in an active market. In other cases, it is determined indirectly using measurement techniques, for example, cash-flow-based measurement techniques (see paragraphs 6.91–6.95), reflecting all the following factors:

  1. estimates of future cash flows.
  2. possible variations in the estimated amount or timing of future cash flows for the asset or liability being measured, caused by the uncertainty inherent in the cash flows.
  3. the time value of money.
  4. the price for bearing the uncertainty inherent in the cash flows (a risk premium or risk discount). The price for bearing that uncertainty depends on the extent of that uncertainty. It also reflects the fact that investors would generally pay less for an asset (and generally require more for taking on a liability) that has uncertain cash flows than for an asset (or liability) whose cash flows are certain.
  5. other factors, for example, liquidity, if market participants would take those factors into account in the circumstances.

6.15 The factors mentioned in paragraphs 6.14(b) and 6.14(d) include the possibility that a counterparty may fail to fulfil its liability to the entity (credit risk), or that the entity may fail to fulfil its liability (own credit risk).

6.16 Because fair value is not derived, even in part, from the price of the transaction or other event that gave rise to the asset or liability, fair value is not increased by the transaction costs incurred when acquiring the asset and is not decreased by the transaction costs incurred when the liability is incurred or taken on. In addition, fair value does not reflect the transaction costs that would be incurred on the ultimate disposal of the asset or on transferring or settling the liability.

Value in use and fulfilment value

6.17 Value in use is the present value of the cash flows, or other economic benefits, that an entity expects to derive from the use of an asset and from its ultimate disposal. Fulfilment value is the present value of the cash, or other economic resources, that an entity expects to be obliged to transfer as it fulfils a liability. Those amounts of cash or other economic resources include not only the amounts to be transferred to the liability counterparty, but also the amounts that the entity expects to be obliged to transfer to other parties to enable it to fulfil the liability.

6.18 Because value in use and fulfilment value are based on future cash flows, they do not include transaction costs incurred on acquiring an asset or taking on a liability. However, value in use and fulfilment value include the present value of any transaction costs an entity expects to incur on the ultimate disposal of the asset or on fulfilling the liability.

6.19 Value in use and fulfilment value reflect entity-specific assumptions rather than assumptions by market participants. In practice, there may sometimes be little difference between the assumptions that market participants would use and those that an entity itself uses.

6.20 Value in use and fulfilment value cannot be observed directly and are determined using cash-flow-based measurement techniques (see paragraphs 6.91–6.95). Value in use and fulfilment value reflect the same factors described for fair value in paragraph 6.14, but from an entity-specific perspective rather than from a market-participant perspective.

Current cost

6.21 The current cost of an asset is the cost of an equivalent asset at the measurement date, comprising the consideration that would be paid at the measurement date plus the transaction costs that would be incurred at that date. The current cost of a liability is the consideration that would be received for an equivalent liability at the measurement date minus the transaction costs that would be incurred at that date. Current cost, like historical cost, is an entry value: it reflects prices in the market in which the entity would acquire the asset or would incur the liability. Hence, it is different from fair value, value in use and fulfilment value, which are exit values. However, unlike historical cost, current cost reflects conditions at the measurement date.

6.22 In some cases, current cost cannot be determined directly by observing prices in an active market and must be determined indirectly by other means. For example, if prices are available only for new assets, the current cost of a used asset might need to be estimated by adjusting the current price of a new asset to reflect the current age and condition of the asset held by the entity.

Information provided by particular measurement bases

6.23 When selecting a measurement basis, it is important to consider the nature of the information that the measurement basis will produce in both the statement of financial position and the statement(s) of financial performance. Table 6.1 summarises that information and paragraphs 6.24–6.42 provide additional discussion.

Historical cost

6.24 Information provided by measuring an asset or liability at historical cost may be relevant to users of financial statements, because historical cost uses information derived, at least in part, from the price of the transaction or other event that gave rise to the asset or liability.

6.25 Normally, if an entity acquired an asset in a recent transaction on market terms, the entity expects that the asset will provide sufficient economic benefits that the entity will at least recover the cost of the asset. Similarly, if a liability was incurred or taken on as a result of a recent transaction on market terms, the entity expects that the value of the obligation to transfer economic resources to fulfil the liability will normally be no more than the value of the consideration received minus transaction costs. Hence, measuring an asset or liability at historical cost in such cases provides relevant information about both the asset or liability and the price of the transaction that gave rise to that asset or liability.

6.26 Because historical cost is reduced to reflect consumption of an asset and its impairment, the amount expected to be recovered from an asset measured at historical cost is at least as great as its carrying amount. Similarly, because the historical cost of a liability is increased when it becomes onerous, the value of the obligation to transfer the economic resources needed to fulfil the liability is no more than the carrying amount of the liability.

6.27 If an asset other than a financial asset is measured at historical cost, consumption or sale of the asset, or of part of the asset, gives rise to an expense measured at the historical cost of the asset, or of part of the asset, consumed or sold.

6.28 The expense arising from the sale of an asset is recognised at the same time as the consideration for that sale is recognised as income. The difference between the income and the expense is the margin resulting from the sale. Expenses arising from consumption of an asset can be compared to related income to provide information about margins.

6.29 Similarly, if a liability other than a financial liability was incurred or taken on in exchange for consideration and is measured at historical cost, the fulfilment of all or part of the liability gives rise to income measured at the value of the consideration received for the part fulfilled. The difference between that income and the expenses incurred in fulfilling the liability is the margin resulting from the fulfilment.

6.30 Information about the cost of assets sold or consumed, including goods and services consumed immediately (see paragraph 4.8), and about the consideration received, may have predictive value. That information can be used as an input in predicting future margins from the future sale of goods (including goods not currently held by the entity) and services and hence to assess the entity’s prospects for future net cash inflows. To assess an entity’s prospects for future cash flows, users of financial statements often focus on the entity’s prospects for generating future margins over many periods, not just on its prospects for generating margins from goods already held. Income and expenses measured at historical cost may also have confirmatory value because they may provide feedback to users of financial statements about their previous predictions of cash flows or of margins. Information about the cost of assets sold or consumed may also help in an assessment of how efficiently and effectively the entity’s management has discharged its responsibilities to use the entity’s economic resources.

6.31 For similar reasons, information about interest earned on assets, and interest incurred on liabilities, measured at amortised cost may have predictive and confirmatory value.

Current value

Fair value

6.32 Information provided by measuring assets and liabilities at fair value may have predictive value because fair value reflects market participants’ current expectations about the amount, timing and uncertainty of future cash flows. These expectations are priced in a manner that reflects the current risk preferences of market participants. That information may also have confirmatory value by providing feedback about previous expectations.

6.33 Income and expenses reflecting market participants’ current expectations may have some predictive value, because such income and expenses can be used as an input in predicting future income and expenses. Such income and expenses may also help in an assessment of how efficiently and effectively the entity’s management has discharged its responsibilities to use the entity’s economic resources.

6.34 A change in the fair value of an asset or liability can result from various factors identified in paragraph 6.14. When those factors have different characteristics, identifying separately income and expenses that result from those factors can provide useful information to users of financial statements (see paragraph 7.14(b)).

6.35 If an entity acquired an asset in one market and determines fair value using prices in a different market (the market in which the entity would sell the asset), any difference between the prices in those two markets is recognised as income when that fair value is first determined.

6.36 Sale of an asset or transfer of a liability would normally be for consideration of an amount similar to its fair value, if the transaction were to occur in the market that was the source for the prices used when measuring that fair value. In those cases, if the asset or liability is measured at fair value, the net income or net expenses arising at the time of the sale or transfer would usually be small, unless the effect of transaction costs is significant.

Value in use and fulfilment value

6.37 Value in use provides information about the present value of the estimated cash flows from the use of an asset and from its ultimate disposal. This information may have predictive value because it can be used in assessing the prospects for future net cash inflows.

6.38 Fulfilment value provides information about the present value of the estimated cash flows needed to fulfil a liability. Hence, fulfilment value may have predictive value, particularly if the liability will be fulfilled, rather than transferred or settled by negotiation.

6.39 Updated estimates of value in use or fulfilment value, combined with information about estimates of the amount, timing and uncertainty of future cash flows, may also have confirmatory value because they provide feedback about previous estimates of value in use or fulfilment value.

Current cost

6.40 Information about assets and liabilities measured at current cost may be relevant because current cost reflects the cost at which an equivalent asset could be acquired or created at the measurement date or the consideration that would be received for incurring or taking on an equivalent liability.

6.41 Like historical cost, current cost provides information about the cost of an asset consumed or about income from the fulfilment of liabilities. That information can be used to derive current margins and can be used as an input in predicting future margins. Unlike historical cost, current cost reflects prices prevailing at the time of consumption or fulfilment. When price changes are significant, margins based on current cost may be more useful for predicting future margins than margins based on historical cost.

