The Optimal Level of Earnings Management Deterrence

Michael Ehud Yampuler

Abstract


The social welfare costs of earnings management have been known to include the distortion of real investment decisions (resulting in inefficient allocation of resources), as well as deadweight loss incurred by the firms to manage earnings. One of the ways used to mitigate the effect of these costs is increasing the level of earnings management deterrence through legislation, regulation and enforcement, as in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. However, by analyzing a rational expectations equilibrium that includes firms, investors, standard-setters, and legislators, I find that there are situations where such an increase in the level of earnings management deterrence may well be counter-productive. When considering the informational benefits of managing earnings and the substitution effect of accrual-based earnings management with real earnings management, increasing deterrence may result in decreasing the information value of financial reporting as well as increasing total social welfare costs of earnings management.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/afr.v8n1p66

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Accounting and Finance Research
ISSN 1927-5986 (Print)   ISSN 1927-5994 (Online)

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