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earnings smoothing has also been associated with conservatism why 614263

Income management and conservatism

Whitney Tilson, a noted analyst, warns investors in an article in The Motley Fool that more than any other type of company, financial companies have immense discretion regarding what earnings to report. The key is the rate of loan losses that they expect to experience, which must be estimated at the end of every period. By changing this estimate, which in turn changes one of the largest expenses on their income statement, financial companies can manage net income. Tilson specifically cites Farmer Mac, the agency created by the federal government to provide funds in the agricultural lending market, which many analysts believe smooths its earnings across time by simply changing its estimate on loss rates.


a. What does it mean to “smooth earnings across time”? How might a financial company practice this strategy, and why might it engage in this activity?

b. Earnings smoothing has also been associated with conservatism. Why?

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