The Financial Accounting Standards Board has issued a discussion paper to solicit input on how to improve, simplify, and converge the financial reporting requirements for hedging activities, as it foresees the possibility of increasing divergence from international standards.

In May 2010, the FASB proposed its revisions to improve and simplify standards for financial reporting of financial instruments, including hedge accounting guidance, in its proposed Accounting Standards Update, Accounting for Financial Instruments and Revisions to the Accounting for Derivative Instruments and Hedging Activities—Financial Instruments (Topic 825) and Derivatives and Hedging (Topic 815).

In December 2010, as part of its project to improve the accounting for financial instruments, the International Accounting Standards Board issued an exposure draft on hedge accounting, seeking to align hedge accounting more closely with risk management while addressing inconsistencies and weaknesses in the existing hedge accounting model (see IASB Proposes to Trim Hedge Accounting).

Differences exist between IFRS and U.S. GAAP relating to hedge accounting. The revisions proposed by the IASB in its exposure draft would result in more differences compared with FASB’s current and proposed hedge accounting guidance, FASB noted. The FASB discussion paper asks stakeholders whether the IASB’s proposals are a better starting point for any changes to U.S. GAAP as it relates to derivatives and hedging activities.

“The FASB is issuing this discussion paper to determine whether our constituents think the IASB’s proposed changes would improve the accounting for hedging activities,” said FASB chairman Leslie F. Seidman in a statement. “The information received during the comment period will be helpful to both the FASB and the IASB as we deliberate issues pertaining to hedge accounting.”

In addition to soliciting written comments on FASB’s discussion paper, FASB plans to participate in the IASB’s discussion of comments received on its exposure draft, as well as input received on FASB’s proposed update, in the second quarter of 2011.

The discussion paper is available at www.fasb.org. Written comments on the documents should be submitted by April 25, 2011.

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