When Martin Sullivan, the former president and CEO of AIG, appeared before Congress this year, he blamed a seemingly arcane accounting rule for contributing to his company's woes: The "mark-to-market" rule that requires companies to value their assets at what they would sell for in the marketplace, even if they weren't planning to sell them for a while.
Banks had also been complaining about mark-to-market, saying it made their balance sheets look worse than they were.
But a new report by the Securities and Exchange Commission now says the mark-to-market rules "did not appear to play a meaningful role in bank failures occurring during 2008."
Congress ordered the Securities and Exchange Commission to review mark-to-market as part of the $700 billion bailout bill. The report recommends keeping the rule in place.