This is an accounting puzzle that anyone who has the slightest idea of the principles that govern profits and benefits can solve it in a heartbeat.
I explain it to you because it is based on a fact that actually happened, where all the parties had different opinions and I had to act as an arbitrator. So I thought it was an excellent material for a puzzle.
It is said that in a very pious New Hampshire town they hired an agent to be the only one authorized to sell liquor for a year. They gave him $ 12 in advance in cash, and liquors worth $ 59.50 at cost. At the end of the year, the agent declared extra purchases of liquor worth $ 283.50 and sold liquor worth $ 285.80, also receiving a commission of 5% instead of a salary.
The illustration shows the agent with the village committee counting the stock, with each product marked with the sale price.
How much profit did the people get from the sale of the liquor? This includes determining the agent's commission.
The agent started with $ 12 in cash and $ 59.50 in liquor. Buying $ 283.50 in liquor increased its stock to $ 343 (cost price). On this price he applied 10% giving him a sale price of $ 377.30. It sold $ 285.80, and was left with $ 91.50 unsold, as you can see in the illustration. These $ 91.50 would have a cost price of $ 83.18.
If we subtract this sum of $ 343 (the cost value of the entire stock), we will have $ 259.82 corresponding to the cost of the liquor it sold.
If we subtract this figure from the value of sales ($ 285.80) we will have to the benefit that the people obtained from liquor sales was $ 25.98.
$ 25.98 profit plus $ 12 advanced at the beginning plus $ 59.50 of liquor = $ 98.48.
If we subtract the agent commission from $ 14.29, we have $ 83.19 left, which is the cost value of the remaining liquor.
That is, the agent was only wrong for two cents.