The Effects of IFRS Adoption on Observed Earnings Smoothing Properties: The Confounding Effects of Changes in TimelyGain and Loss Recognition


European Accounting Review

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Départements : Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Mots clés : Earnings smoothing, Timely gain recognition, Timely loss recognition, Earnings quality

Ball and Shivakumar [(2006), The role of accruals in asymmetrically timely gain and loss recognition. Journal of Accounting Research, 44, 207–242] show that the observed smoothness of earnings (i.e. negative contemporaneous correlation between accruals and cash flows) is the joint product of the role of accruals in smoothing out transitory fluctuations in operating cash flows (noise reduction role) and the role of accruals in providing timely recognition of economic gains and losses (contracting role). These two roles of accruals have opposite effects on earnings smoothness properties. Using a regression framework that allows us to simultaneously consider both roles, we show that failing to control for changes in timely gain and loss recognition as firms shift to IFRS can lead to erroneous inferences regarding the effects of IFRS adoption on earnings smoothness, and consequently on researcher’ conclusions about how IFRS adoption has affected accounting quality. Our results are consistent with mandatory (2005) IFRS adoption resulting in a change in the contracting role rather than the noise reduction role (or smoothness role) of accruals. A decrease in timely loss recognition, an increase in timely gain recognition, and a net decrease in asymmetric timely loss recognition are what drives the change in observed smoothness properties of earnings around mandatory IFRS adoption