Accounting Choices and Capital Allocation: Evidence from Large Private U.S. Firms
72 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2014 Last revised: 6 Jan 2017
Date Written: December 1, 2016
We provide new evidence on the relation between capital allocation and firms’ accounting choices. Using confidential data on the production of audited GAAP financial statements by large privately held U.S. firms, we focus on an economically important setting that controls approximately $10 trillion of capital, but is not subject to financial reporting mandates. Our main findings are threefold. First, we find the majority of firms (over 60%) do not produce audited GAAP financial statements, which publicly held firms are mandated to produce. Second, in contrast to prior literature focusing on debt contracting in the setting of private firms, the evidence reveals that capital allocated via equity and trade credit is more strongly related to the decision to produce audited GAAP financial statements compared to debt. Third, exploiting variation across firm, industry, and time, we find characteristics such as growth opportunities, firm youth, and the presence of intangibles are positively related to audited GAAP statements. Our findings have implications for the future use of accounting as the economy shifts to firms with softer assets and fewer firms turn to public equity markets for capital.
Keywords: audit, private firms, accounting choice, financial reporting, capital formation
JEL Classification: M41, M44, M49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation