Since Luca Pacioli wrote the first accounting text back in 1494, thousands of books have been published to explain the how's of accounting--how to value assets, audit financial statements, comply with tax laws, estimate product costs, evaluate corporate performance, and so on. Missing in this journey has been a work that discusses the major why's of accounting practice. In More Than a Numbers Game: A Brief History of Accounting, author and financial expert Tom King fills this void by examining key issues and events that have transformed accounting from a tool used by American railroad managers to communicate with absent British investors into an enabler of corporate fraud during the Internet and telecom frenzy. More Than a Numbers Game revolves around a history of ideas associated with accounting's use by U.S. corporations. Each chapter--which explores a controversial accounting topic that has emerged over the past century--is filled with vivid historical background and lively discussions of the people involved, to give relevance to the concepts covered. Simple examples and light humor make complex subjects understandable to the informed layperson. This book not only examines the purposes and limitations of financial, cost, tax, and regulatory accounting, it also provides context for many of accounting's most divisive issues, including: Management complications that arise from inflation's uneven nature Consequences of managers' fear of showing earnings volatility The unsolved mystery of accounting forinternally developed intangible assets Why debt rose into and then fell out of favor with corporate management and their boards How compensation with options replaced debt as a governance tool in the 1990s How politics hobbled efforts to standardize accounting practice Through engaging anecdotes, illustrative examples, and real-world case studies, More Than a Numbers Game also reveals how economics, finance, law, and business customs have contributed to accounting's overall development. With this book as your guide, you'll discover that accounting is not a static discipline, but an evolving tool full of idiosyncrasies. More Than a Numbers Game takes a detailed look at more than one hundred years of corporate accounting history in the United States--from the initial use of double-entry bookkeeping to Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX)--and shows how accounting has solved numerous financial problems as well as created substantial controversy along the way.
Praise for MORE THAN A NUMBERS GAME "More Than a Numbers Game is a revelatory history of how accounting conventions have shaped business reality, for good and ill." --Justin Fox, Editor at Large, Fortune "Mr. King's book should be of interest to both those who have lived through the accounting debates and debacles of the past half century and those just beginning their business careers. By focusing on a dozen or so major developments, particularly those with negative consequences, the book helps explain why good financial information is so critical to capital markets. Equal doses of insight and humor make this an easy-to-read, but hard-to-forget summary of an important business topic." --Dennis R. Beresford, Ernst & Young Executive Professor of Accounting, The University of Georgia, and former chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (1987-97) "More Than a Numbers Game is a must-read for accounting students looking for a supplement to traditional textbooks. It offers a business perspective to accounting, providing readers with a holistic overview of taxes, cost accounting, regulation, as well as more traditional financial reporting topics." --Philip A. Laskawy, retired chairman and CEO, Ernst & Young "Tom King provides even the non-accountant a fascinating look at how accounting rules and practices have evolved into the way corporations are valued today. He is particularly effective in analyzing the 'earnings game' and the growing role of intangible assets in the valuation process." --Louis M. Thompson Jr., President and CEO, National Investor Relations Institute "Tom King takes a very important topic in today's world, accounting, and puts it into a perspective that sheds an entirely new light on the importance of accounting and the intrinsic shortcomings of the profession. Whether you use GAAP accounting, do quarterly earnings, or are a private company, there is more than meets the eye to the accounting profession. King's book is an invaluable piece of work to demystify what tends to be a mystery." --Jeff Joerres, Chairman and CEO, Manpower Inc.