FASB proposes fair value guidance in inactive markets

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03 Oct 2008

The US Financial Accounting Standards Board has invited comment on a proposed FASB Staff Position (FSP) that addresses concerns regarding the determination of fair value in markets that are not active.

The objective of the guidance in proposed FSP FAS 157-d is to clarify how SFAS 157 applies to determining the fair value of assets and liabilities in inactive markets and to provide an example that illustrates several key principles, including the following:

FAS 157 principles that will be illustrated in the guidance:

  • In some cases an entity might determine that observable inputs to a market approach valuation technique require significant adjustment and thus are ultimately considered unobservable or Level 3 inputs. The entity might then conclude that an income approach valuation technique that uses management's internal assumptions about market participants' expectations of cash flows is equally or more representative of fair value. However, regardless of the valuation technique used, entities must include appropriate adjustments that market participants would make for risks, such as nonperformance and liquidity.
  • A fair value measurement represents the price at which a transaction would occur between market participants at the measurement date. As discussed in paragraph 30 of Statement 157, in situations in which there is little, if any, market activity for an asset or liability at the measurement date, the fair value measurement objective remains the same, that is, an exit price from the perspective of a market participant.
  • Broker quotes or pricing services may be a relevant input when measuring fair value, but not necessarily determinative if an active market does not exist for the security. In weighing a broker quote as an input to fair value, an entity should place less reliance on quotes that do not reflect the result of market transactions.
There is more information in the Handout for Observers at the FASB Meeting (PDF 46k) beginning on page 7. The proposed FSP is now posted on FASB's Website. The planned one-week comment period will end on 9 October 2008, and the FASB expects to meet on 10 October 2008 to discuss comments received and vote on final guidance. The guidance would be effective on issuance. Any resulting changes in fair value measurements would be reflected in current profit or loss rather than by restating prior period financial statements.

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