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Accounting Standard-Setters Under More Pressure

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September 11, 2009

The Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board are once again coming under pressure not to tighten up the loose standards for banks that helped lead to the financial crisis.

The American Bankers Association has written to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke asking them to make sure the standard-setters don’t follow through with plans to expand fair value accounting to loans and debt securities, saying that would go against the G-20 leaders’ wishes (see Bankers Want G-20 to Rein in FASB, IASB).

Floyd Norris of The New York Times has written an insightful article with the provocative title, “Accountants Misled Us into Crisis,” about how FASB and the IASB, and by extension accountants themselves, are again being forced to back down on toughening the accounting rules for how the banks can value their assets. Politicians in the U.S. and Europe are helping exert that pressure on the standard-setters, and the accountants are going to be blamed once again if assets like dubious loans turn out to be as worthless as ever.

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