SYNOPSIS

This is a personal essay that contains my views on some of the recent history and evolution of the theory of financial accounting and disclosures. The essay starts by discussing how research on information economics by Hirshleifer and Akerlof combined with Demski's critique of academic assessments of accounting standards shifted theoretical research toward emphasizing the role of voluntary disclosures. Grossman's and Milgrom's “unravelling result” is reviewed, as are recent modeling efforts that provide a foundation for studying firms' incomplete voluntary disclosures. The paper also speaks to some contemporary financial reporting problems, such as fair value accounting, and also to an assessment of some recent financial innovations, such as so-called flash trading.

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