I’m in New York for the North American publication of Double Entry (with its international subtitle ‘How the merchants of Venice created modern finance’). I’ll be talking about my book at 6pm tomorrow evening, Wednesday 17 October, at Lerner Hall, Columbia University, New York city.
I’ll be talking about the Renaissance monk and mathematician Luca Pacioli (the ‘father of accounting’) and double-entry bookkeeping, and how they conquered the world. With a supporting cast including Leonardo da Vinci, Josiah Wedgwood, Senator Robert Kennedy, Jay Gatsby, Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister, Robinson Crusoe, Ben Bernanke, Alan Greenspan, Lehman Brothers and the 2008 financial meltdown, and more. So if you’re in New York, come along.
In other news, I plan to blog here more regularly in the next few months. I’m planning a second post on the ‘cutting edge‘ of accounting after some fascinating conversations in London with accountants who are actually working at this cutting edge. I learnt that the accounting innovations (‘revolution’ might be too strong a word but these changes are big and their implications equally so) I wrote about here in May after the round table discussion with three leading Australian accountants are happening at speed in the rest of the world. The leading force in these changes, unexpectedly perhaps, is South Africa, but they’re also happening in Europe and the UK. The changes mostly pertain to accounting for nature, ‘natural capital’, but also for intellectual capital and other non-monetary value. At the corporate level these new moves are called ‘integrated reporting’.
But as I learnt from John de Graaf, whom I met at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival in September and who has his finger on the ‘future of the GDP’ pulse, a similar push to account for natural capital is happening at the national level with GDP accounting and is also proceeding apace. De Graaf’s new book, What’s the Economy for, Anyway?, details the limitations of our current GDP accounts and how they might be improved to reflect the things we do value, but which are not (yet?) part of the money economy so are not currently counted as national wealth.
These mooted – and by the look of it inevitable – changes are controversial. They are vehemently opposed by George Monbiot and the President of Bolivia Evo Morales, for example, and by green economists such as Molly Scott Cato. More on this soon.
I’ll also be returning to my regular classics blogging, with a post on George Eliot up next.
In the meantime, it’s New York, New York.