The recent global financial crisis has led to extensive criticism of the role of accounting and its use of fair value measurement in causing and spreading the crisis. This paper argues that the debate surrounding fair value vs. historic cost, and relevance versus reliability, is nothing new; it was at the center of early accounting discussions in the AAA (especially by A.C. Littleton and W.A. Paton), the AICPA (especially G.O. May), and the SEC. Although prominent accounting scholars and practitioners in postdepression 1929 focused on the use of historic cost, the paper discusses the decision of the IASB/FASB to move reliability to a secondary characteristic in its recent conceptual framework. This action ignores lessons learned from a century of research, teaching, and practice of accounting.

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