Research Interests: theoretical research in financial & managerial accounting.
Mirko Heinle teaches Managerial Accounting in the undergraduate program. He joined the Wharton School in 2011 after receiving his doctoral degree from the University of Mannheim, Germany. Mirko’s research interests concern accounting disclosure in capital markets, the regulatory process of such disclosure, and internal capital allocation. Current research includes the disclosure of risk related information, the effect of regulatory uniformity on lobbying incentives, and the optimal allocation of non-monetary resources.
Abstract: A growing empirical literature suggests managers view mandatory and voluntary disclosure as substitutes. We formalize the intuition in this literature in the context of a simple model of mandatory and voluntary disclosure. We use our model to highlight the limitations of existing empirical intuition, and discuss conditions under which mandatory and voluntary disclosure are (and are not) substitutes. We consider a setting where mandatory disclosure is a disaggregated disclosure (e.g., a financial statement), voluntary disclosure is an aggregate disclosure (e.g., an earnings forecast), and the costs of voluntary and mandatory disclosure are distinct. In this setting, we show that concerns about the proprietary cost of mandatory disclosure motivate managers to reduce the quality of mandatory disclosure and substitute voluntary disclosure. We test our predictions using a comprehensive sample of mandatory disclosures where the SEC allows the firm to redact information that would otherwise jeopardize its competitive position. Consistent with our predictions, we find strong evidence that redacted mandatory disclosure is associated with greater voluntary disclosure.
Abstract: While researchers and practitioners alike estimate firms' exposures to systematic risk factors, the disclosure literature typically assumes that exposures are common knowledge. We develop a model where the firm's exposure to a factor is unknown, and analyze the effect of factor-exposure uncertainty on share price and disclosure about the exposure. We find that: (i) factor-exposure uncertainty introduces skewness and excess kurtosis in the cash-flow distribution relative to the commonly used normal distribution; (ii) risk--factor disclosure affects all moments of that distribution; and (iii) the pricing of higher moments affects the price response of disclosure and the incentives to disclose. For example, factor-exposure uncertainty may actually increase price when the uncertainty implies positive skewness in the cash flow distribution. Hence, a reduction in uncertainty through disclosure may increase cost of capital. We also extend our model to multiple firms and show that factor-exposure uncertainty manifests as uncertainty about a firm's CAPM beta.
Abstract: In this paper, we consider the price effects of risk disclosure. We develop a model in which investors are uncertain about the variance of a firm’s cash flows and the firm releases an imperfect signal regarding this variance. In our model, uncertainty over the riskiness of a firm’s cash flows leads to a variance uncertainty premium in its price. We demonstrate that risk disclosure decreases the firm’s cost of capital by reducing this premium and that the market response to risk disclosure is small when the expected level of risk is high. Moreover, we find that firms acquire and disclose more risk information when their cash flow risk is greater than expected. Finally, we demonstrate that in a multi-asset setting, only risk disclosure concerning systematic risks will impact the cost of capital.
Henry Friedman and Mirko S. Heinle (2016), Taste, Information, and Asset Prices: Implications for the Valuation of CSR, Review of Accounting Studies, 21 (3), pp. 740-767.
Abstract: Firms often undertake activities that do not necessarily increase cash flows (e.g., costly investments in corporate social responsibility, or CSR), and some investors value these non-cash activities (i.e., they have a "taste" for these activities). We develop a model to capture this phenomenon and focus on the asset-pricing implications of differences in investors' tastes for firms' activities and outputs. Our model shows that, first, investor taste differences provide a basis for investor clientele effects that are endogenously determined by the shares demanded by different types of investors. Second, because the market must clear at one price, investors' demands are influenced by all dimensions of firm output even if their preferences are only over some dimensions. Third, information releases cause trading volume, even when all investors have the same information. Fourth, investor taste provides a rationale for corporate spin-offs that help firms better target their shareholder bases. Finally, individual social responsibility can lead to corporate social responsibility when managers care about stock price because price reacts to investments in CSR activities.
