Level 1, 2, and 3 assesses a company's assets based on the degree of certainty around the asset's underlying value. Level one assets can be valued with certainty because they are liquid and have clear market prices. At the other end of the spectrum, Level 3 assets are illiquid and estimating their value requires inputs that are unobservable and reflect management assumptions.
Financial assets and liabilities whose values are based on unadjusted, quoted prices for identical assets or liabilities in an active market (examples include active exchange-traded equity securities, listed derivatives, most U.S. Government and agency securities, and certain other sovereign government obligations). If you can look up an up-to-date price on a major exchange it's a level 1 asset.
Financial assets and liabilities whose values are based on their quoted prices in inactive markets, or whose values are based on models - but the inputs to those models are observable either directly or indirectly for substantially the full term of the asset or liability. Level 2 inputs include the following: a) Quoted prices for similar assets or liabilities in active markets (for example, restricted stock); b) Quoted prices for identical or similar assets or liabilities in non-active markets (examples include corporate and municipal bonds, which trade infrequently); c) Pricing models whose inputs are observable for substantially the full term of the asset or liability (examples include most over-the-counter derivatives, including interest rate and currency swaps); and d) Pricing models whose inputs are derived principally from or corroborated by observable market data through correlation or other means for substantially the full term of the asset or liability (examples include certain residential and commercial mortgage related assets, including loans, securities and derivatives).
Financial assets and liabilities whose values are based on prices or valuation techniques that require inputs that are both unobservable and significant to the overall fair value measurement. These inputs reflect management’s own assumptions about the assumptions a market participant would use in pricing the asset or liability (examples include certain private equity investments, certain residential and commercial mortgage related assets (including loans, securities and derivatives), and long-dated or complex derivatives including certain foreign stock exchanges, foreign options and long dated options on gas and power). Level 3 assets trade infrequently, as a result there are not many reliable market prices for them. Valuations of these assets are typically based on management assumptions or expectations.