Thursday, April 2, 2009

Financial Accounting Standards Board

The Financial Accounting Standards Board loosened the mark-to-market accounting requirements today. Floyd Norris, on The News Hour tonight, said the markets (which rose about 3.5% today) had known for a couple of days this was in the works so they'd already factored it in.

The markets have been rising steadily (and on some days, significantly) for about four weeks. Here's Jack Healy in today's NYT:
"Although the rule change was widely expected, the decision helped sustain a rally that has raised the major averages more than 20 percent from their low points of March 9. Over the last month, investors have pinned their hopes on faint signs of improvement in retail spending, home sales, consumer spending and orders for durable goods."
The News Hour report said that the FASB consists of five appointees. I've just done some Wikipedia research and learned the following:
  • The FASB is not a governmental entity - it's a private non-profit.
  • It was founded in 1973 and is designated by the SEC as "as the organization responsible for setting accounting standards for public companies in the U.S" (including GAAP).
  • The current chairman is Robert Herz.
173. Why haven't editorialists (I'm thinking of people like Krugman and Samuelson) written more about whether they approve or disapprove of the job that's been done by the FASB in the years leading up to the crisis? The ratings agencies have been criticized lots, but I have not heard all that much about the FASB in the "big picture" explanations of the recession.

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