The statement ‘Uniform accounting standards produce uniform financial reporting’ is ideal but untrue. The standard referred to in this essay will be the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Adoption of IFRS, which include old and revised IAS, was the approach selected by Europe and many other countries. More than 100 countries have agreed to require or allow adoption of IFRS, or have established timelines for the adoption of IFRS. However, not all 122 jurisdictions that follow it will have the same standards set for financial reports produces. Additionally, studies of the properties of accounting output find that similar standards are applied very differently around the world (Ball, Robin and Wu 2003). Differences in accounting practices across countries can result in similar economic transactions being recorded differently. This lack of comparability complicates cross-border financial analysis and investment (e.g., Harris 1998, Hawkins 2000, Bradshaw, Bushee, and Miller 2004). International standard setters have argued that this dilemma could be solved by creating a single set of global accounting standards. However, accounting research indicates that global implementation of the standards would vary, resulting in a failure to achieve the desired comparability. That research has tested for comparability either by examining compliance with disclosure rules or comparing properties of accounting information globally, (Bradshaw, M. and G. Miller, 2008). Why they are not uniform:
The reason why they are not uniform is because of the cost of meeting a certain standard varies from one nation to another. Before fully implanting the IFRS, the jurisdiction would have to analyse the potential costs and benefits from IFRS adoption. It may be more cost effective to partially implement it given that an existing system is already being put into play. Also, each nation may have different legal traditions. Hence the effect of using IFRS may vary depending on the legal system used, (Jeanjean, T. and H. Stolowy, 2008). The IFRS claims to put forward “transparency”. IFRS reduce the amount of reporting discretion relative to many local GAAP and, in particular, push firms to improve their financial reporting. Consistent with this argument, Ewert and Wagenhofer (2005) show that tightening the accounting standards can reduce the level of earnings management and improve reporting quality. However, reducing the amount of reporting discretion can in fact make it harder for firms to convey information through their financial statements (e.g., Watts and Zimmerman, 1986), and furthermore regional differences in economies may not be adequately reflected in a common set of standards. Therefore, a single set of standards might not accommodate the differences in national institutional features (Ball et al., 2003; Ball, 2006), which caused divergent accounting systems to arise in the first place (Ali and Hwang, 2000; Ding et al., 2007). Also, due variety of institutional and geographical environments, early adoption of IFRS (prior to 2005) was not possible for some nations. Relationship:
Empirical studies on the economic consequences of voluntary IFRS adoptions generally analyze direct capital-market effects, such as liquidity or cost of capital, or the effects on various market participants, such as the impact on analyst forecast properties or on the holdings of institutional investors. Leuz and Verrecchia (2000) examine German firms that adopt IAS or U.S. GAAP and find that those firms exhibit lower bid-ask spreads and higher turnover compared with German GAAP firms. Using implied cost of capital estimates, Cuijpers and Buijink (2005) do not find significant differences across local GAAP and IFRS firms in the European Union (EU). Daske (2006) examines voluntary IAS adoption by German firms and finds that they exhibit a higher cost of equity capital than local GAAP firms. Daske et al. (2007) show that...
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