Daniel A. Bens
Professor of Accounting and Control
Beatty and Weber examine an accounting choice that managers made upon adoption of Statement of Financial Accounting Standards 142: whether to record a goodwill asset impairment as a cumulative effect of an accounting change at the time of adoption or delay the recognition of such an impairment to the future (perhaps indefinitely) when they would be recorded as expenses in earnings from continuing operations.
The author considers several factors that might influence management’s reporting of transition effects, including contracting, equity market incentives, and regulatory forces. Participants at the 2005 Journal of Accounting Research Conference questioned whether such a complex accounting decision can be captured with simple linear models and noisy proxy variables, while also speculating upon whether the results would generalize to other settings.In this discussion, the author summarizes Beatty and Weber’s research, highlight its contribution to the accounting literature, and provide a record of the main issues raised by the conference participants.