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Income smoothing among European systemic and non-systemic banks

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  • Peterson, Ozili K.
  • Arun, Thankom G.

Abstract

There is scant research on the financial reporting behaviour of global systemically-important banks (G-SIBs) and non-global systemically-important banks (non-G-SIBs). We examine the link between financial reporting and financial system stability given the understanding that income smoothing is a stability mechanism for banks. We empirically examine whether the way G-SIBs use loan loss provisions (LLPs) to smooth income differ compared to non-G-SIBs and the incentive to do so. We examine 231 European banks and find that income smoothing is pronounced among G-SIBs in the post-crisis period and pronounced among non-G-SIBs in the pre-crisis period. Also, G-SIBs exhibit greater income smoothing when they: (i) have substantial non-performing loans, (ii) are more profitable and meet/exceed minimum regulatory capital ratios (iii) engage in forward-looking loan-loss provisioning and during recessionary periods. The implication of our findings is that capital regulation and abnormal economic fluctuations create incentives for systemic banks to use accounting numbers (loan loss provisions) to smooth income, which also align with the financial system stability objective of bank regulators. Our findings are useful to accounting standard setters in their evaluation of the role of reported accounting numbers for financial system stability, given the current regulatory environment in Europe which focuses on systemic banks.

Suggested Citation

  • Peterson, Ozili K. & Arun, Thankom G., 2018. "Income smoothing among European systemic and non-systemic banks," The British Accounting Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(5), pages 539-558.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:bracre:v:50:y:2018:i:5:p:539-558
    DOI: 10.1016/j.bar.2018.03.001
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    Keywords

    Loan loss provisions; Income smoothing; Europe; Systemic banks; Accounting information; Financial reporting;

    JEL classification:

    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • M41 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Accounting

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