Did Fair-Value Accounting Contribute to the Financial Crisis?
- (pp. 93-118)
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.
Citation2010. "Did Fair-Value Accounting Contribute to the Financial Crisis?" Journal of Economic Perspectives, 24(1): 93-118. DOI: 10.1257/jep.24.1.93
- G01 Financial Crises
- G21 Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
- G28 Financial Institutions and Services: Government Policy and Regulation
- M41 Accounting
- M48 Accounting and Auditing: Government Policy and Regulation