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Liabilities and their Measurement

Discuss about the Credit Risk in Liability Measurement.

The term liabilities are mostly comprehensive in that it makes no trial in distinguishing between commitments and liabilities and instead include all obligations from an organization contracts. They are usually viewed as the present obligation in a given firm that might ascend from its historical events, whose settlement is predictable or anticipated to bring about some expenditure from the firm of capitals symbolizing its economic benefits. They represent bargained prices or standard of the recorded costs applying on both side of statement of the financial position in an organization (Upton Jr, 2009). The amount of liabilities ought to represent present value of future cash outflows to which an organization would not be committed in case debentures were not issued at all. Further, liabilities usually result from the previous transactions or other previous occurrences. In this sense, description of the liabilities does not restrict the liabilities to conditions where there are some legal obligations (Hodder, Hopkins & Schipper, 2014). This means that liabilities are to be recognized in specific situation where equity dictates that an obligation to the external parties presently exists. With these considerations, this paper aims to presents the broader understanding of liabilities, how these liabilities are measured as well as some of the issues of measurement of liabilities based on the IASB framework. In addition, the paper also presents relationship that exists between measurement of the liabilities and decision useful information based on JB Hi-Fi annual report.

Liabilities are usually viewed as the present obligation in a firm that might come from its previous proceedings, whose settlement is anticipated to bring about some drainage from a form of capitals symbolizing its economic benefits (Costa & Guzzo, 2013). As per AISB 44, p.26 liabilities are the present obligations of an organization arising from the previous dealings, settlement of which are anticipated in resulting in outflow from an organization of the capitals symbolizing the economic welfares. As per this for liabilities, there should be anticipated future disposition of the economic welfares to the other firms, there should also be present obligations as well as the past transactions should have created some obligations.

Further, definition of the liabilities does not limit liabilities to conditions where there is some legal obligations. They should be recognized in specific conditions where usual business undertaking or equity dictates that all the obligations are to be external parties. Therefore, as per AISB paragraph 4.15, subsection 28, liabilities could include obligations which are legally enforceable and obligations which are deemed as constructive and equitable. Obligations or liabilities arise from the normal business operations, desire and customer in maintaining decent operations or act in reasonable way. For instance, an organization might decide to correct errors in goods whenever these are deceptive once guarantee period expires, these sums are usually anticipated to have expended whenever products sold are liabilities. Liabilities usually result from the previous transactions or other previous occurrences (Deegan, 2016). For instance, acquisition of products and use of services provide trade payables unless the amount is paid on delivery and receipt of the financial institution loans result in obligation to repay loans. In this sense, description of the liabilities does not restrict the liabilities to conditions where there are some legal obligations (Hodder, Hopkins & Schipper, 2014). This means that liabilities are to be recognized in specific situation where equity dictates that an obligation to the external parties presently exists.

Measurement of Liabilities Based on Class


Prior to issue of the AASB 13, measurement of the liabilities was mainly based on amount needed to settle present obligations. Therefore, as per AASB 13, definition of the fair value is viewed as amount repaid in transferring liabilities. In this case, measuring liabilities at fair value make assumptions that liabilities are transferred into other market paricipants at measurement date. In essence, transfer of the liabilities under AASB 13, 34 (a) assumes that liabilities remain outstanding and market transferee would be needed to fulfill all these obligations. In this case, liabilities are said to remain in existence with market participant assuming liabilities are transferred at the measurement date.

In essence, liabilities are measured in numerous means based on the class of liabilities which has some direct implications for the profit reported. For instance, liabilities could be measured at fair value, present value or on amortized cost passed on type of liabilities being considered (Deegan, 2016). Liabilities are usually measured at the amortized cost unless these liabilities are needed to be measured at the fair value where an organization has chosen measuring liabilities at the fair value vial profit or loss (Henderson, Peirson, Herbohn & Howieson, 2015). For instance, liabilities for salaries and wages for JB Hi-Fi are recognized in provision for the employees’ benefits and measured at present value. These are usually measured as the present values of the anticipated or projected future payments that have to be completed in respects of the services offered by personnel to end of reporting period. 

