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Enforceable Accounting Rules and Income Measurement by Early 20th Century Railroads


  • Kumar Sivakumar
  • Gregory Waymire


We investigate the extent to which income measurement by major early 20th-century U.S. railroads shows evidence of lower income smoothness and increased conservatism following new fixed asset accounting rules issued by the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) in 1907 and 1908 and concurrent rate regulation regime shifts. Accounting rules promulgated by the ICC after the Hepburn Act of 1906 are the first accounting rules in U.S. history in which regulators could enforce such rules under federal law to increase compliance. Our samplewide results are more consistent with increased conservatism than with income smoothing. Additional tests indicate these effects are more pronounced for firms subject to more intense rate regulation by the ICC, which suggests that the tie-in between accounting regulation and product/service market regulation influences how managers respond to new accounting rules. Copyright University of Chicago on behalf of the Institute of Professional Accounting, 2003.

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  • Kumar Sivakumar & Gregory Waymire, 2003. "Enforceable Accounting Rules and Income Measurement by Early 20th Century Railroads," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(2), pages 397-432, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:joares:v:41:y:2003:i:2:p:397-432

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Fohlin, Caroline & Gehrig, Thomas & Haas, Marlene, 2015. "Rumors and Runs in Opaque Markets: Evidence from the Panic of 1907," CEPR Discussion Papers 10497, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Chi, Wuchun & Wang, Chenchin, 2010. "Accounting conservatism in a setting of Information Asymmetry between majority and minority shareholders," The International Journal of Accounting, Elsevier, vol. 45(4), pages 465-489, December.
    3. Juan Manuel Garcia Lara & Araceli Mora, 2004. "Balance sheet versus earnings conservatism in Europe," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(2), pages 261-292.
    4. Dechow, Patricia & Ge, Weili & Schrand, Catherine, 2010. "Understanding earnings quality: A review of the proxies, their determinants and their consequences," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(2-3), pages 344-401, December.
    5. Juan Manuel García Lara & Beatriz García Osma & Fernando Penalva, 2009. "The Economic Determinants of Conditional Conservatism," Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(3-4), pages 336-372.
    6. Barton, Jan & Waymire, Gregory, 2004. "Investor protection under unregulated financial reporting," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 65-116, December.
    7. Garry D. Carnegie & Christopher J. Napier, 2012. "Accounting's past, present and future: the unifying power of history," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 25(2), pages 328-369, February.
    8. Bushee, Brian J. & Leuz, Christian, 2005. "Economic consequences of SEC disclosure regulation: evidence from the OTC bulletin board," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 233-264, June.
    9. Gehrig, Thomas Paul & Fohlin, Caroline & Haas, Marlene, 2015. "Liquidty Freezes and Market Runs; Evidencefrom the Panic of 1907," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113008, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

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