Fair-value accounting lives

Sec Cooler heads prevail after all.

After hinting they'd be moving in this direction, regulators with the SEC have made it official by saying fair-value accounting should not be suspended.

The opinion, which flies in the face of critics who blamed fair value for helping to cause the financial crisis, instead calls for a series of improvements to the accounting rules.

The opinions are laid out in a report to Congress that was mandated as part of the $700 billion Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.

Among its recommendations, the SEC's report calls for "additional guidance and other tools for determining fair value when relevant market information is not available" and "enhancement of existing disclosure and presentation requirements related to the effect of fair value in the financial statements."

Sounds like it might be in line with recent FASB proposals that would require companies to include in their financial reports a comparison of their assets under three measurements —- the reported carrying amount, fair value and incurred loss amount.

In any event, regulators have recognized that fair-value accounting didn't cause the crisis.

Now, maybe we can devote our full attention to figuring out what did.


Bill Sheridan