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The Economics of Fraudulent Accounting

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  • Simi Kedia
  • Thomas Philippon

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Simi Kedia & Thomas Philippon, 2005. "The Economics of Fraudulent Accounting," NBER Working Papers 11573, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11573
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bergstresser, Daniel & Philippon, Thomas, 2006. "CEO incentives and earnings management," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 511-529, June.
    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. 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.
    4. 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, June.
    5. 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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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E0 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General
    • G3 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance

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