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Disclosure and the Cost of Capital: Evidence from Firms' Responses to the Enron Shock

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  • Christian Leuz
  • Catherine Schrand

Abstract

This paper examines the link between disclosure and the cost of capital. We exploit an exogenous cost of capital shock created by the Enron scandal in Fall 2001 and analyze firms' disclosure responses to this shock. These tests are opposite to the typical research design that analyzes cost of capital responses to disclosure changes. In reversing the tests and using an exogenous shock, we mitigate concerns about omitted variables in traditional cross-sectional disclosure studies. We estimate shocks to firms' betas around the Enron events and the ensuing transparency crisis. Our analysis shows that these beta shocks are associated with increased disclosure. Firms expand the number of pages of their annual 10-K filings, notably the sections containing the financial statements and footnotes. The increase in disclosure is particularly pronounced for firms that have positive cost of capital shocks and larger financing needs. We also find that firms respond with additional interim disclosures (e.g., 8-K filings) and that these disclosures are complementary to the 10-K disclosures. Finally, we show that firms' disclosure responses reduce firms' costs of capital and hence the impact of the transparency crisis.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Leuz & Catherine Schrand, 2009. "Disclosure and the Cost of Capital: Evidence from Firms' Responses to the Enron Shock," NBER Working Papers 14897, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14897
    Note: CF
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14897.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Guay, Wayne & Samuels, Delphine & Taylor, Daniel, 2016. "Guiding through the Fog: Financial statement complexity and voluntary disclosure," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 234-269.
    2. Forssbaeck, Jens & Oxel, Lars, 2014. "The Multi-Faceted Concept of Transparency," Working Paper Series 1013, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    3. John, Kose & Reisz, Alexander S., 2010. "Temporal resolution of uncertainty, disclosure policy, and corporate debt yields," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 16(5), pages 655-678, December.
    4. Billings, Mary Brooke & Jennings, Robert & Lev, Baruch, 2015. "On guidance and volatility," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 161-180.
    5. Dey, Aiyesha, 2010. "The chilling effect of Sarbanes-Oxley: A discussion of Sarbanes-Oxley and corporate risk-taking," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1-2), pages 53-57, February.
    6. Bloomfield, Matthew J. & Bloomfield, Robert, 2015. "Discussion of delegated trade and the pricing of public and private information," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 104-109.
    7. Stefan Arping & Zacharias Sautner, 2010. "Did the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 make Firms less Opaque? Evidence from Analyst Earnings Forecasts," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 10-129/2/DSF 5, Tinbergen Institute.
    8. Fiechter, Peter & Zhou, Jie, 2016. "The Impact of the Greek Sovereign Debt Crisis on European Banks' Disclosure and its Economic Consequences," The International Journal of Accounting, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 85-117.
    9. Alexander, Cindy R. & Bauguess, Scott W. & Bernile, Gennaro & Lee, Yoon-Ho Alex & Marietta-Westberg, Jennifer, 2013. "Economic effects of SOX Section 404 compliance: A corporate insider perspective," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 267-290.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading
    • G30 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - General
    • M41 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Accounting
    • M42 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Auditing

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