Graduation Year

Spring 2013

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Douglas McEachern

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Rights Information

© 2013 John C. Suttle Jr.


The financial crisis of 2007-2008 sparked a debate over the usefulness of fair value accounting. Many banks and other financial institutions claim that the strict rules of fair value accounting exacerbated the financial crisis. To fix the problem of fair value accounting, FASB issued FAS 157-4, FAS 115-2 and FAS 124-2. These Staff Positions relax the rules for fair value accounting by providing entities more flexibility in fair value estimates and OTTI reporting. This study explores the merits of these changes to fair value accounting and analyzes whether they will improve banks’ financial reporting. First, I examine the role of fair value accounting in the recent financial crisis. Next, I evaluate whether these Staff Positions result in more useful information to investors and other decision makers. I find evidence that suggests that fair value accounting had a limited role in the financial crisis and did not contribute to banks’ financial burdens. These findings bring into question the purpose and necessity of FAS 157-4, FAS 115-2 and FAS 124-2. Furthermore, my analysis shows that these Staff Positions do not enhance the usefulness of information to decision makers. In fact, they appear to weaken the usefulness of financial information.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.