Economic Growth and Financial Statement Verification
77 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2014 Last revised: 2 Sep 2016
Date Written: August 1, 2016
We use a proprietary dataset of financial statements collected by banks to examine whether economic growth is related to the use of financial statement verification in debt financing. Exploiting the distinct economic growth and contraction patterns of the construction industry over the years 2002 to 2011, our estimates reveal that banks reduced their collection of unqualified audited financial statements from construction firms at nearly twice the rate of firms in other industries during the housing boom period before 2008. This reduction was most severe in the regions that experienced the most significant construction growth. These trends reversed during the sub-sequent housing crisis in 2008 to 2011 when construction activity contracted. Moreover, using bank- and firm-level data we find a strong negative (positive) relation between audited financial statements during the growth period and subsequent loan losses (construction firm survival) during the contraction period. Collectively, our results reveal that macroeconomic fluctuations pro-duce temporal shifts in the overall level of financial statement verification and that temporal shifts in verification are related to bank loan portfolio quality and borrower performance.
Keywords: economic growth, commercial lending, banks, financial crisis, audit, verification, financial statements, lending standards
JEL Classification: D82, E32, E44, G21, M40
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