6.42 To report the current cost of consumption (or current income from fulfilment), it is necessary to split the change in the carrying amount in the reporting period into the current cost of consumption (or current income from fulfilment), and the effect of changes in prices. The effect of a change in prices is sometimes referred to as a ‘holding gain’ or a ‘holding loss’.

Table 6.1Summary of information provided by particular measurement bases

Statement of Financial Position
Assets
EventHistorical costFair value (market-participant assumptions)Value in use (entity-specific assumptions) – (a)Current cost
Carrying amountHistorical cost (including transaction costs), to the extent unconsumed or uncollected, and recoverable. (Includes interest accrued on any financing component.)Price that would be received to sell the asset (without deducting transaction costs on disposal).Present value of future cash flows from the use of the asset and from its ultimate disposal (after deducting present value of transaction costs on disposal).Current cost (including transaction costs), to the extent unconsumed or uncollected, and recoverable.
Statement(s) of financial performance
EventHistorical costFair value (market-participant assumptions)Value in use (entity-specific assumptions)Current cost
Initial recognition – (b)Difference between consideration paid and fair value of the asset acquired. – (c) Transaction costs on acquiring the asset.Difference between consideration paid and value in use of the asset acquired.
Sale or consumption of the asset – (d) (e)Expenses equal to historical cost of the asset sold or consumed. Income received. (Could be presented gross or net.) Expenses for transaction costs on selling the asset.Expenses equal to historical cost of the asset sold or consumed. Income received. (Could be presented gross or net.) Expenses for transaction costs on selling the asset.Expenses equal to historical cost of the asset sold or consumed. Income received. (Could be presented gross or net.)Expenses equal to historical cost of the asset sold or consumed. Income received. (Could be presented gross or net.) Expenses for transaction costs on selling the asset.
Statement(s) of financial performance
Interest incomeInterest income, at historical rates, updated if the asset bears variable interest.Reflected in income and expenses from changes in fair value. (Could be identified separately.)Reflected in income and expenses from changes in value in use. (Could be identified separately.)Interest income, at current rates.
ImpairmentExpenses arising because historical cost is no longer recoverable.Reflected in income and expenses from changes in fair value. (Could be identified separately.)Reflected in income and expenses from changes in value in use. (Could be identified separately.)Expenses arising because current cost is no longer recoverable.
Value changesNot recognised except to reflect an impairment. For financial
assets—income
and expenses
from changes in
estimated cash
flows.
Reflected in income and expenses from changes in fair value.Reflected in income and expenses from changes in value in use.Income and expenses reflecting the effect of changes in prices (holding gains and holding losses).
Statement of Financial Position
Liabilities
Historical costFair value (market-participant assumptions)Fulfilment value (entity-specific assumptions)Current cost
Carrying amountConsideration received (net of transaction costs) for taking on the unfulfilled part of the liability, increased by excess of estimated cash outflows over consideration received. (Includes interest accrued on any financing component.)Price that would be paid to transfer the unfulfilled part of the liability (not including transaction costs that would be incurred on transfer).Present value of
future cash flows
that will arise in
fulfilling the
unfulfilled part of
the liability
(including present
value of
transaction costs
to be incurred in
fulfilment or
transfer).
Consideration (net of transaction costs) that would be currently received for taking on the unfulfilled part of the liability, increased by excess of estimated cash outflows over that consideration.
Statement of financial performance
EventHistorical costFair value (market-participant assumptions)Value in use (entity-specific assumptions)Current cost
Initial recognition – (f)Difference
between
consideration
received and the
fair value of the liability. – (g) Transaction costs
on incurring or
taking on the
liability.
Difference between consideration received and the fulfilment value of the liability. Transaction costs
on incurring or
taking on the
liability.
  1. his column summarises the information provided if value in use is used as a measurement basis. However, as noted in paragraph 6.75, value in use may not be a practical measurement basis for regular remeasurements.
  2. Income or expenses may arise on the initial recognition of an asset not acquired on market terms.
  3. Income or expenses may arise if the market in which an asset is acquired is different from the market that is the source of the prices used when measuring the fair value of the asset.
  4. Consumption of the asset is typically reported through cost of sales, depreciation or amortisation.
  5. Income received is often equal to the consideration received but will depend on the measurement basis used for any related liability.

