remeasurement under GAAP - pensions

When calculating periodic pension cost, what is the point of having beginning assets * expected return when you have to take the difference between actual return and expected return anyways?

Can’t you just save one step and take actual return?

Because the expected return on pension assets and the difference between the actual and expected return each show up on a GAAP financial statement separately.

The expected return on plan assets is part of net periodic pension costs. It flows directly through the income statement and affects net income.

The difference between actual and expected returns DOESN’T flow immediately through the income statement. It’s amortized over time.

Why do this? Because pension asset returns can be volatile. Companies hate it when their net income flops around quarter to quarter. This smooths it out.