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It appears that the Accounting Stack Exchange Beta failed to launch. Reviewing the business and personal finance stack exchanges, it seems the economics stackexchange is the the best place to ask accounting questions.

Numerous JEL classification codes cover accounting topics including M4 – Accounting and Auditing but also a number of accounting questions fit into corporate finance. The tricky part to admitting these questions is making sure that accounting questions that are more about business administration, legal, taxes, and personal finance than accounting are not posted. Suggestions and different opinions are welcome.

Here are some accounting questions that seem firmly on topic on Economics SE:

  1. Depreciating companies intangible assets
  2. What is “Stated-capital”?
  3. How does depreciation affect the cash flow in a tax-paying company?
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    $\begingroup$ My guts say no, as I dont think there's many questions that "median economics" can answer/find interesting about accounting. If you want to make a better case, why dont you create a short list of questions from the failed beta that you'd like to see migrated? $\endgroup$
    – FooBar
    Feb 17 '16 at 8:59
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    $\begingroup$ How does one see the closed question queue? $\endgroup$
    – BKay
    Feb 17 '16 at 10:18
  • $\begingroup$ I just noticed that the percentage of question answered "needs work" in area51. I don't know whether off-topic questions are counted in there. If not, we may want to get better at answering more questions before we jump to expanding the range of questions to be answered. $\endgroup$
    – HRSE
    Feb 24 '16 at 4:16
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I will tend to agree with the OP. My angle is : what would be interesting and useful content and a match to econimics.se, is questions about contrasting/reconciling accounting and economics concepts (usually at the micro level but not only) that sometimes go under the same name. Examples:

  • Do accountants mean the same thing as economists when they talk about "profits"? What are the differences? Can the two be reconciled?
  • How does the "production function" concept of Economics connect (if at all) to the "Sales/Revenue" item we see in a Profit & Loss statement?
  • The most widely used depreciation method in a firm's accounting books is the "Straight-line" method, where a fix proportion of a fixed asset's acquisition cost (historic or re-estimated) is booked as depreciation charge every period. On the contrary, almost exclusively, economic models employ the equivalent of "Declining-Balance" method. Who is more to the mark? Doesn't this create misalignment problems in microeconometric studies?
  • Economics employ the concept of "adjustment-costs" in capital investment. Economists treat these costs as non-productive, as a dead-burden to increase the actually productive capital base. But Accounting principles prescribe that most of such costs are booked as an increase to the acquisition cost of the core asset (i.e. not as current expenses). What kind of problems may this create when we look to balance sheet data in order to test an economic theory?
  • Public sector finances of many countries are being nowadays presented using the approach and principles of internationally accepted accounting principles (like "Statement of Financial Position", "Cash Flow Statement", etc). In one of these I have seen negative "Cash available" at the beginning of a period. How is this possible? (It is never observed for private companies).
  • Also, when assets of a public sector are included in a "Statement of Financial Position", what assets are these? Do they include natural resources owned by the state?

My proposal :

a) Since the Accounting.se site failed to launch, remove "Accounting" from our "Off-topic" guidance.

b) Mention it in the "On topic but" category

either in the "Corporate Finance/Business economics" (with something like "Questions about Accounting theory fall in this category too"),

or separately as

"Accounting Theory: questions about Accounting Theory, especially as regards its relation to Economics may be posted here. Questions about tax legislation, or legal & administrative things that accountants have to deal with as professionals, will be closed as off-topic, and so will questions asking guidance about performing specific accounting tasks."

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  • $\begingroup$ I perceive a qualitative difference between "accounting theory" and "accounting questions that are related to economics / interesting to economists". The latter we already do, and it is on-topic. I don't see how accounting theory (that is not related to economics) is related to economics. $\endgroup$
    – FooBar
    Feb 18 '16 at 13:43
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    $\begingroup$ In other words, I'm fine in Accounting Theory: questions about Accounting Theory, if and only if related to Economics may be posted here. $\endgroup$
    – FooBar
    Feb 18 '16 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ @FooBar Strengthening of the message, certainly won't hurt indeed. $\endgroup$ Feb 18 '16 at 13:50
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    $\begingroup$ Among the types of questions to be closed as off-topic might be added: "questions asking guidance about the proper accounting treatment of particular items or circumstances under particular accounting jurisdictions". $\endgroup$ Feb 20 '16 at 16:49
  • $\begingroup$ @AdamBailey Thanks Adam. This is what I had in mind when I wrote "performing specific accounting tasks", but it never hurts to be as explicit as possible. $\endgroup$ Feb 20 '16 at 18:11
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Now that we do have a list of questions, we can start discussing the matter.

Corporate Finance

Observation: These are all about corporate finance. So why not just include corporate-finance in economics?

If corporate finance, why not finance?

However, the intersection between corporate-finance and economics is pretty small. The intersection between corporate-finance and finance, however, is pretty large. If we were to go this way, it is only consequential to include the whole (academic) finance on this site. This however can only work if we rename into Economics and Finance, or something the like. This would not intersect with the non-academic money.stackexchange, but it would interfere with quant.stackexchange.

Summary

In the end, we are left with two choices:

  • Stay Economics-stackexchange
  • Become Economics-and-Finance-stackexchange.

Not that im completely against the latter, but we should be aware of what we're doing, and whether and why we want that.

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  • $\begingroup$ Corporate Finance already appears in the "On topic but" category in our guidance. Also the questions I have listed in my answer have nothing to do with corporate finance. So I don't see as accurate your "two-choices" approach. We should by all means stay Economics.se, and, as regards accounting questions, not-close those that may be useful to economics. $\endgroup$ Feb 18 '16 at 13:16
  • $\begingroup$ @AlecosPapadopoulos I was referring to the questions in the opening post. Your questions are still economics questions, and qualitatively different from those linked. If all you say is "Leave those open that are relevant to economics", then I guess, that's what we've been doing all along, and there is no reaction on our side w.r.t. the closing of the accounting beta. $\endgroup$
    – FooBar
    Feb 18 '16 at 13:42
  • $\begingroup$ @FooBar Using JEL codes as a guide, Corporate Finance falls under category G, Financial Economics, and more specifically has the code G3. My instinct, however, makes me relate corporate finance to finance rather than economics. My hunch is that the majority of students in both subjects would share a similar view. It might be useful to think about typical University school / course structures and try to align economics se along with what students of economics kind of expect economics to be?! It's semi-arbitrary, but not as strict as using JEL, which might itself not be perfect. $\endgroup$ Feb 22 '16 at 20:52

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