Statement of financial performance

EventHistorical costFair value (market-participant assumptions)Fulfilment value (entity-specific assumptions)Current cost
Fulfilment of the
Liability
Income equal to historical cost of the liability fulfilled (reflects historical consideration). Expenses for costs incurred in fulfilling the liability. (Could be presented net or gross.)Income equal to fulfilment value of the liability fulfilled. Expenses for costs incurred in fulfilling the liability. (Could be presented net or gross. If gross, historical consideration could be presented separately.)Income equal to fulfilment value of the liability fulfilled. Expenses for costs incurred in fulfilling the liability. (Could be presented net or gross. If gross, historical consideration could be presented separately.)Income equal to current cost of the liability fulfilled (reflects current consideration). Expenses for costs incurred in fulfilling the liability. (Could be presented net or gross. If gross, historical consideration could be presented separately.)
Transfer of the
liability
Income equal to historical cost of the liability transferred (reflects historical consideration). Expenses for costs paid (including transaction costs) to transfer the liability. (Could be presented net or gross.)Income equal to fair value of the liability transferred. Expenses for costs paid (including transaction costs) to transfer the liability. (Could be presented net or gross.)Income equal to fulfilment value of the liability transferred. Expenses for costs paid (including transaction costs) to transfer the liability. (Could be presented net or gross.)Income equal to current cost of the liability transferred (reflects current consideration). Expenses for costs paid (including transaction costs) to transfer the liability. (Could be presented net or gross.)
Interest expensesInterest expenses, at historical rates, updated if the liability bears variable interest.Reflected in income and expenses from changes in fair value. (Could be identified separately.)Reflected in income and expenses from changes in fulfilment value. (Could be identified separately.)Interest expenses, at current rates.
Statement of financial performance
EventHistorical costFair value (market-participant assumptions)Value in use (entity-specific assumptions)Current cost
Effect of events
that cause a
liability to
become onerous
Expenses equal to the excess of the estimated cash outflows over the historical cost of the liability, or a subsequent change in that excess.Reflected in income and expenses from changes in fair value. (Could be identified separately.)Reflected in income and expenses from changes in fulfilment value. (Could be identified separately.)Expenses equal to the excess of the estimated cash outflows over the current cost of the liability, or a subsequent change in that excess.
Value changesNot recognised except to the extent that the liability is onerous. For financial liabilities—income and expenses from changes in estimated cash flows.Reflected in income and expenses from changes in fair value.Reflected in income and expenses from changes in fulfilment value.Income and expenses reflecting the effect of changes in prices (holding gains and holding losses).
  1. Income or expenses may arise on the initial recognition of a liability incurred or taken on not on market terms.
  2. Income or expenses may arise if the market in which a liability is incurred or taken on is different from the market that is the source of the prices used when measuring the fair value of the liability.

Factors to consider when selecting a measurement basis

6.43 In selecting a measurement basis for an asset or liability and for the related income and expenses, it is necessary to consider the nature of the information that the measurement basis will produce in both the statement of financial position and the statement(s) of financial performance (see paragraphs 6.23–6.42 and Table 6.1), as well as other factors (see paragraphs 6.44–6.86).

6.44 In most cases, no single factor will determine which measurement basis should be selected. The relative importance of each factor will depend on facts and circumstances.

6.45 The information provided by a measurement basis must be useful to users of financial statements. To achieve this, the information must be relevant and it must faithfully represent what it purports to represent. In addition, the information provided should be, as far as possible, comparable, verifiable, timely and understandable.

6.46 As explained in paragraph 2.21, the most efficient and effective process for applying the fundamental qualitative characteristics would usually be to identify the most relevant information about an economic phenomenon. If that information is not available or cannot be provided in a way that faithfully represents the economic phenomenon, the next most relevant type of information is considered. Paragraphs 6.49–6.76 provide further discussion of the role played by the qualitative characteristics in the selection of a measurement basis.

6.47 The discussion in paragraphs 6.49–6.76 focuses on the factors to be considered in selecting a measurement basis for recognised assets and recognised liabilities. Some of that discussion may also apply in selecting a measurement basis for information provided in the notes, for recognised or unrecognised items.

6.48 Paragraphs 6.77–6.82 discuss additional factors to consider in selecting a measurement basis on initial recognition. If the initial measurement basis is inconsistent with the subsequent measurement basis, income and expenses might be recognised at the time of the first subsequent measurement solely because of the change in measurement basis. Recognising such income and expenses might appear to depict a transaction or other event when, in fact, no such transaction or event has occurred. Hence, the choice of measurement basis for an asset or liability, and for the related income and expenses, is determined by considering both initial measurement and subsequent measurement.

