Last Wednesday, October 29, 2008, the SEC hosted the first of its two roundtable discussions on mark-to-market accounting. Pursuant to the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, the SEC has been congressionally mandated to conduct a study on mark-to-market accounting by financial institutions in close consultation with the Department of Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board. The study is scheduled to be completed by January 2, 2009.

The roundtable participants represented a cross section of representatives from financial institutions, the investment community and other market participants, as well as special observers from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, Federal Reserve Board, International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). Although the debate was lively, there appeared to be more agreement between critics and proponents than expected.

Alston & Bird has prepared an Advisory describing this first roundtable. The SEC will host its next roundtable on mark-to-market accounting by financial institutions on November 21, 2008. The SEC is presently seeking public comment on mark-to-market accounting. All comments received will be publicly posted on the SEC’s web site.

Separately, the FASB and the IASB announced today that they will be holding the first of three public roundtables in London on November 14. The purpose of the FASB/IASB roundtables is to "identify financial reporting issues highlighted by the global financial crisis." Subsequent roundtables will be held in Norwalk, Connecticut (where FASB is headquartered) and Tokyo.