Applications of Normative Economics & Normative Accounting for Intangibles

Rethinking Capital’s Response to Bill Gates’ How to Avoid a Climate Disaster

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The portion of the world's economy that doesn’t fit with the old model just keeps getting larger. That has major implications for everything from tax law to economic policy to which cities thrive and which cities fall behind, but in general, the rules that govern the economy haven't kept up. This is one of the biggest trends in the global economy that isn't getting enough attention.’
Bill Gates, reviewing Capitalism Without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy

Today's accounting practice defies GAAP and accounting standards and has thereby created a system in which the incentives to transition are seemingly illogical and upside down. Rethinking Capital has stated that net-zero is guaranteed to fail without introducing changes aligned with public interests.

This paper explains how Rethinking Capital's normative accounting theory of intangibles could be the missing link. It supports Bill Gates' observation that the rules have failed to keep pace with the transition to an intangible economy and explains why this is the root cause behind today's climate and social inequity. It explains the blueprint for today's economic system design, pinpoints how and where to apply a permanent fix and how to test that fix on the net zero transition. Finally, it explains how to secure the fix into new rules that will begin to transform the economic operating system.

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Constrained by Accounting:

Examining How Current Accounting Practice is Constraining the Net Zero Transition

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In February 2020, BP made a commitment to become carbon neutral by 2050, creating an obligation to society and investors. We explore how accounting practice constrains BP’s transition plans. While BP can achieve much of its net zero obligation through technical innovation, these investments will typically be expensed through the income statement, whereas capital expenditures on hydrocarbon projects would tend toward capitalization and slow depreciation through the income statement. And whereas internally-generated innovation will be expensed, intangibles acquired in M&A will be capitalized. Accounting's logic must support BP's net zero obligation as a social imperative and reward its acceleration. Normative accounting for intangibles provides a promising solution to overcome these challenges and restore accounting for net zero decision-making and reporting.

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Constrained by Economics

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The intangible economy is flourishing, while a new more egalitarian society is waiting to emerge in the 21st century, but the mindset and economic institutions that need to change in order to facilitate this transition are locked in the past. This paper examines how out-of-date assumptions and industrial-era myths continue to constrain the transition to a more creative (knowledge-based) economy.

Capitalism has fuelled growth and innovation for generations, lifting millions out of poverty. Economics, as an analytical framework for the study of capitalism, once served us well. But the digital revolution and the rise of intangibles have fundamentally altered the ‘engine of growth’ and operating systems of modern capitalism; it is increasingly clear that neoclassical economics is no longer fit for purpose.

What needs to be done? The field of capitalist thought needs rethinking, reorientation and renewal. Since economics informs the rules of accounting, the impact of economics on accounting practice is also discussed. ‘Constrained by Economics’ then sets out a few principles of normative economics: a framework for building a better future.

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Constrained by Governance

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Constrained by Money

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Synthesis Paper

Changing the Rules of the Net Zero Game

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