The Credibility of Financial Reporting: A Reputation-Based Approach
40 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2017 Last revised: 2 Feb 2017
Date Written: January 26, 2017
This paper studies the reliability of financial reporting when the credibility of the manager, represented by his misreporting propensity, is unknown. We show that credibility concerns affect the time-series of reported earnings, book values, and stock prices in ways that seem consistent with empirical evidence. When investors are uncertain about the credibility of the reporting process, earnings response coefficients as well as market-to-book values MTB are random and time-varying; relatively low MTB reflect poor credibility of financial reporting; stock prices are s-shaped in earnings surprises and relatively insensitive to bad news. Finally, when the manager is more likely to have reporting discretion, discretionary accruals tend to be larger and more volatile. We estimate the model using U.S. earnings announcement data during 2002-2012 and find that the probability of misreporting is 7%. A counterfactual analysis reveals that ignoring the possibility of misreporting leads to overestimation of the mean (3.5%), volatility (13%) and persistence of earnings (17%).
Keywords: dynamic cheap talk, reputation, credibility
JEL Classification: D82, D83, D84
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation