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This paper examines the magnitude of the reporting bias inherent in the historical cost accounting of a firm's physical capital. Reported depreciation data pertaining to U.S. Steel Corporation (currently USX) between 1939 and 1987 are compared with standardized historical cost figures and replacement cost estimates. The findings suggest that replacement cost depreciation would have provided more information about U.S. Steel's ability to maintain its productive capacity than historical cost depreciation did. Thus, this analysis provides an illustration of one of the primary arguments for replacement cost accounting.



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