This is a huge deal. FASB is considering requiring all financial assets be valued at fair values on balance sheets. Hat tip Andrew. Bloomberg reports (notice my highlighting in bold):
The scope of the FASB’s initiative, which has received almost no attention in the press, is massive. All financial assets would have to be recorded at fair value on the balance sheet each quarter, under the board’s tentative plan.
This would mean an end to asset classifications such as held for investment, held to maturity and held for sale, along with their differing balance-sheet treatments. Most loans, for example, probably would be presented on the balance sheet at cost, with a line item below showing accumulated change in fair value, and then a net fair-value figure below that. For lenders, rule changes could mean faster recognition of loan losses, resulting in lower earnings and book values.
The board said financial instruments on the liabilities side of the balance sheet also would have to be recorded at fair-market values, though there could be exceptions for a company’s own debt or a bank’s customer deposits.
The FASB’s approach is tougher on banks than the path taken by the London-based International Accounting Standards Board, which last week issued a proposal that would let companies continue carrying many financial assets at historical cost, including loans and debt securities. The two boards are scheduled to meet tomorrow in London to discuss their contrasting plans.
While balance sheets might be simplified, income statements would acquire new complexities. Some gains and losses would count in net income. These would include changes in the values of all equity securities and almost all derivatives. Interest payments, dividends and credit losses would go in net, too, as would realized gains and losses. So would fluctuations in all debt instruments with derivatives embedded in their structures.
Other items, including fair-value fluctuations on certain loans and debt securities, would get steered to a section called comprehensive income, which would appear for the first time on the face of the income statement, below net income. Comprehensive income now appears on a company’s equity statement.
Expect the financial services industry to fight this tooth and nail.