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Are banks using hidden reserves to beat earnings benchmarks? Evidence from Germany

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  • Bornemann, Sven
  • Kick, Thomas
  • Memmel, Christoph
  • Pfingsten, Andreas

Abstract

Section 340f of the German Commercial Code allows banks to provision against the special risks inherent to the banking business by building hidden reserves. Beyond risk provisioning, these reserves are implicitly accepted as an earnings management device. By analyzing financial statements of German banks for the period 1997–2009, we see these hidden reserves being used to (1) avoid a negative net income, (2) avoid a drop in net income compared to the previous year, (3) avoid a shortfall in net income compared to a peer group, and (4) reduce the variability of banks’ net income over time. Our analysis also shows that if bank managers are unable to reach the targets as set out in (1)–(3), they are more inclined to keep the hidden reserves for use in future periods.

Suggested Citation

  • Bornemann, Sven & Kick, Thomas & Memmel, Christoph & Pfingsten, Andreas, 2012. "Are banks using hidden reserves to beat earnings benchmarks? Evidence from Germany," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(8), pages 2403-2415.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jbfina:v:36:y:2012:i:8:p:2403-2415
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jbankfin.2012.05.001
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Dombret, Andreas & Gündüz, Yalin & Rocholl, Jörg, 2017. "Will German banks earn their cost of capital?," Discussion Papers 01/2017, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    2. Domikowsky, Christian & Bornemann, Sven & Duellmann, Klaus & Pfingsten, Andreas, 2014. "Loan loss provisioning and procyclicality: Evidence from an expected loss model," Discussion Papers 39/2014, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    3. Kaposty, Florian & Pfingsten, Andreas & Domikowsky, Christian, 2017. "Market Discipline, Deposit Insurance, and Competitive Advantages: Evidence from the Financial Crisis," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168146, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    4. Henselmann, Klaus & Ditter, Dominik & Lupp, Philipp, 2016. "The Effects of the Financial Crisis on Cooperative Banks in Europe – A Critical Comparison –," Working Papers in Accounting Valuation Auditing 2016-1, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Accounting and Auditing.
    5. Köhler, Matthias, 2013. "Does non-interest income make banks more risky? Retail- versus investment-oriented banks," Discussion Papers 17/2013, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    6. repec:hur:ijaraf:v:7:y:2017:i:4:p:134-145 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Claudia M. Buch & Esteban Prieto, 2014. "Do Better Capitalized Banks Lend Less? Long-Run Panel Evidence from Germany," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(1), pages 1-23, March.
    8. Köhler, Matthias, 2014. "Does non-interest income make banks more risky? Retail- versus investment-oriented banks," Review of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 182-193.
    9. Memmel, Christoph & Gündüz, Yalin & Raupach, Peter, 2015. "The common drivers of default risk," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 16(C), pages 232-247.
    10. Nippel, Peter, 2015. "Eine finanzwirtschaftliche Analyse der Risikovorsorge für erwartete Verluste im Kreditgeschäft," Manuskripte aus den Instituten für Betriebswirtschaftslehre der Universität Kiel 659, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Institut für Betriebswirtschaftslehre.
    11. Bornemann, Sven & Pfingsten, Andreas & Kick, Thomas & Schertler, Andrea, 2014. "Earnings baths by bank CEOs during turnovers," Discussion Papers 05/2014, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    12. Onali, Enrico & Ginesti, Gianluca, 2015. "New Accounting Rules for Loan Loss Provisions in Europe: Much Ado about Nothing?," MPRA Paper 64266, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 10 May 2015.
    13. Köhler, Matthias, 2012. "Which banks are more risky? The impact of loan growth and business model on bank risk-taking," Discussion Papers 33/2012, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    14. Bornemann, Sven & Kick, Thomas & Pfingsten, Andreas & Schertler, Andrea, 2015. "Earnings baths by CEOs during turnovers: empirical evidence from German savings banks," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 188-201.
    15. Sven Bornemann & Susanne Homölle & Carsten Hubensack & Thomas Kick & Andreas Pfingsten, 2014. "Visible Reserves in Banks – Determinants of Initial Creation, Usage and Contribution to Bank Stability," Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(5-6), pages 507-544, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Earnings management; Income smoothing; Hidden reserves; Prospect theory; Financial institution;

    JEL classification:

    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • M41 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Accounting

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