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Competition in the Audit Market: Policy Implications

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  • Joseph J. Gerakos
  • Chad Syverson

Abstract

The audit market's unique combination of features-its role in capital market transparency, mandated demand, and concentrated supply-means it receives considerable attention from policymakers. We explore the effects of two market scenarios that have been the focus of policy discussions: a) further supply concentration due to one of the "Big 4" auditors exiting and b) mandatory audit firm rotation. To do so, we first estimate publicly traded firms' demand for auditing services, treating services provided by each of the Big 4 as differentiated products. We then use those estimates to calculate how each scenario would affect client firms' consumer surplus. We estimate that, conservatively, exit by one of the Big 4 would reduce client firms' surplus by $1.2-1.8 billion per year. These estimates reflect only firms' lost options to hire the exiting auditor; they do not include the likely fee increases resulting from less competition among auditors. We calculate that the latter could result in audit fee increases between $0.3-0.5 billion per year. Such losses are substantial; by comparison, total audit fees for public firms were $11 billion in 2010. We find similarly large impacts from mandatory audit firm rotation, estimating consumer surplus losses at approximately $2.4-3.6 billion if rotation were required after ten years and $4.3-5.5 billion if rotation were mandatory after only four years.

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph J. Gerakos & Chad Syverson, 2013. "Competition in the Audit Market: Policy Implications," NBER Working Papers 19251, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19251 Note: CF IO LE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Doogar, Rajib & Easley, Robert F., 1998. "Concentration without differentiation: A new look at the determinants of audit market concentration," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 235-253, June.
    2. John K. Dagsvik & Anders Karlström, 2005. "Compensating Variation and Hicksian Choice Probabilities in Random Utility Models that are Nonlinear in Income," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 57-76.
    3. repec:bla:joares:v:37:y:1999:i:1:p:225-238 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Craswell, Allen T. & Francis, Jere R. & Taylor, Stephen L., 1995. "Auditor brand name reputations and industry specializations," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 297-322, December.
    5. Joseph A. Herriges & Catherine L. Kling, 1999. "Nonlinear Income Effects in Random Utility Models," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(1), pages 62-72, February.
    6. Train,Kenneth E., 2009. "Discrete Choice Methods with Simulation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521747387, December.
    7. Amil Petrin, 2002. "Quantifying the Benefits of New Products: The Case of the Minivan," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(4), pages 705-729, August.
    8. Emilie Feldman, 2006. "A Basic Quantification of the Competitive Implications of the Demise of Arthur Andersen," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 29(3), pages 193-212, November.
    9. Watts, Ross L & Zimmerman, Jerold L, 1983. "Agency Problems, Auditing, and the Theory of the Firm: Some Evidence," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(3), pages 613-633, October.
    10. John Asker & Alexander Ljungqvist, 2010. "Competition and the Structure of Vertical Relationships in Capital Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(3), pages 599-647, June.
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    1. repec:spr:reaccs:v:22:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s11142-017-9429-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:spr:reaccs:v:22:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s11142-017-9418-y is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • G3 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance
    • K22 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Business and Securities Law
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L84 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Personal, Professional, and Business Services
    • M42 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Auditing

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