Did Fair-Value Accounting Contribute to the Financial Crisis?
AbstractThe recent financial crisis has led to a major debate about fair-value accounting. Many critics have argued that fair-value accounting, often also called mark-to-market accounting, has significantly contributed to the financial crisis or, at least, exacerbated its severity. In this paper, we assess these arguments and examine the role of fair-value accounting in the financial crisis using descriptive data and empirical evidence. Based on our analysis, it is unlikely that fair-value accounting added to the severity of the 2008 financial crisis in a major way. While there may have been downward spirals or asset-fire sales in certain markets, we find little evidence that these effects are the result of fair-value accounting. We also find little support for claims that fair-value accounting leads to excessive write-downs of banks' assets. If anything, empirical evidence to date points in the opposite direction, that is, toward the overvaluation of bank assets during the crisis.
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Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.
Volume (Year): 24 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (Winter)
Other versions of this item:
- Christian Laux & Christian Leuz, 2009. "Did Fair-Value Accounting Contribute to the Financial Crisis?," NBER Working Papers 15515, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Laux, Christian & Leuz, Christian, 2009. "Did fair-value accounting contribute to the financial crisis?," CFS Working Paper Series 2009/22, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
- G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
- G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
- G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
- M41 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting - - Accounting - - - Accounting
- M48 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting - - Accounting - - - Government Policy and Regulation
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