Relevance

6.49 The relevance of information provided by a measurement basis for an asset or liability and for the related income and expenses is affected by:

  1. the characteristics of the asset or liability (see paragraphs 6.50–6.53); and
  2. how that asset or liability contributes to future cash flows (see paragraphs 6.54–6.57).

Characteristics of the asset or liability

6.50 The relevance of information provided by a measurement basis depends partly on the characteristics of the asset or liability, in particular, on the variability of cash flows and on whether the value of the asset or liability is sensitive to market factors or other risks.

6.51 If the value of an asset or liability is sensitive to market factors or other risks, its historical cost might differ significantly from its current value. Consequently, historical cost may not provide relevant information if information about changes in value is important to users of financial statements. For example, amortised cost cannot provide relevant information about a financial asset or financial liability that is a derivative.

6.52 Furthermore, if historical cost is used, changes in value are reported not when that value changes, but when an event such as disposal, impairment or fulfilment occurs. This could be incorrectly interpreted as implying that all the income and expenses recognised at the time of that event arose then, rather than over the periods during which the asset or liability was held. Moreover, because measurement at historical cost does not provide timely information about changes in value, income and expenses reported on that basis may lack predictive value and confirmatory value by not depicting the full effect of the entity’s exposure to risk arising from holding the asset or liability during the reporting period.

6.53 Changes in the fair value of an asset or liability reflect changes in expectations of market participants and changes in their risk preferences. Depending on the characteristics of the asset or liability being measured and on the nature of the entity’s business activities, information reflecting those changes may not always provide predictive value or confirmatory value to users of financial statements. This may be the case when the entity’s business activities do not involve selling the asset or transferring the liability, for example, if the entity holds assets solely for use or solely for collecting contractual cash flows or if the entity is to fulfil liabilities itself.

Contribution to future cash flows

6.54 As noted in paragraph 1.14, some economic resources produce cash flows directly; in other cases, economic resources are used in combination to produce cash flows indirectly. How economic resources are used, and hence how assets and liabilities produce cash flows, depends in part on the nature of the business activities conducted by the entity.

6.55 When a business activity of an entity involves the use of several economic resources that produce cash flows indirectly, by being used in combination to produce and market goods or services to customers, historical cost or current cost is likely to provide relevant information about that activity. For example, property, plant and equipment is typically used in combination with an entity’s other economic resources. Similarly, inventory typically cannot be sold to a customer, except by making extensive use of the entity’s other economic resources (for example, in production and marketing activities). Paragraphs 6.24–6.31 and 6.40–6.42 explain how measuring such assets at historical cost or current cost can provide relevant information that can be used to derive margins achieved during the period.

6.56 For assets and liabilities that produce cash flows directly, such as assets that can be sold independently and without a significant economic penalty (for example, without significant business disruption), the measurement basis that provides the most relevant information is likely to be a current value that incorporates current estimates of the amount, timing and uncertainty of the future cash flows.

6.57 When a business activity of an entity involves managing financial assets and financial liabilities with the objective of collecting contractual cash flows, amortised cost may provide relevant information that can be used to derive the margin between the interest earned on the assets and the interest incurred on the liabilities. However, in assessing whether amortised cost will provide useful information, it is also necessary to consider the characteristics of the financial asset or financial liability. Amortised cost is unlikely to provide relevant information about cash flows that depend on factors other than principal and interest.

Faithful representation

6.58 When assets and liabilities are related in some way, using different measurement bases for those assets and liabilities can create a measurement inconsistency (accounting mismatch). If financial statements contain measurement inconsistencies, those financial statements may not faithfully represent some aspects of the entity’s financial position and financial performance. Consequently, in some circumstances, using the same measurement basis for related assets and liabilities may provide users of financial statements with information that is more useful than the information that would result from using different measurement bases. This may be particularly likely when the cash flows from one asset or liability are directly linked to the cash flows from another asset or liability.

6.59 As noted in paragraphs 2.13 and 2.18, although a perfectly faithful representation is free from error, this does not mean that measures must be perfectly accurate in all respects.

6.60 When a measure cannot be determined directly by observing prices in an active market and must instead be estimated, measurement uncertainty arises. The level of measurement uncertainty associated with a particular measurement basis may affect whether information provided by that measurement basis provides a faithful representation of an entity’s financial position and financial performance. A high level of measurement uncertainty does not necessarily prevent the use of a measurement basis that provides relevant information. However, in some cases the level of measurement uncertainty is so high that information provided by a measurement basis might not provide a sufficiently faithful representation (see paragraph 2.22). In such cases, it is appropriate to consider selecting a different measurement basis that would also result in relevant information.

