alexa On the Asymmetric Recognition of Good and Bad News in France, Germany and the United Kingdom
Business & Management

Business & Management

Journal of Business & Financial Affairs

Author(s): Begoa Giner, William Rees

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We investigate whether accounting systems recognise bad news more promptly in earnings than good news, where news is proxied by changes in share price. The analysis is based on a sample of firm/years drawn from France, Germany, and the UK during 1990 to 1998. These three countries are the originators of three distinct legal traditions. Previous studies have argued that asymmetric recognition, one manifestation of conservative accounting, is sensitive to legal background and history. We find that in all three countries the contemporaneous association between earnings and returns is much stronger for bad news (i.e. when price changes are negative) than for good news, and although the results are strongest for the UK, and then France, the inter-country differences are not statistically significant. The stronger reaction to bad news is more pronounced for firms with relatively low capitalisation. We also find that the relative persistence of profits and losses are consistent with asymmetric recognition in France and the UK, but not in Germany, and that the more timely recognition of bad news is maintained even when we control for earnings persistence. When we extend the model to include price changes from previous periods, we see that the stronger reaction to bad news decays over time. The results from this model also suggest that 'pervasive' conservatism, unrelated to news, is observed in Germany and France, but the UK results are consistent with optimism. Although asymmetric recognition is generally strongest in the UK and weakest in Germany, and this broadly conforms to our expectations, the differences are less clear than the results from earlier periods. Copyright Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2001.

This article was published in Journal of Business Finance & Accounting and referenced in Journal of Business & Financial Affairs

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