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Washington
Kanjorski mark-to-market hearing this week
WASHINGTON (3/9/09)—Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) plans a subcommittee hearing this week on mark-to-market accounting rules that have required financial institutions to report impairments of illiquid assets. Kanjorski, chairman of the House Financial Services subcommittee on capital markets, insurance, and government-sponsored enterprises, said his subpanel will examine the accounting rules that some contend have exacerbated the current troubles in the financial industry and in the broader economy. The mark-to-market standard requires companies to value assets held at current market values. Kanjorski, in a release, said that for assets that are frozen and have a diminished current market value but may recover value in the future, the standard has proven problematic. Companies are then forced to write-down billions in assets, which can lead to further write-downs elsewhere. “Illiquid markets have resulted in great difficulty in valuing sizable assets. Some have therefore complained about fair value accounting and sought to eliminate it. While companies need stability, investors still need accurate information. We therefore cannot allow for fantasy accounting that wishes away bad assets by merely concealing them,” Kanjorski said. His subcommittee will look at balancing companies’ needs for stability with investors’ needs for accurate information. The hearing is March 12. Witnesses had not been announced as of Friday afternoon. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) will submit a statement for the record. Also, CUNA recently advanced a new idea to address problems created by accounting rules on fair value, mark-to-market and the reporting of assets that are "Other Than Temporarily Impaired." In a letter to President Barack Obama, CUNA urged the formation of a Presidential Task Force.


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