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Fair value accounting: villain or innocent victim?: exploring the links between fair value accounting, bank regulatory capital, and the recent financial crisis

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  • Sanders Shaffer

Abstract

There is a popular belief that the confluence of bank capital rules and fair value accounting helped trigger the recent financial crisis. The claim is that questionable valuations of long term investments based on prices obtained from illiquid markets created a pro-cyclical effect whereby mark to market adjustments reduced regulatory capital forcing banks to sell off investments which further depressed prices. This ultimately led to bank instability and the credit effects that reached a peak late in 2008. This paper analyzes a sample of large banks to attempt to measure the strength of the link between fair value accounting, regulatory capital rules, pro-cyclicality and financial contagion. The focus is on large banks because they value a significant portion of their balance sheets using fair value. They also hold investment portfolios that contain illiquid assets in large enough volumes to possibly affect the market in a pro-cyclical fashion. The analysis is based on a review of recent historical financial data. The analysis does not reveal a clear link for most banks in the sample, but rather suggests that there may have been other more significant factors putting stress on bank regulatory capital.

Suggested Citation

  • Sanders Shaffer, 2010. "Fair value accounting: villain or innocent victim?: exploring the links between fair value accounting, bank regulatory capital, and the recent financial crisis," Risk and Policy Analysis Unit Working Paper QAU10-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbqu:qau10-1
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    Cited by:

    1. Blakespoor, Elizabeth & Linsmeier, Thomas J. & Petroni, Kathy & Shakespeare, Catherine, 2012. "Fair Value Accounting for Financial Instruments: Does It Improve the Association between Bank Leverage and Credit Risk?," Research Papers 2107, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    2. Ehalaiye, Dimu & Tippett, Mark & van Zijl, Tony, 2017. "The predictive value of bank fair values," Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 111-127.
    3. Beltratti, Andrea & Spear, Nasser & Szabo, Mark Daniel, 2013. "The Value Relevance and Timeliness of Write-downs During the Financial Crisis of 2007–2009," The International Journal of Accounting, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 467-494.
    4. repec:eee:crpeac:v:30:y:2015:i:c:p:46-62 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Global financial crisis ; Bank capital ; Banks and banking - Accounting;

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