Statement No. 72
Fair Value Measurement and Application
This Statement addresses accounting and financial reporting issues related to fair value measurements. The definition of fair value is the price that would be received to sell an asset or paid to transfer a liability in an orderly transaction between market participants at the measurement date. This Statement provides guidance for determining a fair value measurement for financial reporting purposes. This Statement also provides guidance for applying fair value to certain investments and disclosures related to all fair value measurements.
Fair Value Measurement
Fair value is described as an exit price. Fair value measurements assume a transaction takes place in a government’s principal market, or a government’s most advantageous market in the absence of a principal market. The fair value also should be measured assuming that general market participants would act in their economic best interest. Fair value should not be adjusted for transaction costs.
To determine a fair value measurement, a government should consider the unit of account of the asset or liability. The unit of account refers to the level at which an asset or a liability is aggregated or disaggregated for measurement, recognition, or disclosure purposes as provided by the accounting standards. For example, the unit of account for investments held in a brokerage account is each individual security, whereas the unit of account for an investment in a mutual fund is each share in the mutual fund held by a government.
This Statement requires a government to use valuation techniques that are appropriate under the circumstances and for which sufficient data are available to measure fair value. The techniques should be consistent with one or more of the following approaches: the market approach, the cost approach, or the income approach. The market approach uses prices and other relevant information generated by market transactions involving identical or comparable assets, liabilities, or a group of assets and liabilities. The cost approach reflects the amount that would be required to replace the present service capacity of an asset. The income approach converts future amounts (such as cash flows or income and expenses) to a single current (discounted) amount. Valuation techniques should be applied consistently, though a change may be appropriate in certain circumstances. Valuation techniques maximize the use of relevant observable inputs and minimize the use of unobservable inputs.
This Statement establishes a hierarchy of inputs to valuation techniques used to measure fair value. That hierarchy has three levels. Level 1 inputs are quoted prices (unadjusted) in active markets for identical assets or liabilities. Level 2 inputs are inputs—other than quoted prices—included within Level 1 that are observable for the asset or liability, either directly or indirectly. Finally, Level 3 inputs are unobservable inputs, such as management’s assumption of the default rate among underlying mortgages of a mortgage-backed security.
A fair value measurement takes into account the highest and best use for a nonfinancial asset. A fair value measurement of a liability assumes that the liability would be transferred to a market participant and not settled with the counterparty. In the absence of a quoted price for the transfer of an identical or similar liability and if another party holds an identical item as an asset, a government should be able to use the fair value of that asset to measure the fair value of the liability.
This Statement requires additional analysis of fair value if the volume or level of activity for an asset or liability has significantly decreased. It also requires identification of transactions that are not orderly. Quoted prices provided by third parties are permitted, as long as a government determines that those quoted prices are developed in accordance with the provisions of this Statement.
Fair Value Application
This Statement generally requires investments to be measured at fair value. An investment is defined as a security or other asset that (a) a government holds primarily for the purpose of income or profit and (b) has a present service capacity based solely on its ability to generate cash or to be sold to generate cash. Investments not measured at fair value continue to include, for example, money market investments, 2a7-like external investment pools, investments in life insurance contracts, common stock meeting the criteria for applying the equity method, unallocated insurance contracts, and synthetic guaranteed investment contracts. A government is permitted in certain circumstances to establish the fair value of an investment that does not have a readily determinable fair value by using the net asset value per share (or its equivalent) of the investment.
This Statement requires measurement at acquisition value (an entry price) for donated capital assets, donated works of art, historical treasures, and similar assets and capital assets received in a service concession arrangement. These assets were previously required to be measured at fair value.
Fair Value Disclosures
This Statement requires disclosures to be made about fair value measurements, the level of fair value hierarchy, and valuation techniques. Governments should organize these disclosures by type of asset or liability reported at fair value. It also requires additional disclosures regarding investments in certain entities that calculate net asset value per share (or its equivalent).
The requirements of this Statement are effective for financial statements for periods beginning after June 15, 2015. Earlier application is encouraged.
How the Changes in This Statement Improve Financial Reporting
The requirements of this Statement will enhance comparability of financial statements among governments by requiring measurement of certain assets and liabilities at fair value using a consistent and more detailed definition of fair value and accepted valuation techniques. This Statement also will enhance fair value application guidance and related disclosures in order to provide information to financial statement users about the impact of fair value measurements on a government’s financial position.
Unless otherwise specified, pronouncements of the GASB apply to financial reports of all state and local governmental entities, including general purpose governments; public benefit corporations and authorities; public employee retirement systems; and public utilities, hospitals and other healthcare providers, and colleges and universities. Paragraph 3 discusses the applicability of this Statement.