On other cases, liabilities are measured at fair value whereby it is assumed that liabilities are usually transferred to the market participant at measurement period and that nonperformance risk in relation to liabilities are assumed as being similar after and before the transfer. Thus, reporting organization should consider impacts of credit risk on fair value of liabilities in all times in which liabilities is mostly measured at the fair value. This impact might vary reliant on liabilities, for instance, whether liabilities is the obligation in delivering cash or obligation in delivering nonfinancial liabilities and terms of the credit enhancement in relation to liabilities. For instance, JB Hi-Fi liabilities are approved under AASB 13 at fair value measurements.

Furthermore, liabilities are usually measured based on the original transaction value which is the historical costs (Costa & Guzzo, 2013). This is the current cash equivalent or cash that is received in exchange for assuming liabilities. For instance, if JB Hi-Fi borrowed $ 2 million cash promised to repay this cash in future, liabilities for the company would be valued at around $2 million, cash received in exchange. In addition, JB Hi-Fi account payables are usually measured at contract-price whereby the amount agreed to be paid for the trade payable is paid in actual amount stated on the initial agreement (JB Hi-Fi, 2014).

Impacts of Credit Risk on Fair Value of Liabilities

A crucial feature of liabilities is that an organization has present obligations. These obligations are the duties or responsibilities to perform or act in particular manner. They might be legally enforceable as consequences of statutory requirements or binding contract. The present AISB framework requires estimated of liabilities, resulting from the past occurrence and that are more likely to result in the outflow of the economic resources being treated as the liabilities (AASB, 2004). In essence, according to AISB framework, provisions for overhaul, as well as maintenance would not be taken into account as liabilities of the reporting organization due to absence of obligation to the external organization.


There are few disagreements or issues on how liabilities are measured. For instance, liabilities represent bargained prices. Thus, standard of the recorded costs is usually applied on both sections of statement of the financial position. Furthermore, it is argued that amount of liabilities represent present value of future cash payments in which an organization could not be committed in case debentures are not issued (Deegan, 2016). This means that interest rate is presented as current market rate of the interest for the securities of same type. Further, there are some issues in measuring liabilities in that by measuring liabilities is usually to determine burden or weight of obligations on the statement of financial position which is deemed lowest for which obligation should be efficiently discharged.  This means that liabilities are measured in a manner that is relatively attuned with measurement of the assets.

Components of the AASB frameworks which have been issued give no signal of how the liabilities are to be measured. Some of the most likely techniques provided are current cost, market value and historical costs. Nonetheless, choice of measurement for liabilities has to be determined in reference to objectives or goals of the general purpose financial reporting as well as qualitative features of the financial data. Another issue in measuring liabilities is that it faces an objection to current cash equivalent technique in measuring liabilities since it is said to assume behaviors which are unlikely to take place (Deegan, 2016). In this case, the technique tends to assume that the total liabilities would be settled at end of financial reporting period whenever they are more likely to be permitted to run into maturity.

In addition, measurement of liabilities covered by IASB framework particularly contingent liabilities has been quite difficult due to lack of transparency regarding nature of these contingencies and diversity in the application of accounting guideline in relation to measuring and recognizing these liabilities (Pieri, 2010). Further, measuring liabilities at fair value reflects price that would come in reasonably efficient market and provided that the prior empirical study finds support for the market efficiency being the impediment of financial distress, there is an argument that measurement of liabilities at fair value has evolved without any coherent theoretical basis, hence; there is some issues on how standard setters of IASB framework manages to operationalize these complexity of fair value measurement reflecting the efficient price. This means that measurement of liabilities at fair value lack any unified theory as it only employ some complex assumptions. Measurement of liabilities at fair value also have some issues in that when credit risks in the liability measurement increases, the reported value of the liabilities is said to decrease, with variation in the value reported as the income statement profit. These gains or profit are said to be counterintuitive making the area of measurement of liabilities at fair value a questionable measurement approach (Costa & Guzzo, 2013).  

Original Transaction Value for Measuring Liabilities

Another issue in measuring liabilities is showing the impact of the own credit risks for the liabilities recognized at the fair value; that is, variation in the value as a result of variation in liabilities’ credit risks. This could result in some gains being recognized in the income whenever liabilities has had credit downgrade or losses being recognized when credit risk improves. This issue is problematic in case IASB had adopted a technique same to measurement and classification of the assets, where the hybrid instruments are accounted for at the fair value (Teixeira, 2014).


Liabilities treatment and categorization results in any payment of instruments being treated as interests or being charged to the earnings. This might affect an organization’s capacity in repaying its dividends on shares. Liabilities are recognized in the annual report whenever it is possible that drainage of the capitals symbolizing the economic welfares would arise from the payment of the current obligations and sum at which payment would take place could be measured dependably. In determining whether liabilities are in existence, actions or intentions of the management has to be taken into consideration (Beke, 2013). This implies representation or actions of an organization governing body or management, or variation in economic environment, that might directly influence actions or reasonable expectations of those outside organization, and even if they do not have any legal entitlement, they could have some other sanctions which could leave an organization with unrealistic alternatives in making particular future sacrifice of some economic benefits. These obligations are at times referred to as the constructive or equitable obligations. In determining whether constructive or equitable obligations really exists, and thus whether liability has to be recognized in balance sheet of an organization, it is relatively tricky than identifying the legal obligations and at many instances judgment is needed in determining if constructive or equitable obligation exists (Deegan, 2016). The most important considerations is mainly on whether an organization has realistic alternatives in making any future sacrifice of the economic benefits.

Liabilities are also categorized into non-current and current liabilities. The non-current liabilities comprises of those liabilities that an organization anticipate to settle after a short period from reporting date whilst current liabilities are those liabilities an organization anticipate to repay before one year ends from reporting date (Barker & McGeachin, 2011). In the annual report, those liabilities categorized as non-current liabilities includes debenture and long-term debt or loans while current liabilities include bank overdraft, tax payable, trade payables as well as short-term loans. This is mainly based on liquidity expected timing of future sacrifice, level of the security of the guarantee, conditions attached to liabilities as well as source of the liabilities.

Present Obligations and Estimated Liabilities

Basically, in JB Hi-Fi annual report 2016, liabilities are categorized into current liabilities and non-current liabilities. In this case, current liabilities are trade and the other payables, provisions, the current tax liabilities, deferred revenue as well as other current liabilities totaling to around $1,257.2 million (JB Hi-Fi, 2014). On the other hand, non-current liabilities for JB Hi-Fi comprised of borrowings, provisions, deferred revenue as well as other non-current liabilities totaling to $555.3 million.

A decision by an organization’s management in acquitting assets does not give rise to the present liabilities. Instead a liability is said to arise whenever assets are delivered or an organization enter into some irrevocable agreement in acquiring assets. Therefore, liabilities could also be measured by utilizing significant degree of the approximation which is useful in decision making process (Australian Accounting Research Foundation, 1998). Further, liabilities are usually documented at sum of the profits acknowledged in exchange of obligations or at sum of the cash equivalents or cash estimated to be repaid in order to gratify liabilities in normal operations of an organization this significant in decision making information since it assist in ascertaining whether an organization in having significant amount of liabilities or not. They are also carried at undiscounted amount of cash equivalent which would be needed in settling obligations (Deegan, 2016). Basically, liabilities are usually logged at present discount value of the net cash outflows which is expected to be needed in settling liabilities in normal operations of the business this is significant when it comes to decision making information. This is because by measuring liabilities at present discount value the company would be getting relevant information that is crucial for decision making process.

The nonperformance risks are those risks where an obligation or a liability would not be fulfilled and impacts value at which liabilities are transferred. Thus, fair value of liabilities is crucial since it indicate nonperformance risk in relation to liabilities which is crucial during decision-making process in an organization (Deegan, 2016). Furthermore, measurement of liabilities at the fair value via profit or loss is closely related in decision making information since specific liabilities are usually needed to be at the fair value via the profit or loss like liabilities held for derivatives and trading whilst others are usually measured at the amortized cost unless these liabilities has some embedded derivative or an organization elects fair value option.


According to Upton (2009), liabilities are said to remain in existence and are dealt with by market participants making assumption of the liabilities transferred at the measurement period. Further, for some liabilities, it is found that observable market might exist and the quoted price might be used in measuring fair value of liabilities. Nonetheless, in case such case is not available, the assessment methods have to be utilized. The main goal of using fair value measurement for liabilities when applying valuation methods is to appraise price which would be repaid in transferring liabilities in between the market players at measurement period under the current market situations. Therefore, in all scenarios, an organization has to maximize utilization of the most significant observable inputs as well as minimize utilization of the unobservable inputs. In other cases, measuring of liabilities is help as the assets by other firms which is useful in decision making of an organization. For instance, loans are recognized by JB Hi-Fi as debts, where the measurement of these loans is mostly at fair value and is computed from perspective of the market player which holds identical items as the asset at the measurement date (JB Hi-Fi, 2014). These are also crucial for decision making since they help in evaluating the liquidity level of JB Hi-Fi where the total value of its liabilities or debts is related with its total assets in order to obtain total debt to assets ratios which is used in evaluating long-term solvency level of the company. In addition, measurement of liabilities is related to decision making information since it provide useful information on how an organization use to repay its liabilities which is crucial in decision making.

Issues in Measuring Liabilities

Conclusion

In conclusion, liabilities are usually viewed as the present obligation in a firm that might come from its previous proceedings, whose payment is anticipated or anticipated to bring about some drainage from a firm of capitals symbolizing its economic benefits. They represent bargained prices or standard of the recorded costs applying on both side of statement of the financial position in an organization. This means that liabilities are to be recognized in specific situation where equity dictates that an obligation to the external parties presently exists. Further, it can be concluded that there are numerous disagreements on how liabilities are measured. This is based on the fact liabilities could be measured at fair value, present value or on amortized cost passed on type of liabilities being considered. For instance, in our case, liabilities on salaries and wages payables for JB Hi-Fi are recognized in provision for the employees’ benefits and measured at fair value. There are few disagreements or issues on how liabilities are measured. For instance, liabilities represent bargained prices. Thus, standard of the recorded costs is usually applied on both sections of statement of the financial position. Furthermore, it is can be concluded that amount of liabilities represent present value of future cash payments in which an organization could not be committed in case debentures are not issued. Further, there are some issues in measuring liabilities in that by measuring liabilities is usually to determine burden or weight of obligations on the statement of financial position which is deemed lowest for which obligation should be efficiently discharged.  This means that liabilities are measured in a manner that is relatively attuned with measurement of the assets. Another issue in measuring liabilities is that it faces an objection to current cash equivalent technique in measuring liabilities since it is said to assume behaviors which are unlikely to take place.

References

AASB, F. (2004). Framework for the Preparation and Presentation of Financial Statements. AASB (AASB).

Australian Accounting Research Foundation (AARF), (1998). Measurement in Financial Accounting, Accounting Theory Monograph, AARF, Melbourne, p. 36.

Barker, R., & McGeachin, A. (2011). The recognition and measurement of liabilities in IFRS.

Beke, J. (2013). International Accounting Standardization. Chartridge Books Oxford.

Clor-Proell, S., Koonce, L., & White, B. (2015). How do financial statement users evaluate hybrid financial instruments?.

Costa, M., & Guzzo, G. (2013). Fair value accounting versus historical cost accounting: A theoretical framework for judgement in financial crisis. Corporate Ownership & Control, 11(1), 146-152.

Deegan, C., (2016). Australian Financial Accounting, 8th edition, North Ryde : McGraw-Hill. ISBN: 9781743764022 (pbk)

Henderson, S., Peirson, G., Herbohn, K., & Howieson, B. (2015). Issues in financial accounting. Pearson Higher Education AU.

Hodder, L., Hopkins, P., & Schipper, K. (2014). Fair value measurement in financial reporting. Foundations and Trends® in Accounting, 8(3-4), 143-270.

JB Hi-Fi. (2014). JB Hi-Fi annual report 2014; Retrieved at 8th May 2017 from; https://www.annualreports.com/HostedData/AnnualReportArchive/J/ASX_JBH_2014.pdf

 Pieri, V. (2010). The relevance and the dynamics of goodwill values under IAS/IFRS: empirical evidences from the 2005-2009 consolidated financial statements of the major companies listed in Italy.

Teixeira, A. (2014). The International Accounting Standards Board and evidence-informed standard-setting. Accounting in Europe, 11(1), 5-12.

Upton Jr, W. S. (2009). Credit risk in liability measurement. Staff paper accompanying Discussion Paper DP, 2.

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