Accounting & Auditing | Corporate Finance & Governance | Financial Planning

Don’t blame the crisis on fair value

Finance FEI's blog is becoming my go-to source on financial reporting issues. If it impacts the financial reporting process, chances are Edith Orenstein and the rest of the folks at FEI have it covered.

So it's hardly surprising that Edith & Co. have done a fabulous job of summarizing the recent string of announcements centering on the Financial Accounting Standards Board's stance on financial instruments and fair-value accounting.

Quick recap: At its Aug. 13 meeting, the FASB issued a series of decisions on how financial instruments should be presented in basic financial statements. Among them was a decision that stated that "(a)ll financial instruments will be presented on the balance sheet at fair value." (FEI reported that one early, too -- no surprise there.)

Here's the interesting part. The American Bankers Association is telling the FASB to slow the heck down. In particular, the ABA takes "aim at recent proposals that call for an expansion of mark-to-market accounting in financial statements."

And of course, they're going to take aim at those proposals. If we're all forced to value our assets at current market values, well, ouch.

But this has been my question all along: If you're not going to value them at current market values, what are you going to value them at?

Here's what really leaves me shaking my head. It's a direct quote from Donna Fisher, the ABA’s senior vice president of tax, accounting and financial management:

“Given the role that mark-to-market has played in exacerbating the current economic crisis, it is hard to understand the rational (sic) for expanding it at this time."

There's just one problem there: Fair-value accounting had nothing to do -- I repeat: nothing to do -- with the current economic crisis.

So, let's start turning our attention to the tasks at hand, shall we?

What's your take on fair-value accounting?

While you're thinking, check out the schedule of upcoming MACPA professional issues updates. Fair value will be among the many topics discussed. These popular programs are free for MACPA members and are worth four hours of CPE. If you want to dive deeper, check out "Fair Value Accounting: A Critical New Skill for All CPAs," an eight-hour course set for Sept. 23 in Bowie, Md.


Bill Sheridan