A Comparison of Between‐Country Measures of Legal Setting and Enforcement of Accounting Standards
50 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2015
Date Written: January/February 2015
Academics and practitioners agree that the enforcement of accounting standards has an important role in promoting high quality financial reporting and favourable capital market outcomes. We test three new enforcement proxies from Brown, Preiato and Tarca (2014) that focus specifically on auditing and accounting enforcement. We examine firms’ information environments, represented by the error in analysts’ consensus forecasts and the extent of disagreement among analysts, as indicated by forecast dispersion. For financial years ending from 2003 to 2009, we construct a sample of 357,034 firm–month observations on the errors and dispersion of analysts’ earnings forecasts for 10,769 firms domiciled in those 39 countries. We find that higher scores for all three proxies are associated with lower error and less disagreement in forecasts. In addition, we find that the indices have significant explanatory power when previously used enforcement proxies (such as Kaufmann et al.'s 2010 rule of law measure) are included in the regression models, pointing to the importance of specific measures of accounting enforcement. We conclude that accounting enforcement may be more important in securing favourable economic outcomes than has been previously realised, because researchers commonly have used noisier, more general legal proxies for enforcement that understate its marginal effects.
Keywords: legal system, enforcement of accounting standards, auditors, regulation, rule of law, International Financial Reporting Standards, IFRS, analysts’ forecasts, forecast error, forecast dispersion
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