Banks are pushing for a change to banking rules that would allow them to ignore mark to market accounting for assets in markets that they deem “inactive.” In other words, if a bank is loaded with worthless assets but decides that the market for those assets is frozen, they can value those assets higher than the market would. Or to simplify it even more, they can create value out of toxic assets. And it looks like now the Financial Accounting Standards Board, which so far has been against this rule change, is caving in.
One buzzphrase going around about the financial crisis is “mark to market.” Some think banks are being overly punished by being forced to “mark to market” the investments they own, or price them according to current market value. As you can probably figure out, those assets have plummeted. Marketplace’s Paddy Hirsch explains with his trusty whiteboard and stick figures what “mark to market” means, and what it means for the economy.