The International Accounting Standards Board has issued a discussion paper, "Reducing Complexity in Reporting Financial Instruments," intended to be the first step in developing principles-based standards that are less complicated than existing standards for reporting on derivatives and other investments.

As part of the roadmap for convergence of International Financial Reporting Standards with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles, the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board will also consider the discussion paper for publication and comment. The IASB said it and FASB had been urged to develop less complex standards of reporting for financial instruments by many of their constituents.

The discussion paper analyzes the main causes of complexity in reporting financial instruments and proposes possible approaches for addressing them, including amending or replacing the existing requirements for measurement and hedge accounting. The discussion paper sets out the arguments for and against a possible long-term approach that would use one measurement method for all types of financial instruments.

"Fair value seems to be the only measure that is appropriate for all types of financial instruments," said the paper. "However, there are issues and concerns that have to be addressed before the boards can require general fair value measurement. It might take a long time to resolve all these issues and concerns."

The deadline for sending comments on the discussion paper to the IASB is Sept. 19, 2008.

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