Public Firm Presence, Financial Reporting, and the Decline of U.S. Manufacturing
Journal of Accounting Research, Forthcoming
63 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2019 Last revised: 1 Oct 2021
Date Written: August 11, 2019
We examine the relation between public firm presence and import competition. The information created by public firm presence may provide importers with insights they can use for competing with domestic firms. Consistent with this possibility, we document a positive relation between public firm presence and import competition. We find similar results when using differences in the expected costs of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act as a source of plausibly exogenous variation in public firm presence after the act. We use differences in the proportion of German firms reporting publicly around a major enforcement reform as a natural mechanism experiment, and find evidence that financial reporting is a channel through which public firm presence relates to import competition. Additional mechanism tests and a falsification test estimated in the United Kingdom, where public and most private firms report publicly, further support this inference. In total, our evidence is consistent with foreign competitors using the information created by public firm presence, including what public firms disclose in financial reports, to compete with domestic firms. Consequently, our results provide evidence of competitors using the proprietary information disclosed in financial reports to compete with the disclosing firms and of information frictions affecting trade.
Keywords: Competition, Trade, Private Firms, Public Firms, Financial Reporting, Proprietary Costs, Disclosure Externalities
JEL Classification: F14, F16, G18, G38, L60, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation