Du dépérissement à l'amortissement, enquête sur l'histoire d'un concept et de sa traduction comptable

Abstract : This study concerns accounting practices of French enterprises from the Cabinet under Colbert until to 1914. It is essentially based on firm archives and technical litterature. At the end of the XVIIth century, certains managers took account of the wear and tear of fixed assets in their forecasting. Some of them gave an accounting translation. Late XVIIIth - beginning of XIXth century, we come upon entries combining depreciation and capital interest. The industrialization and the rise of joint-stock companies favored the birth of the concept, but the link is not so noticeable as one might think. The practise of depreciation was rare, because fixed assets frequently don't appear in accounts. For many people, they are just a dead stock, the investment is viewed as a consumption. Furthermore, except for the textile industry, which is closely linked to merchant capitalism, entrepreneurs only knew charge and discharge accounting, the traditional model of State finance. Only flows are registered, without organizing the monitoring of fixed assets. Between the 1820s and 1840s, the use of double-entry spread among all industries. Some of the first PLCs were obliged to include depreciation rules in their articles. The setting-up of sinking funds shows us the preoccupation to rebuild the capital initially invested. It was at this moment that the accounting mechanism took its French name : ‘amortissement'. This word was first used for repayment of loans. Railways companies refrained from depreciating, partly because they used bond issues for investing on a massive sacle and because the level of theirs dividends was guaranteed by the State. On the other hand, numerous industrial companies used depreciation as a tool for intensive self-financing. This sometimes generates conflicts between managers and stockholders. Despite some attempts to regulate, practises were not successfully brought into line before income tax legislation in 1914.
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  • HAL Id : tel-00548896, version 1

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Yannick Lemarchand. Du dépérissement à l'amortissement, enquête sur l'histoire d'un concept et de sa traduction comptable. Gestion et management. Université Paris XII Val de Marne, 1993. Français. ⟨tel-00548896⟩

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