The Commitment Effect versus Information Effect of Disclosure - Evidence from Smaller Reporting Companies
Posted: 9 Nov 2009 Last revised: 3 Aug 2016
Date Written: December 15, 2010
We examine the commitment effect provided by mandatory disclosure and the information effect of voluntary disclosure on market illiquidity by exploring a regulatory change that allows smaller reporting companies to reduce the disclosure of certain information in their SEC filings. This regime change allows us to separate the commitment effect provided by mandatory disclosure from the information effect of voluntary disclosure. We find that firms eligible to reduce their disclosure, but voluntarily maintain their disclosure level experience an increase in market illiquidity. We also find that the increase in illiquidity is more pronounced for firms with higher agency costs. These findings suggest that mandatory disclosure serves as a credible commitment mechanism and that losing such commitment by disclosure deregulation is costly in the absence of a loss of information. Our study suggests that while voluntary disclosure is effective in reducing information asymmetry, it cannot replace mandatory disclosure in addressing information problems.
Keywords: Disclosure Regulation, Mandatory Disclosure, Commitment
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