Financial accounting standards require derivatives to be recognized at fair value with changes in value recognized immediately in earnings. However, if specified criteria are met, firms may use an alternative accounting treatment, hedge accounting, which is intended to better represent the underlying economics of firms' derivative use. Using FAS 161 disclosures, I examine determinants of hedge accounting use and the effects of hedge accounting on financial reporting and capital markets. I find variation in firms' hedge accounting use and provide evidence that compliance costs of applying hedge accounting affect firms' decision to use hedge accounting. Firms decrease their reported earnings volatility via derivatives that receive hedge accounting and could further decrease their earnings volatility if hedge accounting were applied to all their derivatives. Inconsistent with arguments given for using hedge accounting, I fail to find a decrease in investors' assessments of firm risk from using hedge accounting.

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