ABSTRACT

We examine the cost-effectiveness, from the shareholders' perspective, of the accounting standards issued by the FASB during 1973–2009. We evaluate (1) the stock market reactions of firms affected by the standards surrounding events that changed the standard's probability of issuance; and (2) whether the market reactions are related, in the cross-section, to agency problems, information asymmetry, proprietary costs, contracting costs, and changes in estimation risk. The average standard is a non-event from the investors' perspective because 104 of the 138 standards examined are associated with no change in shareholder value. Nineteen (15) standards are associated with a decrease (increase) in shareholder value. Surprisingly, 25 standards are associated with an increase in estimation risk. In the cross-section, firms with higher levels of information asymmetry, lower contracting costs, and a decrease in estimation risk experience most positive returns.

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