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Does Fair Value Accounting for Non-Financial Assets Pass the Market Test?

50 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2008 Last revised: 27 Feb 2013

Hans Bonde Christensen

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Valeri V. Nikolaev

University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 10, 2013

Abstract

The choice between fair value and historical cost accounting is the subject of long-standing controversy among accounting academics and regulators. Nevertheless, the market-based evidence on this subject is very limited. We study the choice of fair value versus historical cost accounting for non-financial assets in a setting where market forces rather than regulators determine the outcome. In general, we find a very limited use of fair value accounting. However, the observed variation is consistent with market forces determining the choice. Fair value accounting is used when reliable fair value estimates are available at a low cost and when they convey information about operating performance. For example, with very few exceptions, firms’ managers commit to historical cost accounting for plant and equipment. Our findings contribute to the policy debate by documenting the market solution to one of the central questions in the accounting literature. Our findings indicate that despite its conceptual merits, fair value is unlikely to become the primary valuation method for illiquid non-financial assets on a voluntary basis.

Keywords: Fair Value, IFRS, Non-Financial Assets, Illiquid Assets

JEL Classification: M4, M41

Suggested Citation

Christensen, Hans Bonde and Nikolaev , Valeri V., Does Fair Value Accounting for Non-Financial Assets Pass the Market Test? (January 10, 2013). Review of Accounting Studies, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1269515 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1269515

Hans Bonde Christensen (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 South Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Valeri V. Nikolaev

University of Chicago Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 South Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/valeri.nikolaev/index.html

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