We show that a mid-2000s increase in US extraterritorial enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), characterized by greater international regulatory cooperation and more frequent use of the FCPA’s accounting provisions, has a significant deterrent effect on foreign direct investment in high-corruption-risk countries. The decrease in investment is at least as large for non-US as for US firms, suggesting that increased extraterritorial enforcement helps to level the foreign-investment playing field. Firms with fundamental characteristics that make it more difficult to maintain effective internal controls invest less in high-corruption-risk countries, suggesting regulatory compliance costs play an important role in deterring investment. Consistent with investments in accounting systems being one margin firms move on to limit enforcement risk when investing in high-corruption-risk countries, firms pursuing new investments spend more time evaluating potential acquisition targets and firms with existing investments report fewer internal-control weaknesses and restatements related to unintentional errors.
[Journal of Accounting Research, 2020, 58(5): 1075-1116]
I examine how mandatory extraction payment disclosures (EPD) ─ a policy solution intended to discourage corporate payment avoidance in the oil, gas, and mining industries ─ affect fiscal revenue contributions and investments by multinational firms in foreign host countries. Using the staggered adoption of EPD across firms headquartered in Europe and Canada, I find that disclosing companies increase their payments to host governments, decrease investments, and obtain fewer extraction licenses relative to non-disclosing competitors. These effects are stronger for firms that face a high risk of public shaming, operate in corrupt host countries, and have a high exposure to bribery-prone payments, suggesting that EPD increases the reputational cost of corporate behavior that could be perceived as exploitative. The resulting reallocation of investments from disclosing to non-disclosing firms reduces drilling productivity and resource production in host countries, consistent with uneven disclosure regulation distorting capital allocation.
(with Christian Laux) [Journal of Accounting Research, 2017, 55(2): 237-273]
In light of the current debate about the link between accounting and financial stability, we investigate the determinants of procyclical book leverage for US commercial and savings banks. We find that total asset growth and GDP growth are both positively related to book leverage growth. Our evidence is not consistent with the notion that fair value accounting contributes to procyclical leverage or that historical cost accounting reduces procyclicality. Overall, the business model of banks is more important for procyclical leverage than accounting or regulatory risk weights.
We examine the impact of foreign corruption regulation on economic development in high-corruption-risk areas. We find that, after a mid-2000s increase in enforcement of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), economic activity (measured by nighttime luminosity) in African communities within a 50-kilometer radius of natural resource extraction facilities subject to the FCPA increases by 8%. Local perceptions of corruption also significantly decline. Consistent with the increase in economic activity being driven, at least in part, by existing extraction firms shifting to business practices that are more beneficial to the local communities where they operate, the association between resource production and local economic activity increases by 37%. Overall, our findings suggest that anti-corruption regulation originating in developed countries is effective in changing corporate behavior and has a positive economic impact in developing countries.
We examine how open procurement data affect the award procedures and execution of government contracts. The European Union recently made its historical procurement notices available for bulk download in a cohesive and user-friendly database. Comparing government contracts above and below EU publication thresholds, we find that, after the open data initiative, procurement officials are more likely to award treated contracts through open bidding. Consistent with open data promoting higher public scrutiny, the effect on open bidding is stronger in countries with larger increases in negative procurement-related media coverage. However, treated contracts are also more likely to experience costly modifications, a result for which we find two separate underlying channels. First, the shift to more rigid open bidding procedures limits officials’ discretion in selecting suppliers based on private information (competitive bidding channel). Second, open data exacerbate voter pressure on officials to award contracts based on the lowest price (price focus channel). Our results replicate in an alternative open data setting, suggesting that our inferences apply more broadly.
We study the consumption response to the provision of credit lines to individuals that previously did not have access to credit combined with the possibility to elicit directly a large set of preferences, beliefs, and motives. As expected, users react to the availability of credit by increasing their spending permanently and reallocating consumption from non-discretionary to discretionary goods and services. Surprisingly, though, liquid users react more than others and this pattern is a robust feature of the data. Moreover, liquid users lower their savings rate, but do not tap into negative deposits. The credit line seems to act as a form of insurance against future negative shocks and its mere presence makes users spend their existing liquidity without accumulating any debt. By eliciting preferences, beliefs, and motives directly, we show these results are not fully consistent with models of financial constraints, buffer stock models with and without durables, present-bias preferences, uncertainty about future income, bequest motives, or the canonical life-cycle permanent income model. We label this channel the perceived precautionary savings channel, because liquid households behave as if they faced strong precautionary savings motives even though no observables suggest they should based on standard theoretical models.
This course provides an introduction to financial statements and the financial reporting process from a user's perspective. The focus of the course is on fundamental accounting concepts and principles. Students learn how the economic transactions of a firm are reported in the financial statements and related disclosures. The objective of the course is to provide students with basic skills necessary to read and analyze financial statements as well as to prepare students for more advanced financial statement analysis courses.