Media Advisory 10-29-20

FASB Issues Proposal to Clarify Scope of Recent Reference Rate Reform Guidance


Stakeholders encouraged to review and comment on the proposal by November 13, 2020

Norwalk, CT—October 29, 2020—The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) today issued a proposed Accounting Standards Update (ASU) that would clarify the scope of  the FASB’s recent reference rate reform guidance. Stakeholders are asked to review and provide input on the proposed ASU by November 13, 2020.

Trillions of dollars in loans, derivatives, and other financial contracts reference the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), the benchmark interest rate banks use to make short-term loans to each other. With global capital markets expected to move away from LIBOR, the FASB took on a project to help ease the potential accounting burden.

As a result of that project, in March 2020 the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update No. 2020-04—Reference Rate Reform (Topic 848): Facilitation of the Effects of Reference Rate Reform on Financial Reporting. Topic 848 provides temporary, optional expedients and exceptions for applying generally accepted accounting principles to contract modifications and hedging relationships, subject to meeting certain criteria, that reference LIBOR or another reference rate expected to be discontinued.

Since then, stakeholders have raised questions about whether Topic 848 can be applied to derivative instruments that do not reference a rate that is expected to be discontinued but that use an interest rate for margining, discounting, or contract price alignment that is modified as a result of reference rate reform. Stakeholders indicated that the modification, commonly referred to as the “discounting transition,” may have accounting implications. These stakeholders raised concerns about the need to reassess previous accounting determinations related to those contracts and about the hedge accounting consequences of the discounting transition.

The amendments in this proposed ASU would clarify that certain optional expedients and exceptions in Topic 848 for contract modifications and hedge accounting apply to contracts that are affected by the discounting transition. Amendments in this proposed ASU to the expedients and exceptions in Topic 848 are included to capture the incremental consequences of the proposed scope refinement and to tailor the existing guidance to derivative instruments affected by the discounting transition.

The proposed ASU, including information on how to submit comments, is available at www.fasb.org.