The interdependence of corporate lying

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The interdependence of corporate lying

Postby dtcochrane » Tue Oct 27, 2015 6:06 pm

This article from the NYT details a study that found the misstatement of financial data in corporate reports is proliferated by others who copy the impropriety.

I found a few portions of the report particularly interesting:

"It turns out that copycats abound in corporate America. Companies emulated their peers with remarkable precision, the study found.
'In a sense, restatements serve as handbooks of trickery,' [one of the report's authors, Shivaram] Rajgopal said."

This idea that accountancy is being conducted with an eye on the practices of one's corporate brethren kind of undermines the idea of accounting as an objective undertaking. This would also suggest that it's better to lie today, then revise the past to the truth tomorrow.

"Of course, companies in troubled industries might cook their books because of financial or operational challenges, not in response to peers’ earnings reporting practices. Recognizing this, the academics eliminated cases of what they called “contemporaneous adoption” from their study. That way, they could be confident their results pointed clearly to companies engaging in copycat earnings manipulation."

Again, accounting is not a practice distinct from the other material and expressive realities a business faces. Yet, so much trust is placed in those numbers.
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