Research Paper: Repurchase Agreements. Encapsulated in That Topic

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¶ … repurchase agreements. Encapsulated in that topic will be prior actions on the subject of repurchase agreements, up to and including the actions and deliberations of the Financial Accounting Standards Board. The Financial Accounting Standards Board, often referred to as the FASB, has weighed in quite a bit over the least twenty to thirty years on the subject of repurchase agreements, often known as repo agreements, and how risky/speculative they tend to be and they have also weighed in on the accounting tactics and mechanisms that can and should be used when accounting for them.

The dimensions looked at include a literature review and summary of the topic which includes a summary of the proposal, why the proposal is important, the determination of effective control vis-a-vis repurchase agreements, the general direction that the current and prior proposals are leading to and other similar topics. A reaction to the proposal as well as the theoretical frameworks and hypotheses that are in play will be discussed. Finally, there will be a conclusion which will include a reflection by the author of this paper (FASB, 2013).

Literature Review

Summary of the Proposal

Before getting too much in the minutia of what exactly Financial Accounting Standards Board Proposal Topic 860 is, why it's important and what it means to the future, the general definition and clarification of what a repurchase agreement is should first be discussed. Repurchase agreements are often known by other terminology including repo, RP or sale and repurchase agreements. Regardless of what they are call, repurchase transactions relate to a certain type of buying/selling of investment products known as securities (FASB, 2013).

This proposal is yet another proposal in a long line of major or even incremental updates that have occurred since the Financial Accounting Standards Board inception in 1973 ("Exposure drafts," 1984)("FASB Issues Bulletins," 1986). This proposal covers a lot of the same material that was addressed in 1996 when the Financial Accounting Standards Board was also addressing the accounting and reporting of financial asset transfers from one company to another, whether they be temporary or permanent ("FASB ED changes," 1996)(Nurnberg & Largay, 1996)(FASB Issues ED, 1994). Proposals by the Financial Accounting Standards Board and/or other entities along these lines go as far back as at least 2002 when hedge accounting and transfers of financial instruments were also up for discussion (Ryan et al., 2002). A more recent report, as offered in 2011, noted that debt restructuring and shifting should be reviewed and repurchase agreements are certainly part of that subject ("Current developments," 2011). The recent "Great Recession" incurred a grand call to action and the idea that even standard-setters like Financial Accounting Standards Board should be held to account for the collapse of firms like Lehman Brothers (Sanderson, 2010).

What is unique about repurchase agreements is that is technically a form of lending as it relates to Financial Accounting Standards Board standards and requirements, even if the buying and selling parties do not look at it that way. Regardless, a repurchase agreement is generally accepted to be and is considered a secured loan. The interest rate behind this loan is at a fixed rate. A repurchase agreement is when a seller sells a security to a buyer with an agreement in advance to buy the securities back at a later date (FASB, 2013).

Since the initial seller has to pay back the sum and usually with interest or some other sort of gratuity tacked on, it is effectively a form of borrowing by the initial seller by using the securities exchanging hands as a form of collateral if the seller does not make way with what they owe when the agreed-upon time horizon to pay back the funds lapses. Just about any security can be used in a repurchase agreement but most buyers (i.e. The money lender) in a repo agreement will general want something that is highly liquid (i.e. easily turned into cash) just in case the agreement is broken if/when the seller does not pay back the loan (FASB, 2013).

Now that the definition is out of the way, it should be noted that the rule change proposed by the Financial Accounting Standards Board would clarify the guidance for distinguishing repurchase transactions as either sales or secured borrowings, and this is because this distinction matters greatly in the account world. Another benefit of the proposal, if enacted and executed as is desired, is that it would improve the properness and timeliness of disclosures as made by entities that engage in repurchase transactions so that proper reporting transparency and honestly is revealed in what security-trading organizations reveal to their shareholders and stakeholders (FASB, 2013).

Why Proposal is Important

The end of the prior section segues nicely into the overall reasons that the proposal is important, that being that the current rules for accounting vis-a-vis repurchase agreements does not completely and concisely clarify the obligations and risks that are present for the different parties involved at any given time and this should be corrected. The two main points that could and should be answered as it relates to the above are as follows (FASB, 2013).

First, the transferor has a credit risk related to the transferred asset and this should be made quite clear in the accounting and reporting as it relates to the transaction. The second and final main point to be clarified and fleshed out is the fact that the transferor retains the benefits of the transferred asset and not the transferee. These two distinctions and points are very vital and important to understand as it relates to timely and correct accounting reporting and the current framework apparently does not address that concern in full (FASB, 2013).

Determining Effective Control

Effective control of a repurchase agreement asset is something that is not easy to figure out on first glance because it can vary a lot based on the value of the asset, when it is transferred, when it is scheduled to transfer back and what the current date is relative to the last two items just mentioned. In short, a repurchase agreement security is considered to be retained and under the control of the transferor so long as two different conditions are met (FASB, 2013).

The first is that that transaction is considered secured borrowing if the agreement to repurchase the security is for the same or "substantially the same" as what was conveyed during the transaction and it has to be before the maturity of the security in question. The second point to keep in mind is that it is considered a sale, and not a secure loan, if the asset matures before the repurchase agreement expires (FASB, 2013).

What Proposal is Working Towards

There is definitely a science and a pre-defined/preferred arc to where these Financial Accounting Standards Board (and other) actions are headed. This direction, as it currently is manifested and constructed, can be summarized using a few data points. First, the transferor in these repurchase agreements would have effective control over the asset during the term of the agreement so long as the agreement is still in force (FASB, 2013).

Second, any such repurchase agreement will generally be considered secure borrowing unless the maturity date is on or before the end date of the agreement. Third, accounting for repurchase agreements would be more comparable the standards laid forth previously by the International Financial Reporting Standards, which gives the Financial Accounting Standards Board proposals a compatibility with international businesses like those in the European Union, Australia and other financially prominent countries in the international sphere (FASB, 2013) .

Aligning Financial Accounting Standards Board and International Financial Reporting Standards rulebooks is a net gain to everyone involved because it gives uniformity of accounting standards and requirements from country to country and two of the major players in the international accounting sphere are obviously going be singing from the same hymnal, so to speak. Another benefit from the proposal and what it is working towards is that there will be clarification on what it means for an asset to be substantially the same and what it means for them to be different. What defines a "same" asset when the form and/or function of the asset changes mid-agreement matters quite a bit (FASB, 2013).

Another development with the more current standards from the Financial Accounting Standards Board include separate accounting transactions for the initial transfer and the repurchase event. On that same note, there will be improve disclosures and those will take on two major forms. The first is that secure borrowing agreements would now require that the transferor of the asset to disclose the gross amount of the total borrowing for the asset that will be used as collateral as part of the transaction. Second, the proposal would require the transferor to disclose the carrying amount of the applicable repurchase agreement asset derecognized during the applicable reporting period. As part of that, the transferor would have to disclose, as a matter of requirement, the reasons… [END OF PREVIEW]

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