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How Did Financial Reporting Contribute to the Financial Crisis?

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How did Financial Reporting Contribute to the Financial Crisis?

Mary E. Barth Graduate School of Business Stanford University Stanford, CA, 94305 mbarth@stanford.edu. Wayne R. Landsman Kenan-Flagler Business School University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599 wayne_landsman@unc.edu.

May 2010 Forthcoming, European Accounting Review, 2010

We appreciate comments from seminar participants at the Bank of Spain, Rob Bloomfield, Elicia Cowins, Hilary Eastman, Gavin Francis, Christian Kusi-Yeboah, Jim Leisenring, Martien Lubberink, Richard Rendleman, David Tweedie, and an anonymous reviewer. We acknowledge funding from the Center for Finance and Accounting Research at UNC-Chapel Hill and the Stanford Graduate School of Business Center for Global Business and the Economy.

Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1601519

How did Financial Reporting Contribute to the Financial Crisis? Abstract We scrutinize the role financial reporting for fair values, asset securitizations, derivatives, and loan loss provisioning played in the Financial Crisis. Because banks were at the center of the Financial Crisis, we focus our discussion and analysis on the effects of financial reporting by banks. We conclude fair value accounting played little or no role in the Financial Crisis. However, transparency of information associated with asset securitizations and derivatives likely was insufficient for investors to assess properly the values and riskiness of bank assets and liabilities. Although the FASB and IASB have taken laudable steps to improve disclosures relating to asset securitizations, in our view, the approach for accounting for securitizations in the IASB’s Exposure Draft that would require banks to recognize whatever assets and liabilities they have after the securitization is executed better...

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