The financial crisis and mark‐to‐market accounting

William L. Smith (New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA)
David M. Boje (New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA)
Kevin D. Melendrez (New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA)

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management

ISSN: 1176-6093

Publication date: 31 August 2010



The purpose of this paper is to analyze media storytelling and rhetoric surrounding the credibility of the longstanding accounting practice of mark‐to‐market valuation.


The cascading storytelling model of progressive framing by the media of mark‐to‐market valuation was applied to story subsets of the three types of classic Aristotelian rhetorical appeals.


The authors found that the media blamed the accounting profession's mark‐to‐market valuation practices as substantive cause of recent corporate problems and declines in market values. In addition, the rhetorical framing of mark‐to‐market accounting practices in the media prompted the Financial Accounting Standards Board to a rush to judgment.

Research limitations/implications

The paper is limited to the analysis of the storytelling included. Different results from other sources may provide another result.

Practical implications

The failure in the media to address the duality between the logos of accounting and the ethos of the media narratives exacerbated the cascading activation. Understanding this duality may provide a different lens in looking at information dissemination. This is not only relative to stakeholders in making more informed decisions but should also serve as a warning to the profession, to have more voice, to use a rhetorical strategy that can have more saliency in the public arena.


The paper examined storytelling as interplay of retrospective narrative, the presentness of living story, and the antenarratives shaping the future of not only the unfolding economic crisis, but the future of accounting itself. In terms of rhetoric, we extended the application of pathos, ethos, and logos by examining a cascading activation theory model. This is one of the few studies of antenarratives and how through cascade rhetoric the future is shaped.



Smith, W., Boje, D. and Melendrez, K. (2010), "The financial crisis and mark‐to‐market accounting", Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Vol. 7 No. 3, pp. 281-303.

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