SYNOPSIS:

In this paper, we discuss the accounting for repurchase transactions, drawing on how repurchase agreements are characterized under U.S. bankruptcy law, and in light of the recent developments in the U.S. repo market. We conclude that the current accounting rules, which require the recording of most such transactions as collateralized loans, can give rise to opaqueness in a firm's financial statements because they incorrectly characterize the economic substance of repurchase agreements. Accounting for repurchase transactions as sales and the concurrent recognition of a forward, as “Repo 105” transactions were accounted for by Lehman Brothers, has furthermore overlooked merits. In particular, such a method provides a more comprehensive and transparent picture of the economic substance of such transactions.

JEL Classifications: M41; G21; G38.

Data Availability: Data are available from the public sources identified in the paper.

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