SEC and FASB statement of today:
The current environment has made questions surrounding the determination of fair value particularly challenging for preparers, auditors, and users of financial information. [Doh!] The SEC's Office of the Chief Accountant and the staff of the FASB have been engaged in extensive consultations with participants in the capital markets, including investors, preparers, and auditors, on the application of fair value measurements in the current market environment.
...When an active market for a security does not exist, the use of management estimates that incorporate current market participant expectations of future cash flows, and include appropriate risk premiums, is acceptable...
...The results of disorderly transactions are not determinative when measuring fair value. The concept of a fair value measurement assumes an orderly transaction between market participants. An orderly transaction is one that involves market participants that are willing to transact and allows for adequate exposure to the market. Distressed or forced liquidation sales are not orderly transactions, and thus the fact that a transaction is distressed or forced should be considered when weighing the available evidence
...Transactions in inactive markets may be inputs when measuring fair value, but would likely not be determinative. If they are orderly, transactions should be considered in management's estimate of fair value. However, if prices in an inactive market do not reflect current prices for the same or similar assets, adjustments may be necessary to arrive at fair value.
...In general, the greater the decline in value, the greater the period of time until anticipated recovery, and the longer the period of time that a decline has existed, the greater the level of evidence necessary to reach a conclusion that an other-than-temporary decline has not occurred.
Determining whether impairment is other-than-temporary is a matter that often requires the exercise of reasonable judgment based upon the specific facts and circumstances of each investment. This includes an assessment of the nature of the underlying investment (for example, whether the security is debt, equity or a hybrid) which may have an impact on a holder's ability to assess the probability of recovery.
Looser, but not unreasonable.
Will there be fraud? Yup. But understand that you could get the same answer if you ask "Will there be rain?"
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About time. This will free up liquidity in a hurry. Or it should, anyway.
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