Friday, January 22, 2010

FASB, IASB Agree on Something!

The Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board finally agreed on something after a number of public differences of opinion over the last year. They have agreed to define fair value as an exit price, as a result of a recent joint meeting.

Both the FASB and the IASB have been controversial recently as they have come under pressure to revise fair value and “mark to market” standards to give financial institutions more flexibility in valuing assets that became difficult to trade during the crisis.

The two boards have decided to meet on a monthly basis, to resolve outstanding issues in areas such as fair value, revenue recognition, leases and consolidation.

The agreed-upon definition provides that when markets become less active, the two boards tentatively decided that an entity should consider observable transaction prices unless there is evidence that the transaction is not orderly. If an entity does not have enough information to determine whether the transaction is orderly, it should perform further analysis to measure the fair value.

The boards also decided (tentatively):

  • that a transaction price might not represent the fair value of an asset or liability at initial recognition if, for example, the transaction is between related parties, the transaction takes place under duress or the seller is forced to accept the price in the transaction, the unit of account represented by the transaction is different from the unit of account for the asset or liability measured at fair value, or the market in which the transaction takes place is different from the market in which the entity would sell the asset or transfer the liability.
  • to confirm that a fair value measurement is market based and reflects the assumptions that market participants would use in pricing the asset or liability. Market participants should be assumed to have a reasonable understanding about the asset or liability and the transaction based on all the available information, including information that might be obtained through due diligence efforts that are usual and customary. A price in a related-party transaction may be used as an input to a fair value measurement if the transaction was entered into at market terms.