Robert E. Verrecchia

Robert E. Verrecchia
  • Elizabeth F. Putzel Professor
  • Professor Emeritus of Accounting

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    1322 Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall
    3620 Locust Walk
    Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365

Research Interests: discretionary disclosure, financial accounting, information economics

Links: CV

Overview

Education: Ph.D., Graduate School of Business, Stanford University (1976); M.S., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1972); Sc.B., Brown University (1970).

Some recent contributions to the literature

“Information Precision, Information Asymmetry, and the Cost of Capital,” with Richard A. Lambert and Christian Leuz, Review of Finance 16, 2012, 1-29.  Awarded the 2012 Spaengler IQAM Best Paper Prize by the Review of Finance.

“When Does Information Asymmetry Affect the Cost of Capital?,” with Christopher S. Armstrong, John E. Core, and Daniel J. Taylor, Journal of Accounting Research 49, 2011, 1-40.

“Accounting Information, Disclosure, and the Cost of Capital,” with Richard A. Lambert and Christian Leuz, Journal of Accounting Research 45, 2007, 385-420.  Awarded a 2011 “Citation of Excellence” by the Emerald Management Reviews Editorial Judging Panel.

Continue Reading

Research

“Information Precision, Information Asymmetry, and the Cost of Capital,” with Richard A. Lambert and Christian Leuz, Review of Finance 16, 2012, 1-29.  Awarded the 2012 Spaengler IQAM Best Paper Prize by the Review of Finance.

“Accounting Information, Disclosure, and the Cost of Capital,” with Richard A. Lambert and Christian Leuz, Journal of Accounting Research 45, 2007, 385-420.  Awarded a 2011 “Citation of Excellence” by the Emerald Management Reviews Editorial Judging Panel.

“Disclosure Bias,” with Paul E. Fischer, Journal of Accounting and Economics 38, 2004, 223-250.

“Essays on Disclosure,” Journal of Accounting and Economics 32, 2001, 97-180.

“Reporting Bias,” with Paul E. Fischer, The Accounting Review 75, 2000, 229-245.

“Pre-Announcement and Event-Period Private Information,” with Oliver Kim, Journal of Accounting and Economics 24, 1997, 395-419.

“Market Liquidity and Volume around Earnings Announcements,” with Oliver Kim, Journal of Accounting and Economics 17, 1994, 41-67.

“Market Reaction to Anticipated Announcements,” with Oliver Kim, Journal of Financial Economics 30, 1991, 273-309. A Journal of Financial Economics All Star Paper.

“Disclosure, Liquidity and the Cost of Capital,” with Douglas W. Diamond, Journal of Finance 46, 1991, 1325-1359.

“Constraints on Short-Selling and Asset Price Adjustment to Private Information,” with Douglas W. Diamond, Journal of Financial Economics l8, 1987, 277-311.

“Discretionary Disclosure,” Journal of Accounting and Economics 5, 1983, 179-194.

“Information Acquisition in a Noisy Rational Expectations Economy,” Econometrica 50, 1982, 1415-1430.

“Information Aggregation in a Noisy Rational Expectations Economy,” with Douglas W. Diamond, Journal of Financial Economics 9, 1981, 221-235.  A Journal of Financial Economics All Star Paper.

 

 

  • Jung Min Kim, Daniel Taylor, Robert E. Verrecchia (2021), Voluntary Disclosure when Private Information and Disclosure Costs are Jointly Determined (Review of Accounting Studies),.

    Abstract: Classical models of voluntary disclosure feature two economic forces: the existence of an adverse selection problem (e.g., a manager possesses some private information) and the cost of ameliorating the problem (e.g., costs associated with disclosure). Traditionally these forces are modelled independently. In this paper, we use a simple model to motivate empirical predictions in a setting where these forces are jointly determined––where greater adverse selection entails greater costs of disclosure. We show that joint determination of these forces generates a pronounced non-linearity in the probability of voluntary disclosure. We find that this non-linearity is empirically descriptive of multiple measures of voluntary disclosure in two distinct empirical settings that are commonly thought to feature both private information and proprietary costs: capital investments and sales to major customers.

