Suspend Mark-To-Market Now!
If regulators on their own–or Congress, if regulators fail to use their discretion–can fix 70% of the financial crisis by changing the mark-to-market accounting rule, we should change the rule first before attempting to pass another reevaluated bailout package.
“Mark-to-Market” Accounting and the Origins of the Financial Crisis: Mark-to-market accounting (also known as “fair value” accounting) means that companies must value the assets on their balance sheets based on the latest market indicators of the price that those assets could be sold for immediately. Under such a rule, declining housing prices don’t just reduce the value of defaulting mortgages. They reduce the value of all mortgages and all mortgage-related securities because the housing collateral protecting them is worth less.
Moreover, when a company in financial distress begins fire sales of its assets to raise capital to meet regulatory requirements, the market-bottom prices it sells out for become the new standard for the valuation of all similar securities held by other companies under mark-to-market. This has begun a downward death spiral for financial companies large and small.