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 current 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, towards overvaluation of bank assets.
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Date of creation: Nov 2009
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Other versions of this item:
- Christian Laux & Christian Leuz, 2010. "Did Fair-Value Accounting Contribute to the Financial Crisis?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(1), pages 93-118, Winter.
- 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).
- F3 - International Economics - - International Finance
- G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets
- G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
- G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage
- G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation
- K22 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Business and Securities Law
- M41 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting - - Accounting - - - Accounting
- M48 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting - - Accounting - - - Government Policy and Regulation
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ACC-2009-11-21 (Accounting & Auditing)
- NEP-ALL-2009-11-21 (All new papers)
- NEP-BAN-2009-11-21 (Banking)
- NEP-BEC-2009-11-21 (Business Economics)
- NEP-CBA-2009-11-21 (Central Banking)
- NEP-REG-2009-11-21 (Regulation)
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