We examine the role and economic consequences of emotions in shaping the judgment of corporate executives. Analyzing a large sample of U.S. public firms, we find that sunshine-induced good mood leads managers to make upwardly biased earnings forecasts. Importantly, our evidence implies that managers become less susceptible to the sunshine priming effect in unambiguous settings, when their forecasts are subject to stricter external monitoring, and when they have stronger incentives to issue accurate forecasts. Additional tests show that equity market participants discern less informative signals from forecasts influenced by sunshine and that managers prone to the sunshine priming effect impose costs on their firms in the form of higher information risk and equity financing costs. Reflecting that labor markets also play a disciplinary role, we find that mood prone managers suffer adverse career outcomes. We provide the first large-scale analysis on the nuanced ways in which emotions affect top executives.
ABSTRACT Using a large sample of U.S. firms spanning the period 2000–2010, we document a strong positive association between the sensitivity of CEO compensation portfolio to stock return volatility (vega) and audit fees. We also show that the positive association between vega and audit fees is weaker in the post-Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) period. In supplementary tests, we show that the relation between vega and audit fees is stronger for firms with older CEOs and in firms where the CEO is also chairman of the board. Collectively, our results suggest that audit firms incorporate executive risk-taking incentives in the fees they charge for their services. JEL Classifications: M41; M42; M52.