Economic Crisis and Accounting Evolution
Gregory B. Waymire
Emory University - Department of Accounting
Temple University - Department of Accounting
March 1, 2011
Emory Law and Economics Research Paper No. 11-98
We study changes in financial reporting around economic crises from a historical perspective through the lens of punctuated equilibrium evolution. Historical evidence and contemporary economic analyses indicate that corporate financial reporting plays a minor role in precipitating economic crises but might help amplify them. Economic crises likely play a role similar to major shocks in biological environments by selecting accounting practices, accounting principles, firms and regulatory institutions for survival based on how well they adapt to post-crisis environments. Conscious attempts to improve accounting in the wake of crises, whether through market or political forces, may not prove as beneficial as hoped because we currently know far too little about the causes of economic crises or the consequences of abrupt changes to complex adaptive systems such as accounting. We outline several questions for future research.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 59
Keywords: selection, transformation, migration, unintended consequences, pretense of knowledge
JEL Classification: M41, B25
Date posted: March 5, 2011
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