Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Publications Database

Financial instruments in non-financial firms: what do we know?

Volume: 42
Number: 3
Pages: 267 - 289
Month: August
ISSN-Print: 0001-4788
Link External Source: Online Version
Year: 2012
Keywords: Financial instruments acccounting; Fair value measurement; IAS 39; IFRS 7; Non-financial firms
Abstract: Accounting for financial instruments is one of the most controversial standard setting issues. Attempts by standard setters to expand the scope of fair value measurement provoked fierce opposition from preparers, in particular from the financial industry but also, albeit less frequently and less scathingly, from non-financial firms. Academic research could help to bring the discussion onto a more objective level. Most of the existing research focuses on the financial industry and uses US disclosure data from the 1990s. More recent papers use recognition and measurement data from IFRS financial statements, again primarily from the financial industry. This paper provides novel evidence on the relevance of financial instruments for non-financial firms of the STOXX Europe 600 Index. The results in particular refute the myths that fair value measurement of financial instruments is pervasive and that many fair value measurements are of the problematic ‘level 3’ quality. The empirical evidence forms the background for a survey of the small body of existing research on the effects of accounting standards relating to financial instruments on non-financial firms. This survey covers research on the effects on risk management, on the volatility of cash flows and earnings, on earnings management and on the effects on user decisions. Both in the empirical sections and in the survey sections, I identify a number of areas for further research to overcome the poor current state of knowledge.