A Review of the Role of Financial Reporting in the Global Financial Crisis


  • Matt Pinnuck

Matt Pinnuck, Department of Accounting, University of Melbourne. Email: mpinnuck@unimelb.edu.au


The aim of this article is to review the recent literature that examines the performance of financial reporting in the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). In analysing the GFC a large number of commentators have attributed blame to financial reporting, in particular to the use of fair values (FVs) in reporting financial instruments in bank balance sheets. Based on a review of the emerging evidence, the main conclusions are that: (i) there is no empirical evidence that fair-value accounting (FVA) during the GFC added to the severity of the crisis; (ii) further research is required to determine whether FVA in the years immediately preceding the crisis exacerbated the GFC because of the possibility that some of the FV gains reported may have been illusory; (iii) the existing literature has largely ignored the role of financial reports in the determination of a firm's cost of capital, although it is through this avenue that, in a crisis, financial reporting could play its most significant role; and (iv) the bulk of the commentary associated with financial reporting and the GFC has revolved around the valuation objective of financial reporting, even though financial reports also have a stewardship objective. Failure of financial reporting to satisfy this objective in the years preceding the GFC could have exacerbated the crisis. More consideration needs to be given to this latter issue to enable a complete assessment of the role of financial reporting in the GFC.