Accounts: Their Construction and Interpretation for Business Men and Students of Affairs

By William Morse Cole | Go to book overview

ACCOUNTS THEIR CONSTRUCTION AND INTER- PRETATION CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

IT is common to read in a report concerning the failure or suspension of a business house or corporation that not until experts have been at work upon the books for several days or weeks can any one learn the exact state of assets, liabilities, or loss. The frequency with which this statement is made naturally suggests a causal connection between accounting and success. The connection suggested will be found on examination to be existent in a large proportion of the cases of business failure.

The average business man does not know what things cost him. The head of the manufacturing department of one of the large consolidations, commonly called " trusts," recently remarked that before consolidation he used to wonder how some of his competitors could afford to take contracts at their own bids. After the consolidation he discovered that these competitors never knew even approximately the cost of manufacturing their goods and often took contracts at an inevitable loss -- which simply happened to be made good by large profits on other contracts. This is typical for much of our American business, but good accounting can forestall many of the elements of bad luck and show just where lies the good. In view of the remarkable success of American trade in spite of much bad accounting, -- or, rather, in spite of no accounting at all in thousands of establishments, -- one is forced to anticipate phenomenal success when good accounting shall become general.

Perhaps no field in connection with business activity in America has advanced so little in the last twenty-five years as accounting. The changes in the economics of industry have been marvelous:

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