Measuring and reporting liabilities at fair value is part of the FASB's overall project on fair value measurement and reporting. The FASB has taken the position that in measuring and reporting the fair value of a liability, such as a debt financial instrument, the fair value measure should reflect the credit standing of the issuer. Furthermore, changes in fair value, including the effect of changes in the issuer's credit standing, should be reported as gains and losses on the issuer's income statement. Whether liabilities should be reported at fair value and whether the fair value measure should incorporate credit standing and changes in credit standing are controversial issues. The primary controversy centers on the counterintuitive results of an entity's recording of a loss if its credit standing improves or a gain if its credit standing deteriorates. In this paper, we advocate an alternative position. We propose that liabilities be measured and reported using risk‐free rates. This proposed approach recognizes the default risk portion of a debt's fair value as a distribution to shareholders when the liability is incurred. Our proposal supports the FASB's position that an entity's cost of borrowing, that is, interest expense on the entity's income statement, should reflect its credit standing and changes in its credit standing. We believe that our approach to accounting for liabilities is a viable alternative that warrants consideration. It avoids counterintuitive results, is consistent with the theories underlying the pricing of debt securities, and is more consistent with a going‐concern assumption that an entity is expected to fulfill its debt obligations.
Including Credit Standing in Measuring the Fair Value of Liabilities—Let's Pass This One to the Shareholders
- Views Icon Views
- Share Icon Share
- Search Site
Lanny G. Chasteen, Charles R. Ransom; Including Credit Standing in Measuring the Fair Value of Liabilities—Let's Pass This One to the Shareholders. Accounting Horizons 1 June 2007; 21 (2): 119–135. doi: https://doi.org/10.2308/acch.2007.21.2.119
Download citation file: