Income Smoothing and Big Bath

Topics: Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, Revenue, Management Pages: 2 (549 words) Published: August 15, 2012
The accounting literature provides broad evidence that managers use discretion in financial statements for purposeful adjustments of earnings figures beyond the true and fair view (Leuz et al. 2003, cited by U. Schäffer et al., 2012). There are two methods which are Income Smoothing and Big Bath. “Income Smoothing involves taking steps to reduce the good years and defer them for use during the business down-turn years” (Gin Chong, 2006). In comparison, Big Bath manipulation in the financial statistics indicates a great fluctuation. However, Income Smoothing is more ethical in accounting practice than Big Bath due to the reasons compared below.

Income Smoothing has been applied in financial accounting because of its value. At first, a company uses it as a method to avoid a significant drop in its stake price due to missing a predetermined target. This method can be achieved in the annual financial reporting by accounting measures, like delaying current advertisements fee from the current to the forthcoming period, or gaining the provision of arrangements of bad debts. Managers sometimes have to do this; they make a bit change on the financial statements in order to avoid an obvious market reaction in a particular period. Furthermore, if a company’s developing-line fluctuates frequently up and down, its stakeholders and managers will lose their passion or confidence in the long run. "An overwhelming 96.9% of the survey respondents indicate that they prefer a smooth earnings path"(Graham et al., 2005, cited by Tucker and Zarowin, 2006). In most cases, management seeks to have a steady and predictable growing rate, with the hope that the market will associate smooth earnings with lower risk and higher stock prices and managers may personally benefit if incentive plans reward smoother earnings. At last, the theory of Income Smoothing is suitable to the current social trend. Therefore, it is considered to be a creative accounting method and has been widely applied...
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