Reasonably Certain Estimates, Recognition, and Communication of Uncertainty

43 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2006

Date Written: September 2006


This paper presents a model in which asset/liability recognition is a means for a risk-neutral entrepreneur to communicate with risk-averse investors about the riskiness of investments or the uncertainty of future obligations. The model shows that more conservative accounting may produce less conservative investing and lower expected payoffs for the entrepreneur. While the desired uncertainty-based recognition hurdle is increasing in an asset's expected payoff, it is decreasing in a liability's expected magnitude. The impact of further sub-categorization of recognized assets is also considered. While finer classification of assets produces no direct benefit, it may provide a cost-effective means to reduce the entrepreneur's incentives to engage in costly voluntary disclosure.

Keywords: Recognition, Uncertainty

JEL Classification: M13, M41, M43, M45

Suggested Citation

Magee, Robert P., Reasonably Certain Estimates, Recognition, and Communication of Uncertainty (September 2006). Available at SSRN: or

Robert P. Magee (Contact Author)

Northwestern University ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States
847-491-2676 (Phone)
847-467-1202 (Fax)

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