The Financial Accounting Standards Board has postponed the release of a rule to overhaul how banks calculate loan losses.
The board, which sets accounting guidelines, will release the rule in the first quarter of next year rather than this year as previously planned, a spokeswoman for the board said Wednesday. The FASB board discussed the topic at a meeting on Wednesday but did not vote on a final rule.
The controversial loan-loss model, opposed by many bankers, would require banks to set aside expected losses, calculated based on historical loss rates, for every loan they make as soon as the loan goes on the balance sheet. Currently, banks begin adding to provisions when loans start to sour.
Although the rule is still being written, the FASB voted Wednesday that it will take effect in 2019 for public companies and 2020 for all others.
Banking regulators have voiced support for the rule change, which is intended to fix a problem that arose during the financial crisis: Under the current rules, banks set aside too little in good times and then massively ramp up provisions during times of stress. That reduces banks' capital when they most need it, proponents of the change say.
Critics, however, argue that the proposed rule would turn loss provisioning into a speculative exercise, and would require modeling calculations beyond the capabilities of small banks.
While it did not vote on the loan-loss model, the FASB's board voted Wednesday to change rules for disclosing the valuation of some equity investments, debt and loans.
These changes are significant but won't affect banks' profits and losses, according to Mike Gullette, vice president for accounting and financial management at the American Bankers Association.