Alex Edmans, Mirko S. Heinle, Chong Huang (2016), The Real Costs of Financial Efficiency When Some Information Is Soft, Review of Finance, 20 (6), pp. 2151-2182.
Abstract: This article shows that improving financial efficiency may reduce real efficiency. While the former depends on the total amount of information available, the latter depends on the relative amounts of hard and soft information. Disclosing more hard information (e.g., earnings) increases total information, raising financial efficiency and reducing the cost of capital. However, it induces the manager to prioritize hard information over soft by cutting intangible investment to boost earnings, lowering real efficiency. The optimal level of financial efficiency is non-monotonic in investment opportunities. Even if low financial efficiency is desirable to induce investment, the manager may be unable to commit to it. Optimal government policy may involve upper, not lower, bounds on financial efficiency.
Henry Friedman and Mirko S. Heinle (Work In Progress), Influence activities, coalitions, and uniform policies.
Abstract: This study examines the costs and benefits of uniform accounting regulation in the presence of heterogeneous firms who can lobby the regulator. A commitment to uniform regulation reduces economic distortions caused by lobbying by creating a free-rider problem between lobbying firms at the cost of forcing the same treatment on heterogeneous firms. Resolving this trade-off, an institutional commitment to uniformity is socially desirable when firms are sufficiently homogeneous or the costs of lobbying to society are large. We show that regulatory intensity for a given firm can be increasing or decreasing in the degree of uniformity, even though uniformity always reduces lobbying. Our analysis sheds light on the determinants of standard-setting institutions and their effects on corporate governance and lobbying efforts.
Abstract: In addition to being a function of traditional fundamentals such as cash-flow persistence and the discount rate, the equilibrium association between a security price and a value-relevant statistic can simply be a function of what rational investors believe the association will be. We refer to this phenomenon as beliefs-driven price association (BPA). By explicitly considering the phenomenon of BPA, we show that the price response to information releases can vary over time even if the risk-free interest rate and investor preferences are static and the earnings/cash flow generating process is stable. This observation suggests, for example, that price-to-earnings associations and price volatility can vary over time even if a stable pattern of economic fundamentals suggests otherwise. The possibility of BPA suggests that measures of the cost of capital, information content, and growth prospects inferred from observed market prices will be confounded. While we do not predict when periods of BPA will arise, we provide empirically testable predictions about how prices should behave during periods of BPA. In particular, we predict that, during sufficiently long periods of high (positive or negative) BPA, price volatility, price levels, and expected returns will be higher than would be implied by a fundamental valuation framework. Finally, while BPA in the pricing of one security does not cause BPA in the pricing of other securities, the price levels of those other securities will be affected if the securities with BPA are sufficiently large relative to the market as a whole.
Abstract: This paper studies the propensity of firms to commit to disclose information that is subsequently biased, in the presence of other firms also issuing potentially biased information. An important aspect of such an analysis is the fact that firms can choose whether to disclose or withhold information. We show that allowing the number of disclosed reports to be endogenous introduces a countervailing force to some of the empirical predictions from the prior literature. For example, we find that as more firms issue reports or as the correlation across firms’ cash flows increases, the firm biases its report less. However, when we treat firms’ disclosure choices as endogenous, we show that the number of firms that commit to disclose decreases as the correlation across these cash flows increases, and this, in turn, offsets the direct effect of the correlation on bias.
The first part of the course presents alternative methods of preparing managerial accounting information, and the remainder of the course examines how these methods are used by companies. Managerial accounting is a company's internal language, and is used for decision-making, production management, product design and pricing and for motivating and evaluating employees. Unless you understand managerial accounting, you cannot have a thorough understanding of a company's internal operations. What you learn in this course will help you understand the operations of your future employer (and enable you to be more successful at your job), and help you understand other companies you encounter in your role as competitor, consultant, or investor.
This is theory course covering topics in agency theory, disclosure theory, and incentive design.