Editor's Note: The debate over mark-to-market rules could result in major changes for financial companies such as Citigroup, AIG, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and many others. We welcome a variety of opinions about how this should be addressed. To submit an opinion, please click here to send an email to the editor.By Ian A. O'Connor Securities held by financial institutions that are backed by non-performing level 3 assets (i.e. home mortgages) have frozen the world's credit markets. Unfreezing the credit system, however, can be done without abandoning the FASB mark-to-market rule, which states that "starting Nov. 15, 2007, fair value at any given moment is the price you can sell the thing for, period." The ending of the U.S. mortgage-backed securities debt instrument crisis lies in utilizing a tool found in the insurance industry's toolbox -- the tried and true concept of insuring the underlying asset for replacement cost value and not actual cash value. This places a stable, quantitatively known "mark to market" value on homes, condominiums, commercial buildings, etc., because insurance underwriters do not promulgate a premium based on what someone paid for a property. Their singular task is to make sure the insurance company gets the correct premium for a replacement cost policy. There are several property valuation companies that operate in all 50 states and the key to their industry-wide acceptance and their success starts with a zip code. Each zip code has a unique "cost of construction index" which falls either below or rises above a nationally accepted "base index" of 1.0. For example, a single story, 3,000 square foot, brick, barrel tile roof, four bedroom, three bath, living room, dining room, kitchen, laundry room, 2-car garage, no pool, 10-year old home in Fairfield, Connecticut, zip code 06825, will have a replacement cost of $600,000, as of March 2009. Let's further say that this value is 2.25% above the national base construction index for all homes with similar amenities and upgrades.