U.S. Lawmakers Propose Panel That Could Suspend Fair-Value Rule

Mar 06, 2009
In The News

March 6 (Bloomberg) — Two U.S. lawmakers want to create a regulatory panel that would be able to suspend accounting rules such as the fair-value standard that financial companies have blamed for worsening the global credit crisis.

Representatives Ed Perlmutter and Frank Lucas introduced legislation yesterday to establish the Federal Accounting Oversight Board, which would “approve and oversee accounting principles.” It would include the Treasury secretary and the chairmen of the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The panel, taking authority the SEC now has, would “give discretion to the regulators to consider the overall condition of the financial market,” Leslie Oliver, a spokeswoman for Colorado Democrat Perlmutter, said in an interview today. The Financial Accounting Standards Board, the SEC-supervised group that sets U.S. accounting rules, takes a “narrower approach,” she said. Lucas is an Oklahoma Republican.

Citigroup Inc. and other financial companies say the fair- value rule, which requires companies to write down assets to reflect market value, doesn’t work in illiquid markets. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said fair-value enhances the transparency of company balance sheets.

The SEC in a December report rejected calls to suspend fair- value, also known as mark-to-market. The agency said the rule should be improved and “did not appear to play a meaningful role” in bank failures last year.

SEC spokesman John Nester declined to comment.

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