  • Jeremy Michels, Stephen Glaeser, Robert E. Verrecchia (2020), Discretionary Disclosure and Manager Horizon: Evidence from Patenting, Review of Accounting Studies, 25, pp. 597-635. 10.1007/s11142-019-09520-0

    Abstract: We examine the relation between manager horizon and discretionary disclosure, using patenting as a measure of disclosure. Patenting reflects, in part, a manager’s decision to disclose the successful outcome of research and development (R&D). When a firm invests in R&D but does not patent, investors are unsure whether this reflects a failed R&D project or the manager choosing not to patent. We suggest that investors’ beliefs about a manager’s horizon—whether the manager seeks to maximize short-term stock price or long-term profits—moderates their reactions. When investors believe a manager’s horizon is short, they expect the manager to disclose successful outcomes and therefore discount nondisclosure more. We predict that managers will patent more per dollar of R&D spending when their horizons are short and that investors will discount the value of nondisclosing firms more when they believe the manager’s horizon is short. We find evidence consistent with these predictions.

  • Mirko S. Heinle, Kevin Smith, Robert E. Verrecchia (2018), Risk-Factor Disclosure and Asset Prices, The Accounting Review, 93 (2), pp. 191-208.

    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.

  • Wayne Guay and Robert E. Verrecchia (Working), Conservative Disclosure.

  • Stephanie Sikes and Robert E. Verrecchia (Under Revision), Aggregate Corporate Tax Avoidance and Cost of Capital.

    Abstract: We identify a pecuniary externality arising from corporate tax avoidance. As firms engage in more avoidance, the cost of capital increases for all firms. The intuition is that firms share risk with the government via taxation. The lower the tax rate applied to a firm’s earnings, the more risk is borne by its shareholders. As firms avoid more taxes in the aggregate, the variance of the market’s after-tax cash flow increases. Consequently, covariance risk, and thereby the cost of capital, increases for all firms. Consistent with our prediction, we find that firms’ implied cost of capital is positively related to aggregate corporate tax avoidance. This result holds for tax-avoiding and non-tax-avoiding firms, and is stronger for firms whose cash flow covaries more with the market cash flow. U.S. multinationals’ tax avoidance drives the pecuniary externality, consistent with only strategies that reduce a firm’s marginal tax rate on income reducing risk-sharing.

  • Christopher Armstrong, Daniel Taylor, Robert E. Verrecchia (2016), Asymmetric Reporting, Journal of Financial Reporting, 1 (1), pp. 15-32.

    Abstract: We extend the CAPM to a setting where a firm reports earnings prior to selling shares to investors. We show that an entrepreneur, as representative of a firm's initial owners, will choose to report earnings that asymmetrically reflect future cash flow. In modeling the entrepreneur's reporting choice, we deliberately abstract away from the stewardship role of accounting. In our model, the sole purpose of reported earnings is to facilitate valuation by the firm's equity investors. Nevertheless, we show that a firm's earnings will reflect future cash flow to a greater (lesser) extent in bad states (good states) when that cash flow is anticipated to be low (high). Importantly, we also show that the asymmetry in reporting generates asymmetry in the firm's systematic risk. When a firm's earnings reflect future cash flow to a greater extent in bad states, the firm's covariance with the market portfolio will be lower in bad states.

  • Paul Fischer, Mirko S. Heinle, Robert E. Verrecchia (2016), Beliefs-driven price association, Journal of Accounting and Economics, 61 (2-3), pp. 563-583.

    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.

  • Mirko S. Heinle and Robert E. Verrecchia (2016), Bias and the Commitment to Disclosure, Management Science, 62 (10), pp. 2859-2870.

    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.

  • Stephanie Sikes and Robert E. Verrecchia (2015), Dividend Tax Capitalization and Liquidity, Review of Accounting Studies, 20 (4), pp. 1334-1372.

    Abstract: We provide a new explanation for cross-sectional variation in dividend tax capitalization. Our analysis is twofold. First, we conduct a theoretical analysis that shows that liquidity (illiquidity) mitigates (magnifies) the positive effect of dividend taxes on expected rates of return documented in prior literature. Second, we conduct an empirical analysis centered around the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief and Reconciliation Act of 2003, which reduced the difference between the maximum statutory dividend and capital gains tax rates, and find results consistent with our theory. We also provide results suggesting that institutional ownership’s mitigating effect on dividend tax capitalization documented in prior studies is attributable to stocks with greater institutional ownership being more liquid and not to the “marginal investor” being insensitive to dividend taxes.

  • Karthik Balakrishnan, Rahul Vashishtha, Robert E. Verrecchia (Under Review), Aggregate Competition, Information Asymmetry and Cost of Capital: Evidence from Equity Market Liberalization.