6.61 Measurement uncertainty is different from both outcome uncertainty and existence uncertainty:

  1. outcome uncertainty arises when there is uncertainty about the amount or timing of any inflow or outflow of economic benefits that will result from an asset or liability.
  2. existence uncertainty arises when it is uncertain whether an asset or a liability exists. Paragraphs 5.12–5.14 discuss how existence uncertainty may affect decisions about whether an entity recognises an asset or liability when it is uncertain whether that asset or liability exists.

6.62 The presence of outcome uncertainty or existence uncertainty may sometimes contribute to measurement uncertainty. However, outcome uncertainty or existence uncertainty does not necessarily result in measurement uncertainty. For example, if the fair value of an asset can be determined directly by observing prices in an active market, no measurement uncertainty is associated with the measurement of that fair value, even if it is uncertain how much cash the asset will ultimately produce and hence there is outcome uncertainty.

Enhancing qualitative characteristics and the cost constraint

6.63 The enhancing qualitative characteristics of comparability, understandability and verifiability, and the cost constraint, have implications for the selection of a measurement basis. The following paragraphs discuss those implications. Paragraphs 6.69–6.76 discuss further implications specific to particular measurement bases. The enhancing qualitative characteristic of timeliness has no specific implications for measurement.

6.64 Just as cost constrains other financial reporting decisions, it also constrains the selection of a measurement basis. Hence, in selecting a measurement basis, it is important to consider whether the benefits of the information provided to users of financial statements by that measurement basis are likely to justify the costs of providing and using that information.

6.65 Consistently using the same measurement bases for the same items, either from period to period within a reporting entity or in a single period across entities, can help make financial statements more comparable.

6.66 A change in measurement basis can make financial statements less understandable. However, a change may be justified if other factors outweigh the reduction in understandability, for example, if the change results in more relevant information. If a change is made, users of financial statements may need explanatory information to enable them to understand the effect of that change.

6.67 Understandability depends partly on how many different measurement bases are used and on whether they change over time. In general, if more measurement bases are used in a set of financial statements, the resulting information becomes more complex and, hence, less understandable and the totals or subtotals in the statement of financial position and the statement(s) of financial performance become less informative. However, it could be appropriate to use more measurement bases if that is necessary to provide useful information.

6.68 Verifiability is enhanced by using measurement bases that result in measures that can be independently corroborated either directly, for example, by observing prices, or indirectly, for example, by checking inputs to a model. If a measure cannot be verified, users of financial statements may need explanatory information to enable them to understand how the measure was determined. In some such cases, it may be necessary to specify the use of a different measurement basis.

Historical cost

6.69 In many situations, it is simpler, and hence less costly, to measure historical cost than it is to measure a current value. In addition, measures determined applying a historical cost measurement basis are generally well understood and, in many cases, verifiable.

6.70 However, estimating consumption and identifying and measuring impairment losses or onerous liabilities can be subjective. Hence, the historical cost of an asset or liability can sometimes be as difficult to measure or verify as a current value.

6.71 Using a historical cost measurement basis, identical assets acquired, or liabilities incurred, at different times can be reported in the financial statements at different amounts. This can reduce comparability, both from period to period for a reporting entity and in a single period across entities.

Current value

6.72 Because fair value is determined from the perspective of market participants, not from an entity-specific perspective, and is independent of when the asset was acquired or the liability was incurred, identical assets or liabilities measured at fair value will, in principle, be measured at the same amount by entities that have access to the same markets. This can enhance comparability both from period to period for a reporting entity and in a single period across entities. In contrast, because value in use and fulfilment value reflect an entity-specific perspective, those measures could differ for identical assets or liabilities in different entities. Those differences may reduce comparability, particularly if the assets or liabilities contribute to cash flows in a similar manner.

6.73 If the fair value of an asset or liability can be determined directly by observing prices in an active market, the process of fair value measurement is low-cost, simple and easy to understand; and the fair value can be verified through direct observation.

6.74 Valuation techniques, sometimes including the use of cash-flow-based measurement techniques, may be needed to estimate fair value when it cannot be observed directly in an active market and are generally needed when determining value in use and fulfilment value. Depending on the techniques used:

  1. estimating inputs to the valuation and applying the valuation technique may be costly and complex.
  2. the inputs into the process may be subjective and it may be difficult to verify both the inputs and the validity of the process itself. Consequently, the measures of identical assets or liabilities may differ. That would reduce comparability.

