Reporting: weighted average price source

Charles Day cedayiv at
Tue Jul 8 13:29:18 EDT 2008

On Tue, Jul 8, 2008 at 8:50 AM, Charles Day <cedayiv at> wrote:

> On Tue, Jul 8, 2008 at 5:59 AM, David G. Hamblen <dhamblen at>
> wrote:
>> Charles Day wrote:
>>> On Mon, Jul 7, 2008 at 8:53 AM, Derek Atkins <warlord at <mailto:
>>> warlord at>> wrote:
>>>    "David G. Hamblen" <dhamblen at
>>>    <mailto:dhamblen at>> writes:
>>>    > A few years back (v1.8x), I had problems with these absolute
>>>    values, and I
>>>    > patched report-utilities.scm,and commodity-utilites.scm so that
>>>    the balance
>>>    > sheet would balance.  In addition to completely removing all the
>>>    numeric:abs,
>>>    > I also had to do something about the division by zero in
>>>    commodity-utilities
>>>    > when there was a zero share balance.  I'm using the "Nearest in
>>>    Time"  and the
>>>    > problem went away in the 2.x updates.  If anyone's interested, I
>>>    can dig up
>>>    > my old postings.
>>>    >
>>>    > Anyway, I vote for getting rid of absolute values in bookkeeping.
>>>    It's not a question of book keeping.  It's a question of computing
>>>    the share price.  GnuCash stores buys as a positive and sells as
>>>    a negative.  As Christian pointed out before, if you buy x shares
>>>    for $y and then later SELL x shares for $y then a non-abs weighted
>>>    average gives you a price of 0/share!  Obviously this is wrong.
>>>    The weighted average should be $(y/x) per share.   But without
>>>    the ABS you get:
>>>      y * x + (-y)*x        xy -xy       0
>>>      --------------  ==    ------  ==  --- = 0
>>>         x + x                2x         2x
>>>    When you use abs() here you get the right answer.
>>>  The fundamental issue here is that I don't think that the average price
>>  should include shares I no longer own.
>> My tests (all using the Balance Sheet) indicate that share prices (the
>> y's) are all positive and are calculated from each transaction (Total
>> Buy/Total Shares). The Total Buy (the x*y product) and the Total shares (the
>> x's) are both positive or both negative.  What seemed to be happening back
>> in 1.8x, and is still happening in 2.4) was that when you have zero shares,
>> the answer for the weighted average is irrevelant, but I have a situation
>> where I sold all my shares (as in your example), but subsequently purchased
>> a few more shares of the same stock.  The weighted average (without all the
>> abs()'s) looks like this: (I can't wait to see what Thunderbird does with my
>> ascii equations :-) )
>>  y * x + y * (-x) + z * w               z * w
>>  -----------------------------------    ==    ---------     ==  w
>>          x + (-x) + z                          z
>> With the abs(),  I get a nonsensical average price for my holdings in this
>> asset.  In my specific test case, with the initial purchase/sell of 100
>> shares at $5 (as in your example), and a subsequent purchase of 10 shares at
>> $20, I get a weighted average price of $5.714, and an asset worth $57.14.
>>  Using the "Nearest in Time" or the "Most Recent"  price source, I get an
>> average share price of $20, and an asset value of $200.
>> Without the abs(), you get 0/0 for the weighted average in your example,
>> so that needs to be trapped.
> So far as I can tell, this formula is the same as the new price source
> named "Average Cost" that I added yesterday (r17266).
>> The good news is that in 2.4, the Balance Sheet balances in all cases (not
>> true in 1.8x).
> Unless you have unrealized gains or losses on liabilities. I'm working on
> that...

...done. As of r17287, the balance sheet report now supports calculation of
unrealized gains and losses on liabilities.

> -Charles
>     for sales.
>>>    So it's not a question of absolute values in bookkeeping.  It's
>>>    a question of absolute values in computing share prices.  Not
>>>    the same thing.
>>> I agree with Derek. That is, the "weighted average" price source is not
>>> intended to compute the cost of your holdings, but rather to compute the
>>> volume-weighted average price of all buys AND sells. So it needs to keep
>>> using the absolute value. However, it does need to be changed: it should
>>> ignore exchanges with a zero "amount" in the split.
>>> So I think we need to add a new price source of "Cost" which computes
>>> without absolute value and does include zero "amount" splits. That's where
>>> taking a look at David's code might come in handy (though implementing this
>>> seems like a pretty simple job: copy existing weighted average function, get
>>> rid of absolute value, add report option).
>>> Whether to even keep the "weighted average" price source is a question
>>> worth asking; I don't think it is a useful way to revalue current holdings.
>>> Historical volumes don't seem relevant. Even if the volume weighting was
>>> removed, the formula also weights quotes that are clustered within a small
>>> period of time more heavily than quotes that are spread apart. In other
>>> words, if I have 30 quotes from this month and one quote from last year, the
>>> recent quotes practically drown out the quote from last year. If we want to
>>> aim for a historical price average then using something like linear
>>> regression seems like a better way to go. Could even add some time factors,
>>> like getting the midpoint of the portion of the line covering the last 30,
>>> 60, 90 days, whatever. But now I am brainstorming new price sources.
>>> I do think a volume-weighted average price can be useful; it's just more
>>> appropriate for measuring your personal trading performance. Maybe there
>>> should be a performance report designed around that.
>>> -Charles
>>>    derek
>>>    --
>>>          Derek Atkins, SB '93 MIT EE, SM '95 MIT Media Laboratory
>>>          Member, MIT Student Information Processing Board  (SIPB)
>>>          URL:    PP-ASEL-IA     N1NWH
>>>          warlord at MIT.EDU <mailto:warlord at MIT.EDU>
>>>     PGP key available
>>>    Of course, then you need to make sure you re-apply the negative

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