The EU Wants to Relax Mark-to-Market Rules

Now that the United States has relaxed mark-to-market rules, now Europe does too?

European Union ministers said it is “critical” that convergence on accounting standards is reached on the continent to ensure that the region’s banks are not placed at a disadvantage against U.S. competitors.

The International Accounting Standards Board, which writes the rules used in Europe, must cooperate with the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board, the ministers said in a statement today following a meeting of European finance ministers and central bankers in Prague. A goal is to avoid “competitive distortions,” they said.

European lenders may face a disadvantage without changes to mark-to-market rules similar to those decided by the U.S. on April 2. The U.S. move stands to help banks such as Citigroup Inc. report higher profits by easing requirements to recognize fluctuations in the value of investments. Critics of the fair- value rule say it hurts banks by forcing them to book paper losses in the midst of the crisis.

Looks like a race to the bottom on transparency and disclosure is on.

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