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Earnings Manipulation and Managerial Investment Decisions: Evidence from Sponsored Pension Plans

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  • Daniel Bergstresser
  • Mihir A. Desai
  • Joshua Rauh

Abstract

Managers appear to manipulate firm earnings when they characterize pension assets to capital markets and alter investment decisions to justify, and capitalize on, these manipulations. We construct a measure of the sensitivity of reported earnings to the assumed long-term rate of return on pension assets. Managers are more aggressive with assumed long-term rates of return when their assumptions have a greater impact on reported earnings. Managers also increase assumed rates of return as they prepare to acquire other firms and as they exercise stock options, further confirming the opportunistic nature of these increases. Decisions about assumed rates of return, in turn, influence asset allocation within pension plans. Instrumental variables results suggest that a 25 basis point increase in the assumed rate of return is associated with a 5% increase in equity allocation. Taken together, these results suggest that earnings manipulation arising from managerial motivations influences significant managerial investment decisions.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Bergstresser & Mihir A. Desai & Joshua Rauh, 2004. "Earnings Manipulation and Managerial Investment Decisions: Evidence from Sponsored Pension Plans," NBER Working Papers 10543, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10543
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. Yermack, David, 1997. " Good Timing: CEO Stock Option Awards and Company News Announcements," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(2), pages 449-476, June.
    6. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W., 2003. "Stock market driven acquisitions," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 295-311, December.
    7. Mary Margaret Frank, 2002. "The Impact of Taxes on Corporate Defined Benefit Plan Asset Allocation," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(4), pages 1163-1190, September.
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    9. Francesco Franzoni & José M. Marín, 2006. "Pension Plan Funding and Stock Market Efficiency," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(2), pages 921-956, April.
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    13. repec:hrv:faseco:30748164 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Francesco Franzoni & José M. Marín, 2006. "Pension Plan Funding and Stock Market Efficiency," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(2), pages 921-956, April.
    2. Malcolm Baker & Richard S. Ruback & Jeffrey Wurgler, 2004. "Behavioral Corporate Finance: A Survey," NBER Working Papers 10863, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Luciano Greco, 2005. "The Optimal Design of Funded Pension Plans: Unbundling Financing and Investment," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0003, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
    4. Francesco Franzoni & José M. Marín, 2003. "Pension Plan Funding and Market Efficiency," Working Papers 31, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    5. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 2009. "The Decline of Defined Benefit Retirement Plans and Asset Flows," NBER Chapters,in: Social Security Policy in a Changing Environment, pages 333-379 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Daniel, Naveen D. & Denis, David J. & Naveen, Lalitha, 2008. "Do firms manage earnings to meet dividend thresholds," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 2-26, March.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • M41 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Accounting
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects

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