The effects of Taxes, agency costs and information asymmetry on earnings management: A comparison of public and private firms

Anne Beatty, David G. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

116 Scopus citations

Abstract

The realization of securities gains and losses to manage earnings in publicly-traded bank holding companies has been documented in a large number of studies, but very little is known about why managers engage in this behavior. Two possible explanations for earnings management put forth by Warfield, Wild, and Wild (1995) are that managers engage in this behavior either to circumvent accounting-based contracts designed to mitigate agency problems, or to reduce information asymmetry. We compare public and private banks' realizations of securities gains and losses to determine how their earnings management differs. We find that public banks consistently engage in more earnings management than private banks, and that the portion of their current period securities gains and losses attributable to earnings management is more positively associated with next period's earnings before securities gains and losses. These findings are consistent with earnings management occurring due to greater information asymmetry in public firms, and suggest that earnings management may not necessarily lead to the erosion in the quality of earnings suggested by Levitt (1998).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-326
Number of pages28
JournalReview of Accounting Studies
Volume4
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 1 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)

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