Following the 2007–2009 financial crisis, regulators and investor groups alleged that auditors were reluctant to issue going concern opinions (GCOs) to distressed banks during the crisis, raising questions about the quality of auditors' GCO decisions. This paper investigates whether systemic risk influences auditors' GCO decisions during the crisis due to potential adverse spillover effects. Using 496 bank-year observations, we find that auditors are less likely to issue a GCO to systemically risky banks, and this auditor behavior reduces Type I errors without increasing Type II errors. The effects are more pronounced during the crisis period, especially for banks that are large and connected, have lower litigation risk, or are audited by Big 4 auditors or industry specialists. Overall, our findings suggest that during the crisis period, auditors were less likely to over-issue GCOs to systemically risky banks, resulting in more accurate GCOs.
JEL Classifications: M42; G20.