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A Theory of Income Smoothing When Insiders Know More Than Outsiders

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  • Viral V. Acharya
  • Bart M. Lambrecht

Abstract

We consider a setting in which insiders have information about income that outside shareholders do not, but property rights ensure that outside shareholders can enforce a fair payout. To avoid intervention, insiders report income consistent with outsiders' expectations based on publicly available information rather than true income, resulting in an observed income and payout process that adjust partially and over time towards a target. Insiders under-invest in production and effort so as not to unduly raise outsiders' expectations about future income, a problem that is more severe the smaller is the inside ownership and results in an "outside equity Laffer curve". A disclosure environment with adequate quality of independent auditing mitigates the problem, implying that accounting quality can enhance investments, size of public stock markets and economic growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Viral V. Acharya & Bart M. Lambrecht, 2011. "A Theory of Income Smoothing When Insiders Know More Than Outsiders," NBER Working Papers 17696, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17696
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Fudenberg, Drew & Tirole, Jean, 1995. "A Theory of Income and Dividend Smoothing Based on Incumbency Rents," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(1), pages 75-93, February.
    2. Anand Mohan Goel, 2003. "Why Do Firms Smooth Earnings?," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76(1), pages 151-192, January.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D92 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Intertemporal Firm Choice, Investment, Capacity, and Financing
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G35 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Payout Policy
    • M41 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Accounting
    • M42 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Auditing
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth

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