Accounting provisions of US financial institutions 'bailout bill'

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29 Sep 2008

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 that is being considered by the United States Congress (the so-called financial institutions bailout bill) has as its objective: "To provide authority for the Federal Government to purchase and insure certain types of troubled assets for the purposes of providing stability to and preventing disruption in the economy and financial system and protecting taxpayers, and for other purposes".

Two sections of the Draft Bill (PDF 193k) relate to fair value measurement accounting issues:

Sec. 132. Authority to suspend mark-to-market accounting.

"The Securities and Exchange Commission shall have the authority under the securities laws 12 (as such term is defined in section 3(a)(47) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78c(a)(47)) to suspend, by rule, regulation, or order, the application of Statement Number 157 of the Financial Accounting Standards Board for any issuer (as such term is defined in section 3(a)(8) of such Act) or with respect to any class or category of transaction if the Commission determines that is necessary or appropriate in the public interest and is consistent with the protection of investors."

Sec. 133. Study on mark-to-market accounting.

"The Securities and Exchange Commission, in consultation with the Board [of Governors of the Federal Reserve System] and the Secretary [of the Treasury], shall conduct a study on mark-to-market accounting standards as provided in Statement Number 157 of the Financial Accounting Standards Board, as such standards are applicable to financial institutions, including depository institutions. Such a study shall consider at a minimum —

  • (1) the effects of such accounting standards on a financial institution's balance sheet;
  • (2) the impacts of such accounting on bank failures in 2008;
  • (3) the impact of such standards on the quality of financial information available to investors;
  • (4) the process used by the Financial Accounting Standards Board in developing accounting standards;
  • (5) the advisability and feasibility of modifications to such standards; and
  • (6) alternative accounting standards to those provided in such Statement Number 157."
The SEC must submit the report to Congress within 90 days after enactment of the bill.


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