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FASB, IASB Outline Strategy for Credit Crisis Response

Tammy Whitehouse | October 24, 2008

Accounting rulemakers are providing a little more detail about how they plan to respond to the global financial meltdown.

The Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board plan to host roundtables in Europe, Asia, and North America to air views on what kinds of reporting issues are of greatest significance as markets remain in turmoil. The boards hope to hear not only from preparers, auditors, and investors, but also governmental bodies and regulators.

With the roundtables, the boards also are forming an advisory group to study the issues and deliberate and prioritize any potential courses of action. The advisory group will represent a broad cross-section of players in the financial markets, charged with figuring out how to rescue investor confidence.

The boards have said they are committed to developing common reporting solutions around how to account for financial instruments, the complexity and opacity of which have contributed to the current market meltdown. They plan to rework the makeup of IASB’s existing Financial Instruments Working Group as part of that effort. “We plan to make the working group a joint FASB/IASB group and will revisit membership to include some users (of financial statements),” said IASB spokesman Mark Byatt. “We will also ensure that it complements the advisory group announced by IASB and FASB by enhancing the technical focus of the membership. This will benefit the staffs and the boards.”

IASB has a project on consolidation and a project on derecogntion of assets and liabilties—or determining when an item should be removed from one entity’s balance sheet and transferred to another’s—and the FASB is deep into a similar project, trying to achieve a common approach for U.S. and international accounting rules. The IASB also is still working on its project to establish a definition and measurement approach for fair value, though its deliberations so far suggest it’s not in agreement with the U.S. adherence to exit pricing as the basis for measuring fair value. Transfers of financial assets and liabilities and the general use and measurement of fair value have come under tight scrutiny because of their role in the current economic crisis.