Book clsoing [was: Re: Addition of HBCI support, Maturity of 1.7-branch, next stable release time frame?

Bill Gribble
16 Apr 2002 10:15:27 -0500

On Tue, 2002-04-16 at 09:35, Derek Atkins wrote:
> The real problem is that we do not track individual widgets in the
> "stock" accounts.  The reason this is _THE_ problem is that everything
> else would fall out if it were solved.  Assuming we solve this
> problem:

That's not the real problem.   Please have a look at how inventory is
tracked in business.  Tracking individual widgets is useful mainly in a
very small subset of inventory -- fixed asset tracking -- and generally
each widget gets its own account in that case.  

Cap gains computations don't require lot identification.  It's one way
of doing the basis computation, if you want to, but it's not required,
and it's generally not much help.  It also requires a much more detailed
paper trail, including letters to the broker identifying which lots are
to be sold (AFAIR you have to decide *before* the sale which lots you
are going to sell, for Federal tax purposes).  

The rules for how cap gains can and can't be computed are variable and
locale-specific.  Lot information should be available, and it is
currently (transactions to purchase lots of stock are kept indefinitely)
so you can do the computation via lot ID if you want.  There needs to be
more API and GUI for tagging lots for buy/sell but not a fundamental
restructuring.  IMO.

> 3) a business "inventory" solution would fall out as well (because you
> do need to track individual widgets).

No, you don't.  Hardly any kind of inventory tracks individual widgets. 
Most don't even keep count of the widgets, just the total cash value of
the widgets.  The overhead of data storage and doing even simple value
computations would get ridiculous any other way.... decent size stores
often have a catalog approaching 1,000,000 different *kinds* of items,
with 30,000 -- 50,000 in stock at a time, and tens of millions of items
going through stock every year.  A single Wal-Mart store can do $150
million per year. 

Not that gnucash is going to be running Wal-Mart operations any time
soon, but if you're talking about business solutions you have to at
least think about that kind of scale. 

> Unfortuately I'm not sure how to really solve this problem, unless you
> add information to the "sell a widget" transactions which point back
> to the lot(s) that were (partially) sold.

That's the most useful thing I can think of.  It would allow a capital
gains report to DTRT *if* lot identification was needed/useful (and it
hardly ever is).