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The Accountant Shortage Threatens Capitalism's Future

 Capitalism can’t function without a healthy system of accounting. The breakthrough from feudalism to capitalism in Renaissance and Reformation Europe was only made possible by the emergence of professional accountants.

Cosimo de Medici (1389-1464) and other Italian bankers thrived because they kept impeccable accounts (Cosimo himself did yearly audits of all his various branches). Luca Pacioli, a Franciscan friar and mathematician, wrote the first great accounting textbook in 1494.

In Golden Age Holland, in the 16th and 17th centuries, every level of Dutch society, from merchants to prostitutes, practiced double-entry bookkeeping. Public confidence in “the numbers,” both at home and abroad, allowed Holland to launch innovative devices such as the first publicly traded company, the Dutch East India Company, in 1602 and the first stock exchange.

Adrian Wooldridge Bloomberg 1 november 2022


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