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Disclosure and the Cost of Capital: Evidence from Firms’ Responses to the Enron Shock

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  • Christian Leuz
  • Catherine Schrand

Abstract

This paper examines the link between disclosure and the cost of capital. We exploit an exogenous cost of capital shock created by the Enron scandal in Fall 2001 and analyze firms’ disclosure responses to this shock. These tests are opposite to the typical research design that analyzes cost of capital responses to disclosure changes. In reversing the tests and using an exogenous shock, we mitigate concerns about omitted variables in traditional cross-sectional disclosure studies. We estimate shocks to firms’ betas around the Enron events and the ensuing transparency crisis. Our analysis shows that these beta shocks are associated with increased disclosure. Firms expand the number of pages of their annual 10-K filings, notably the sections containing the financial statements and footnotes. The increase in disclosure is particularly pronounced for firms that have positive cost of capital shocks and larger financing needs. We also find that firms respond with additional interim disclosures (e.g., 8-K filings) and that these disclosures are complementary to the 10-K disclosures. Finally, we show that firms’ disclosure responses reduce firms’ costs of capital and hence the impact of the transparency crisis.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14897.

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Date of creation: Apr 2009
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14897

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Cited by:
  1. John, Kose & Reisz, Alexander S., 2010. "Temporal resolution of uncertainty, disclosure policy, and corporate debt yields," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 16(5), pages 655-678, December.
  2. Dey, Aiyesha, 2010. "The chilling effect of Sarbanes-Oxley: A discussion of Sarbanes-Oxley and corporate risk-taking," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 49(1-2), pages 53-57, February.
  3. Alexander, Cindy R. & Bauguess, Scott W. & Bernile, Gennaro & Lee, Yoon-Ho Alex & Marietta-Westberg, Jennifer, 2013. "Economic effects of SOX Section 404 compliance: A corporate insider perspective," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 267-290.
  4. Forssbaeck, Jens & Oxel, Lars, 2014. "The Multi-faceted Concept of Transparency," Working Paper Series, Research Institute of Industrial Economics 1013, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.

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