Acceptance of Accounting Standards

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When financial statements are audited, a client and auditor may disagree about an accounting disclosure. While the disclosure of such a disagreement may increase the information content of a statement it may also be socially undesirable in that it signals a difference in views about the state of the reporting enterprise. This in turn may increase agency costs and introduce uncertainty about the state of the firm. In this paper we focus on public policy implications concerning auditor-client disagreements and examine the ex ante probability that such cases will occur. We find that accounting standards that allow two accounting options may be optimal in reducing frequency of disagreements among auditors and between standard-setters and their constituencies, and possibly also between clients and their auditors. The New Zealand model of compliance with accounting standards may be preferable to that practiced in the US.

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