Chicago-based Performance Trust Investment Advisors, LLC, a bank advisory firm, has created a virtual forum at a new web site-called marktomarketdebate.com-to educate the public on how "fair value" standards, also known as mark-to-market, and related accounting and bank regulatory rules impact bank lending.
"Many people may not realize that the mark-to-market rules are having a disastrous effect in today's distressed market because they are discouraging banks from taking on significant amounts of new lending, which is vital to economic recovery," said Rich Berg, Chief Executive Officer of Performance Trust Investment Advisors. "We encourage all Americans to get educated, get involved and contact their Congressman or Congresswoman to make sure the regulatory bodies quickly take action to address these problems and get the economy moving again," he said.
Under mark-to-market accounting rules, banks and insurance companies are required to report fixed income securities representing bundles of mortgages and consumer loans at today's fire sale prices - even when these investments are currently performing by delivering cash flows to the investor. Related to this issue is the bank accounting rule called "Other Than Temporarily Impaired" (or OTTI). This rule requires that an entire pool of loans be considered "impaired" when only a small portion of the loans in the pool may not be performing as expected. In addition, there are bank regulations that are compounding these accounting-related problems.
"These rules require banks to take write-downs on their investments, destroying capital and the ability to lend," noted Rich Berg. "Yet most of these fixed income securities being written down are not toxic subprime mortgages. Many are regular, performing loans made to Americans to purchase homes and autos and to finance college educations," he said.
For more information and to hear the many voices on this subject, go to www.marktomarketdebate.com.