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Mark-to-Market for dummies

01

April, 2009

Lets say you own a 1988 Dodge Aries K-car.  Its got 157,000 miles on it.  It is pretty banged up – lots of dents, rusting paint and when you start it up, black smoke comes out of the tailpipe.  You would love to sell this but there are not many buyers for Dodge K-cars and they don’t sell often.  You look on Ebay and see one sold about 3 months ago for $1500.  You think this price is way too low – after all, this is one fine automobile (chicks really dig it).

Now, you are about to fill out a loan application to buy one of those foreclosed houses that was  built in Florida on a old landfill.  To see if you are qualified for the loan, the banker wants you to list all your assets and what they are worth.  When you list your K-car, you are torn about what to write down for its value.  You know it has to be worth more than the $1500 that the one on Ebay sold for.  Heck, if you just wait long enough, someone is bound to come along and pay you $25,000. 

Under current FASB rules, you need to value that K-Car at $1500.  But if they relax the mark-to-market rules tomorrow, then instantly your fine automobile is now worth 25 large.  Now, you will be able to get that loan and buy that foreclosure and probably flip it in 6 months for a huge profit. 

Make sure you send a thank you note to all those bank lobbyists in Washington that helped you get your loan.

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