Bank Earnings Management and Tail Risk during the Financial Crisis
44 Pages Posted: 22 May 2012 Last revised: 14 Feb 2014
Date Written: October 5, 2012
We show that a pattern of earnings management in bank financial statements has little bearing on downside risk during quiet periods, but seems to have a big impact during a financial crisis. More aggressive earnings managers prior to 2007 exhibit substantially higher risk once the financial crisis begins. This risk is evident in both the incidence of large weekly stock price “crashes” as well as in the pattern of full-year returns. Consistent with the literature on earnings management and crash risk in industrial firms, these results support the hypothesis that banks can use accounting discretion to hide relevant information for some time, but in a period of severe distress in which accounting choices can no longer obscure performance, information comes out in larger amounts, resulting in substantially worse stock market returns. We also show that these stock price crashes predict future deterioration in operating performance, which is of greater direct relevance to regulators, and thus may serve as an early warning signal of impending problems.
Keywords: financial institutions, opacity, crashes, transparency
JEL Classification: G01, G11, G21, G28, M40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation