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Window-dressing in German inter-war balance sheets

Author

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  • Mark Spoerer

Abstract

German accounting rules value assets and liabilities asymmetrically and thus lead to grossly distorted balance sheets. In the inter-war debate on a reform of disclosure regulation, financial experts considered the (undisclosed) tax balance sheet, which had to be drawn up separately for the corporate tax assessment, as a paradigm for adequate financial disclosure. However, due to tax secrecy they were barred from analysing tax documents. Using archival evidence, we analyse tax balance sheets as a means of assessing the reliability of disclosed balance sheets of the inter-war period. It emerges that companies overstated their profits in the mid- and late-1920s, but grossly understated them in the Nazi economy.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Spoerer, 1998. "Window-dressing in German inter-war balance sheets," Accounting History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(3), pages 351-369.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:acbsfi:v:8:y:1998:i:3:p:351-369
    DOI: 10.1080/095852098330440
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. George J. Benston, 1994. "Universal Banking," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 121-143, Summer.
    2. Jeremy Edwards & Sheilagh Ogilvie, 1996. "Universal banks and German industrialization: a reappraisal," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 49(3), pages 427-446, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Malcolm Anderson, 1999. "Accounting History Publications 1998," Accounting History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(3), pages 375-384.
    2. Luis Fernandez-Revuelta & Donato Gomez & Keith Robson, 2002. "Fuerzas Motrices del Valle de Lecrin, 1936-9: accounting reports and ideological struggles in time of civil war," Accounting History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(2), pages 347-368.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Germany; Inter-war Period; Accounting History; Window-dressing; Tax Balance Sheet;

    JEL classification:

    • N24 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - Europe: 1913-

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