Market and Political/Regulatory Perspectives on the Recent Accounting Scandals

65 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2009  

Ray Ball

University of Chicago - Accounting

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Not surprisingly, the recent accounting scandals look different when viewed from the perspectives of the political/regulatory process and of the market for corporate governance and financial reporting. We do not have the opportunity to observe a world in which either market or political/regulatory processes operate independently, and the events are recent and not well-researched, so untangling their separate effects is somewhat conjectural. This paper offers conjectures on issues such as: What caused the scandalous behavior? Why was there such a rash of accounting scandals at one time? Who killed Arthur Andersen – the SEC, or the market? Did fraudulent accounting kill Enron, or just keep it alive for too long? What is the social cost of financial reporting fraud? Does the US in fact operate a “principles-based” or a “rules-based” accounting system? Was there market failure? Or was there regulatory failure? Or both? Was the Sarbanes-Oxley Act a political and regulatory over-reaction? Does the U.S. follow an ineffective regulatory model?

JEL Classification: M41, G34, G38, M49

Suggested Citation

Ball, Ray, Market and Political/Regulatory Perspectives on the Recent Accounting Scandals. Available at SSRN: or

Ray Ball (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Accounting ( email )

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