Teaching

Current Courses

  • ACCT212 - Fin Measurement & Disclo

    This course builds on the knowledge you obtained in your introductory financial accounting course. This is an intermediate level course on financial reporting which covers more complicated transactions than those found in ACCT 101. We will cover major valuation and financial reporting topics on all three major sections of the balance sheet-assets, liabilities, and equity-along with their consequences for net income and cash flows. Case studies and illustrative examples from the financial press will be used to increase your familiarity with actual firms' financial statements and to emphasize the effect of financial accounting rules on the information presented in financial statements. After completing this course, you will have obtained many of the tools necessary to both prepare and analyze financial statements and accounting information provided by firms. You will acquire an understanding of both the "how" of accounting procedures and the underlying reasons "why" these practices are adopted. These skills are essential for pursuing a broad range of professions in accounting and finance.

    ACCT212001 ( Syllabus )

  • ACCT743 - Acct For Complx Fin Stru

    This class studies how complex financial structures account for their activities. Primary emphasis is on the application of purchase accounting for mergers and acquisitions, the equity method for investments, and preparing and interpreting consolidated financial statements. Other topics covered include translations and remeasurements for nondomestic investments, and earnings per share calculations for complex financial structures. Tax considerations and acquisition strategies are of only peripheral interest in this class, and students who are concerned primarily with those topics are advised to seek a different elective.

    ACCT743001 ( Syllabus )

Past Courses

  • ACCT212 - FIN MEASUREMENT & DISCLO

    This course builds on the knowledge you obtained in your introductory financial accounting course. This is an intermediate level course on financial reporting which covers more complicated transactions than those found in ACCT 101. We will cover major valuation and financial reporting topics on all three major sections of the balance sheet-assets, liabilities, and equity-along with their consequences for net income and cash flows. Case studies and illustrative examples from the financial press will be used to increase your familiarity with actual firms' financial statements and to emphasize the effect of financial accounting rules on the information presented in financial statements. After completing this course, you will have obtained many of the tools necessary to both prepare and analyze financial statements and accounting information provided by firms. You will acquire an understanding of both the "how" of accounting procedures and the underlying reasons "why" these practices are adopted. These skills are essential for pursuing a broad range of professions in accounting and finance.

  • ACCT243 - ACCT FOR COMPLX FIN STRU

    Since ACCT 243 will not be cross listed with ACCT 743 in the Fall 2021 semester, students interested in ACCT 243 will need to be permitted into ACCT 743. All prerequisites need to be completed in order to receive a permit. Please email acct-staff@wharton.upenn. Undergraduate students will be notified in August regarding a permit. Also this class will follow the MBA calendar. The objective of this course is to discuss and understand the accounting that underlies merger, acquisition, and investment activities among firms that result in complex financial structures. Key topics include the purchase accounting method for acquisitions, the equity method for investments, the preparation and interpretation of consolidated financial statements, tax implications of mergers and acquisitions, earnings-per-share considerations, the accounting implications of intercompany transactions and non-domestic investments, etc.

  • ACCT399 - INDEPENDENT STUDY

    Intensive reading and study with some research under the direction of a faculty member. Approval from one of the departmental advisers must be obtained before registration. Also a 3.4 average in major related subjects required.

  • ACCT743 - ACCT FOR COMPLX FIN STRU

    This class studies how complex financial structures account for their activities. Primary emphasis is on the application of purchase accounting for mergers and acquisitions, the equity method for investments, and preparing and interpreting consolidated financial statements. Other topics covered include translations and remeasurements for nondomestic investments, and earnings per share calculations for complex financial structures. Tax considerations and acquisition strategies are of only peripheral interest in this class, and students who are concerned primarily with those topics are advised to seek a different elective.

Awards and Honors

  • Lifetime achievement award for contributions to the financial reporting literature from the Financial Accounting and Reporting Section (FARS) of the American Accounting Association, 2015

In the News

Knowledge @ Wharton

Activity

In the News

You Say IASB, I Say FASB, You Say…

In the aftermath of the financial scandals at companies such as Enron, Worldcom and Tyco International, reconciling U.S. accounting and auditing standards with those used in Europe and other parts of the world has become more important than ever. Is real change finally underway in getting accountants to speak the same language? A Wharton conference on Oct. 18, titled “New Rules for American Business? Post-Scandal Directions for Policy and Governance,” plans to discuss that and other questions.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 9/25/2002
All News