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The Economics of Fraudulent Accounting

  • Simi Kedia
  • Thomas Philippon

We argue that earnings management and fraudulent accounting have important economic consequences. In a model where the costs of earnings management are endogenous, we show that in equilibrium, bad managers hire and invest too much in order to pool with the good managers. This behavior distorts the allocation of economic resources among firms. We test the predictions of the model using new historical and firm-level data. First, we show that periods of high stock market valuations are systematically followed by large increases in reported frauds. We then show that during periods of suspicious accounting, firms hire and invest excessively, while insiders exercise options and sell stocks. When the misreporting is detected, firms shed labor and capital and productivity improves. In the aggregate, our model seems able to account for periods of jobless and investment-less growth.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w11573.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11573.

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Date of creation: Aug 2005
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Publication status: published as Kedia, Simi and Thomas Philippon. "The Economics of Fraudulent Accounting." Review of Financial Studies 22, 6 (2009): 2169-2199.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11573
Note: AP EFG
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  1. Dechow, Patricia M. & Kothari, S. P. & L. Watts, Ross, 1998. "The relation between earnings and cash flows," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 133-168, May.
  2. Philippon, Thomas, 2006. "Corporate governance over the business cycle," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 30(11), pages 2117-2141, November.
  3. Paul Gompers & Joy Ishii & Andrew Metrick, 2003. "Corporate Governance And Equity Prices," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 107-155, February.
  4. Bergstresser, Daniel & Philippon, Thomas, 2006. "CEO incentives and earnings management," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 511-529, June.
  5. Eli Ofek & David Yermack, 2000. "Taking Stock: Equity-Based Compensation and the Evolution of Managerial Ownership," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(3), pages 1367-1384, 06.
  6. Ilan Guttman & Ohad Kadan & Eugene Kandel, 2003. "Adding the Noise: A Theory of Compensation-Driven Earnings Management," Discussion Paper Series dp355, The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
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