6.75 In many cases, value in use cannot be determined meaningfully for an individual asset used in combination with other assets. Instead, the value in use is determined for a group of assets and the result may then need to be allocated to individual assets. This process can be subjective and arbitrary. In addition, estimates of value in use for an asset may inadvertently reflect the effect of synergies with other assets in the group. Hence, determining the value in use of an asset used in combination with other assets can be a costly process and its complexity and subjectivity reduces verifiability. For these reasons, value in use may not be a practical measurement basis for regular remeasurements of such assets. However, it may be useful for occasional remeasurements of assets, for example, when it is used in an impairment test to determine whether historical cost is fully recoverable.

6.76 Using a current cost measurement basis, identical assets acquired or liabilities incurred at different times are reported in the financial statements at the same amount. This can enhance comparability, both from period to period for a reporting entity and in a single period across entities. However, determining current cost can be complex, subjective and costly. For example, as noted in paragraph 6.22, it may be necessary to estimate the current cost of an asset by adjusting the current price of a new asset to reflect the current age and condition of the asset held by the entity. In addition, because of changes in technology and changes in business practices, many assets would not be replaced with identical assets. Thus, a further subjective adjustment to the current price of a new asset would be required in order to estimate the current cost of an asset equivalent to the existing asset. Also, splitting changes in current cost carrying amounts between the current cost of consumption and the effect of changes in prices (see paragraph 6.42) may be complex and require arbitrary assumptions. Because of these difficulties, current cost measures may lack verifiability and understandability.

Factors specific to initial measurement

6.77 Paragraphs 6.43–6.76 discuss factors to consider when selecting a measurement basis, whether for initial recognition or subsequent measurement. Paragraphs 6.78–6.82 discuss some additional factors to consider at initial recognition.

6.78 At initial recognition, the cost of an asset acquired, or of a liability incurred, as a result of an event that is a transaction on market terms is normally similar to its fair value at that date, unless transaction costs are significant. Nevertheless, even if those two amounts are similar, it is necessary to describe what measurement basis is used at initial recognition. If historical cost will be used subsequently, that measurement basis is also normally appropriate at initial recognition. Similarly, if a current value will be used subsequently, it is also normally appropriate at initial recognition. Using the same measurement basis for initial recognition and subsequent measurement avoids recognising income or expenses at the time of the first subsequent measurement solely because of a change in measurement basis (see paragraph 6.48).

6.79 When an entity acquires an asset, or incurs a liability, in exchange for transferring another asset or liability as a result of a transaction on market terms, the initial measure of the asset acquired, or the liability incurred, determines whether any income or expenses arise from the transaction. When an asset or liability is measured at cost, no income or expenses arise at initial recognition, unless income or expenses arise from the derecognition of the transferred asset or liability, or unless the asset is impaired or the liability is onerous.

6.80 Assets may be acquired, or liabilities may be incurred, as a result of an event that is not a transaction on market terms. For example:

  1. the transaction price may be affected by relationships between the parties, or by financial distress or other duress of one of the parties;
  2. an asset may be granted to the entity free of charge by a government or donated to the entity by another party;
  3. a liability may be imposed by legislation or regulation; or
  4. a liability to pay compensation or a penalty may arise from an act of wrongdoing.

6.81 In such cases, measuring the asset acquired, or the liability incurred, at its historical cost may not provide a faithful representation of the entity’s assets and liabilities and of any income or expenses arising from the transaction or other event. Hence, it may be appropriate to measure the asset acquired, or the liability incurred, at deemed cost, as described in paragraph 6.6. Any difference between that deemed cost and any consideration given or received would be recognised as income or expenses at initial recognition.

6.82 When assets are acquired, or liabilities incurred, as a result of an event that is not a transaction on market terms, all relevant aspects of the transaction or other event need to be identified and considered. For example, it may be necessary to recognise other assets, other liabilities, contributions from holders of equity claims or distributions to holders of equity claims to faithfully represent the substance of the effect of the transaction or other event on the entity’s financial position (see paragraphs 4.59–4.62) and any related effect on the entity’s financial performance.

More than one measurement basis

6.83 Sometimes, consideration of the factors described in paragraphs 6.43–6.76 may lead to the conclusion that more than one measurement basis is needed for an asset or liability and for related income and expenses in order to provide relevant information that faithfully represents both the entity’s financial position and its financial performance.

6.84 In most cases, the most understandable way to provide that information is:

  1. to use a single measurement basis both for the asset or liability in the statement of financial position and for related income and expenses in the statement(s) of financial performance; and
  2. to provide in the notes additional information applying a different measurement basis.

