The Interactions Between Real Earnings Management And Short Selling Activity
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This study builds on two streams of literature that recently draw the attention of researchers: real earnings management (REM) and short selling. Graham et al. (2005) reports that managers choose REM over accounting methods to manage earnings. The survey results suggest that REM is likely to be more prevalent than accrual-based earnings management, and should deserve more attention from academic research. Short selling has become a big concern to researchers due to the recent financial crisis and the combat against naked short sales. I empirically test how short sellers trade on firms' REM information, and whether short selling activity can serve as an external monitoring mechanism on REM. Since short selling activity and REM are jointly determined, I explore the research question on the interactions between REM and short selling activity via a simultaneous equation system. I further test whether the interactions between REM and short selling activity are affected by the recent short selling regulation change. The results show strong interactions between REM and short selling activity both before and after the recent SEC short selling regulation change. Short sellers use accounting information to trade. Particularly, they avoid shorting stocks with high levels of REM, which suggests that firms use costly REM to signal their good future performance. On the other hand, heavily shorted firms cannot afford to do REM, which supports the argument that short selling has an external disciplinary role over firms' REM behavior. The results hold if I use OLS or simultaneous equations. This study enriches the literature about how short sellers trade on firms' earnings management information and extends the disciplinary role of short selling over firms' REM behavior.