So it's the bottom of the ninth with six outs (as in, out of business -- Bear, Lehman , Merrill , AIG , WaMu , Wachovia ) and the SEC has finally moved to clarify the mandate that has needlessly rendered great firms worthless and brought the global financial markets to their knees.
WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG?!!
To sit on the sidelines for 10 months and watch "Tropical Storm 157" tear a path of destruction through one balance sheet after another of our country's financial institutions is FEMA-like in its ineptitude.
So now, instead of admitting that their experiment in fairly valuing assets has accidentally blown the roof off the laboratory, we're given a clarification: "Ya know those new mark-to-market accounting mandates we began enforcing last fall..? Well, it seems there have been some unintended consequences and perhaps things got a little out of control..."
- S&P's Stovall: Bottom Seems Near
But we'd like to remind you that accounting is not always as precise as we would all like it to be and that when things get a little crazy and difficult to value, you'll need to use a little JUDGMENT.
Of course, accountants, from their newly elevated status as executioners (see my Sept. 15 blog post, "CSI Wall St.: Financial Homicide"), oppose any setback to their new baby, saying it would have a destabilizing effect on the market and be bad for investors.
Dare I say the markets are far from stable and good for investors right now, with the mark-to-market status quo in place?
Don't get me wrong, I acknowledge and agree with the intent of the FAS 157 Fair Value rules — but strongly oppose its unintended and disastrous consequences.
If these assets were truly worthless and not just temporarily hard to price during this calamitous time, then the vultures would not be circling.
But the vulture funds are circling. And they are also raising billions of dollars — with ease I might add — while they wait for the right moment to pounce and make an absolute killing.
The bottom line here is this entire ordeal didn't have to happen, and the well-intentioned accounting rules that were born out the S&L crisis and the collapse of Enron only made a bad situation worse.