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The Valuation Effect of Accounting Standard 158 on Firms with High and Low Financial Risk


  • Robert Houmes


  • Bob Boylan


  • Inga Chira



SFAS 158 mandated balance sheet disclosure of the funded status of firms’ Defined Benefit Pension Plan using the Projected Benefit Obligation (PBO) to estimate the pension liability. SFAS 158 caused a market phenomenon because the use of the PBO engendered dramatically higher estimates of pension liability and hence the perception of risk. Our work focuses on two aspects of this change in pension accounting: first, how will industry firms change their accounting strategy in light of the new rules, and second, how will firms’ stock prices be affected by the new allegedly better estimate of pension liability? Our research suggests that firms’ accounting strategies changed in that they use higher discount rates to estimate pension liability which offset the dramatic impact of using the PBO. In addition, we find that high financial risk firms’ tendencies to use higher discount rates increase with the firms’ leverage and decrease with liquidity. To test the market reaction we utilize standard event study methodology to investigate the effects of SFAS 158 on stock returns. Our findings suggest that firms with high (low) financial risk earn negative (positive) abnormal returns on and around relevant event dates preceding the implementation of SFAS 158. Copyright International Atlantic Economic Society 2011

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Houmes & Bob Boylan & Inga Chira, 2011. "The Valuation Effect of Accounting Standard 158 on Firms with High and Low Financial Risk," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 39(1), pages 47-57, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:atlecj:v:39:y:2011:i:1:p:47-57
    DOI: 10.1007/s11293-010-9257-8

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alberto Alesina & Silvia Ardagna & Roberto Perotti & Fabio Schiantarelli, 2002. "Fiscal Policy, Profits, and Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(3), pages 571-589, June.
    2. Francesco Giavazzi & Marco Pagano, 1995. "Non-Keynesian Effects of Fiscal Policy Changes: International Evidence and the Swedish Experience," NBER Working Papers 5332, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Fischer, Stanley, 1993. "The role of macroeconomic factors in growth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 485-512, December.
    4. Rzońca, Andrzej & Ciżkowicz, Piotr, 2005. "Non-Keynesian effects of fiscal contraction in new member states," Working Paper Series 519, European Central Bank.
    5. Alberto Alesina & Roberto Perotti, 1996. "Fiscal Adjustments in OECD Countries: Composition and Macroeconomic Effects," NBER Working Papers 5730, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Giavazzi, Francesco & Jappelli, Tullio & Pagano, Marco, 2000. "Searching for non-linear effects of fiscal policy: Evidence from industrial and developing countries," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(7), pages 1259-1289, June.
    7. Alberto Alesina & Roberto Perotti, 1996. "Fiscal Adjustments in OECD Countries; Composition and Macroeconomic Effects," IMF Working Papers 96/70, International Monetary Fund.
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    More about this item


    Projected benefit obligation; Funded status; Defined benefit pension plan; G30; G32;

    JEL classification:

    • G30 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - General
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill


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