An anatomy of the Level 3 fair-value hierarchy discount
We use an integrated approach to analyze the reasons behind the discount on the balance-sheet fair value of illiquid financial instruments held by European banks and classified into the Level 3 Fair Value hierarchy under IFRS 7. We believe that the potential sources of misalignment are 1) the lack of disclosure, 2) earnings management, and 3) the lack of liquidity. We show that the discount implicit in market values is linked to the lack of mandatory additional disclosure required by IFRS 7 and that this result support the strong enforcement activity made by national authorities. We also show that financial markets penalize banks that transfer assets from other fair-value hierarchy levels and that the penalty is due both to the instruments’ drop in liquidity and the opacity of the transfers.
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