Price controls1 have a major impact on firms' earnings and cash flows. Because price control regulation is costly to firms, it is a type of regulatory intervention that can impact a firm's accounting decisions (Watts and Zimmerman, 1978). Thus, regulatory changes that give firms relief from price controls provide incentives for earnings management. This paper examines discretionary accruals made by New Zealand manufacturing firms in response to two sets of regulations issued in 1971 and 1972. These regulations allowed manufacturing firms to apply for price increases to gain relief from financial hardship caused by the 1970 Price Freeze Regulation. Using a modified accruals mode! that adjusts for price‐level movements, the paper tests discretionary accruals of two samples of manufacturing firms and one control sample of nonmanufacturing firms. The results provide evidence of income decreasing discretionary accruals by manufacturing firms for the years during which they could apply for price increases. The control firms do not exhibit significant discretionary accruals in 1971 or 1972. Also, this paper provides evidence that failing to adjust for price‐level movements in high inflationary periods could result in inferences of income decreasing discretionary accruals where none may exist.
Contemporary Accounting Research – Wiley
Published: Jun 1, 1999
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