6.85 However, in some cases, that information is more relevant, or results in a more faithful representation of both the entity’s financial position and its financial performance, through the use of:

  1. a current value measurement basis for the asset or liability in the statement of financial position; and
  2. a different measurement basis for the related income and expenses in the statement of profit or loss1 (see paragraphs 7.17–7.18).

In selecting those measurement bases, it is necessary to consider the factors discussed in paragraphs 6.43–6.76.

6.86 In such cases, the total income or total expenses arising in the period from the change in the current value of the asset or liability is separated and classified (see paragraphs 7.14–7.19) so that:

  1. the statement of profit or loss includes the income or expenses measured applying the measurement basis selected for that statement; and
  2. other comprehensive income includes all the remaining income or expenses. As a result, the accumulated other comprehensive income related to that asset or liability equals the difference between:
    1. the carrying amount of the asset or liability in the statement of financial position; and
    2. the carrying amount that would have been determined applying the measurement basis selected for the statement of profit or loss.

Measurement of equity

6.87 The total carrying amount of equity (total equity) is not measured directly. It equals the total of the carrying amounts of all recognised assets less the total of the carrying amounts of all recognised liabilities.

6.88 Because general purpose financial statements are not designed to show an entity’s value, the total carrying amount of equity will not generally equal:

  1. the aggregate market value of equity claims on the entity;
  2. the amount that could be raised by selling the entity as a whole on a going concern basis; or
  3. the amount that could be raised by selling all of the entity’s assets and settling all of its liabilities.

6.89 Although total equity is not measured directly, it may be appropriate to measure directly the carrying amount of some individual classes of equity (see paragraph 4.65) and some components of equity (see paragraph 4.66). Nevertheless, because total equity is measured as a residual, at least one class of equity cannot be measured directly. Similarly, at least one component of equity cannot be measured directly.

6.90 The total carrying amount of an individual class of equity or component of equity is normally positive, but can be negative in some circumstances. Similarly, total equity is generally positive, but it can be negative, depending on which assets and liabilities are recognised and on how they are measured.

Cash-flow-based measurement techniques

6.91 Sometimes, a measure cannot be observed directly. In some such cases, one way toestimate the measure is by using cash-flow-based measurement techniques. Such techniques are not measurement bases. They are techniques used in applying a measurement basis. Hence, when using such a technique, it is necessary to identify which measurement basis is used and the extent to which the technique reflects the factors applicable to that measurement basis. For example, if the measurement basis is fair value, the applicable factors are those described in paragraph 6.14.

6.92 Cash-flow-based measurement techniques can be used in applying a modified measurement basis, for example, fulfilment value modified to exclude the effect of the possibility that the entity may fail to fulfil a liability (own credit risk). Modifying measurement bases may sometimes result in information that is more relevant to the users of financial statements or that may be less costly to produce or to understand. However, modified measurement bases may also be more difficult for users of financial statements to understand.

6.93 Outcome uncertainty (see paragraph 6.61(a)) arises from uncertainties about the amount or timing of future cash flows. Those uncertainties are important characteristics of assets and liabilities. When measuring an asset or liability by reference to estimates of uncertain future cash flows, one factor to consider is possible variations in the estimated amount or timing of those cash flows (see paragraph 6.14(b)). Those variations are considered in selecting a single amount from within the range of possible cash flows. The amount selected is itself sometimes the amount of a possible outcome, but this is not always the case. The amount that provides the most relevant information is usually one from within the central part of the range (a central estimate). Different central estimates provide different information. For example:

  1. the expected value (the probability-weighted average, also known as the statistical mean) reflects the entire range of outcomes and gives more weight to the outcomes that are more likely. The expected value is not intended to predict the ultimate inflow or outflow of cash or other economic benefits arising from that asset or liability.
  2. the maximum amount that is more likely than not to occur (similar to the statistical median) indicates that the probability of a subsequent loss is no more than 50% and that the probability of a subsequent gain is no more than 50%.
  3. the most likely outcome (the statistical mode) is the single most likely ultimate inflow or outflow arising from an asset or liability.

6.94 A central estimate depends on estimates of future cash flows and possible variations in their amounts or timing. It does not capture the price for bearing the uncertainty that the ultimate outcome may differ from that central estimate (that is, the factor described in paragraph 6.14(d)).

6.95 No central estimate gives complete information about the range of possible outcomes. Hence users may need information about the range of possible outcomes.