We examine the effect on asset mispricing of different accounting methods in an experimental asset market characterized by bubbles and crashes. In particular, we study three alternative asset value reporting treatments: (1) Fair Value (also known as Mark-to-Market – M2M), (2) Historical Cost (HC) and (3) Marked to Fundamental Value (M2F). In addition, each of these treatments is replicated in two different financial leverage conditions. In the first condition (No Loan) traders must purchase assets from their available cash balances without the option of borrowing. In the second condition, (Loan), traders are given the option of taking out loans based on their balance sheet to finance asset purchases. In the No Loan condition, we find that reporting accounting values alone to subjects in a balance sheet format does not have a significant effect on mispricing for any of our alternative accounting method treatments. In the Loan conditions, however, the M2F and M2M accounting methods exacerbate asset mispricing, yet the two differ in leverage dynamics. M2F markets are completely immune to defaults, while M2M markets experience the most frequent as well as most severe defaults.
Lin, S., Pfeiffer, G., & Porter, D. (2014). Accounting standards and financial market stability: An experimental examination. ESI Working Paper 14-03. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.chapman.edu/esi_working_papers/23