Earnings management during the IFRS implementation and the financial crisis in Greece
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As accounting quality cannot be easily observed, researchers have used some measurement models, mostly concerning earnings management, conservatism and value relevance. The most common used measure is earning management that, according to Healy and Wahlen (1999), refers to the managers’ ability to use judgement in financial reporting and manipulate information in order to mislead and serve their own interests in general. Healy (1985) is the first to mention earnings management using the term “discretionary accrual”. Greece’s economy mandated IFRS reporting for listed entities in 2005, in order to improve accounting information quality. Unfortunately, the financial crisis of 2009, as a consequence of the general crisis in Europe, led the country in recession until nowadays. The question is if these two incidents that characterized the decade, had a significant impact on earnings management of Greek entities or not. In the present research it has been revealed that in the years after the IFRS implementation total accruals have increased significantly, but in the years after the financial crisis total accruals have decreased even more. Specifically, total accruals after the financial crisis have become lower that such in the years before IFRS implementation. In the same time, in the years after the IFRS implementation discretionary accruals have increased significantly as well, but in the years after the financial crisis discretionary accruals have increased even more, in contrast to the total accruals values of the same period. On the other hand, after the financial crisis managers realized that they could not gain more and they turned their attention into transporting the heavy taxes and the debts into next periods and that may be why discretionary accruals have increased so much, while total accruals noted a decrease. The theory that Greek companies adopt techniques to manipulate their earnings has been proved. A further research to confirm or not this theory could rely on real earnings management metrics. In order to valuate real earnings management, the variables used could be the abnormal level of CFO, discretionary expenses and the abnormal level of production costs, as indicators of real activities manipulations. In addition, the year 2014 has been characterized as the year of exit of the recession and beginning of the country’s development. Therefore, it would be interesting to examine managers’ manipulation in accounting reporting comparing both real earnings management as well as accrual-based management during the period of recession and the period after the recession.