تشخیص بحران مالی از طریق مدل های حسابداری
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Accounting, Organizations and Society, Volume 35, Issue 7, October 2010, Pages 676–688
This paper presents evidence that accounting (or flow-of-funds) macroeconomic models helped anticipate the credit crisis and economic recession. Equilibrium models ubiquitous in mainstream policy and research did not. This study traces the intellectual pedigrees of the accounting approach as an alternative to neo-classical economics, and the post-war rise and decline of flow-of-funds models in policy use. It includes contemporary case studies of both types of models, and considers why the accounting approach has remained outside mainstream economics. It provides constructive recommendations on revising methods of financial stability assessment and advocates an ‘accounting of economics’.
On 9 December 2008 Glenn Stevens, Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia commented on the “international financial turmoil through which we have lived over the past almost year and a half, and the intensity of the events since mid September this year”. He went on to assert: “I do not know anyone who predicted this course of events. This should give us cause to reflect on how hard a job it is to make genuinely useful forecasts. What we have seen is truly a ‘tail’ outcome – the kind of outcome that the routine forecasting process never predicts. But it has occurred, it has implications, and so we must reflect on it” (RBA, 2008). This idea that ‘no one saw this coming’ has been a common view from the very beginning of the credit crisis. And yet it would be premature to ask “Why did nobody notice?”, as Queen Elizabeth II did in November 2008 (Pierce, 2008). It is not difficult to find predictions of a credit crisis and recession in the years leading up to it – not only by pundits, but by serious analysts from the world of academia, policy institutes, think tanks and finance. The point of this paper is that there is something to be learned from this observation: “we must reflect on it” in the words of Governor Stevens. The credit crisis and ensuing recession may be viewed as a ‘natural experiment’ in the validity of economic models. Those models that failed to foresee something this momentous may need changing in one way or another. And the change is likely to come from those models (if they exist) which did lead their users to anticipate instability. There is an immediate link between accounting and the ability of some economists to predict the crisis. Previewing the results, ‘accounting’ (or flow-of-funds) models of the economy turn out to be the shared mindset of a large subset of those analysts who worried about a credit-cum-debt crisis followed by recession, before the policy and academic establishment did. They are ‘accounting’ models in the sense that they represent households’, firms’ and governments’ balance sheets and their interrelations, and that accounting identities play a major role in the model structure and outcomes. If society’s wealth and debt levels reflected in balance sheets are among the determinants of its financial stability and of the sustainability of its growth, then such models are likely to timely signal threats of instability. This does not imply that balance sheet data are more accurate or objective than other data, or that accounting professionals are inherently superior in analytical skills or work ethic than macroeconomic model builders. But it does mean that models that exclude balance sheets – such as the general equilibrium models widely used in academic and Central Bank analyses – are prone to ‘Type II errors’ of false negatives, rejecting the possibility of crisis when in reality it is just months ahead. With a few exceptions, this point seems to have been overlooked to date. When Krugman (2009) prominently asked ‘How did economists get it so wrong’? he gave a number of reasons, but did not discuss – other than in a passing mention – those economists who did not get it wrong (Galbraith, 2009). In the accountants and auditors community, the dominant response in the wake of the credit crisis has been to re-examine accounting regulations such as ‘fair-value’ accounting ( Boyer, 2007 and Laux and Leuz, in press), mark-to-market accounting, lax auditing practices, and the like; or to ask how accounting models can reflect what has happened (Roberts and Jones, in press). It is important to stress from the outset that the present paper aims to make an entirely different point. It is a response to the call by Arnold (2009) in this Journal to examine “our failure to understand … the macroeconomic and political environment in which accounting operates” (also, Hopwood 2009). One key to understanding policy makers’ environment is the neglect of balance sheet effects in policy advice. This paper therefore draws attention to the ‘accounting approach’ within economic analysis underpinning flow-of-funds models, where balance sheets effects are central. It also attempts to explain the neglect of the ‘accounting approach’ by policy makers.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This paper made the point that an ‘accounting approach’ to understanding the macro economy is fruitful. The argument was developed with reference to the discrepancy between official assessments and reality before and during the 2007–2008 credit crisis and ensuing recession. This study documented the sense of surprise at the credit crisis among academics and policymakers, giving rise to the view that ‘no one saw this coming’. It also reports analyses by some of those professional and academic analysts who did ‘see it coming’, and who issued public predictions of financial instability leading to recession. The paper identifies common elements in their analyses and then focuses on a subset of these, sharing the ‘accounting approach’ to macroeconomic analysis. The paper traces the theoretical pedigree of the accounting approach within Post-Keynesian economics and explains its relative neglect within the economics profession. It explores the structure of accounting (or flow-of-funds) models, contrasting it to DSGE models used in central banks and CGE models such as the WUMM equilibrium model of the US economy and the model in use by the OECD. In conclusion of this paper, two reflections seem apt. The upshot of this paper is not to advocate a wholesale replacement of equilibrium models. In introducing accounting concepts into conventional models (as the OECD is doing), the challenge may well be to explore how far model synergies and incompatibilities reach, and what type of model is best fit for which purpose. In the context of break points in economic development such as the credit crisis, it is “better to be roughly right than precisely wrong’, as Keynes famously wrote. In situations where the FIRE sector plays a crucial role, equilibrium models such as the WUMM provide detailed forecasts on e.g. labour force participation, unit costs, hourly compensation and civilian employment, but fail to anticipate momentous change due to debt growth. Conversely, the accounting models reviewed here include less detail on the real sector but are better at identifying finance-driven turning points. Such exploration of the synergies and proper domains of accounting and equilibrium models, however, would require an open-minded consideration of the merits of accounting models of the economy. This still appears to sit uneasily with the continued dominance in policy making and academia (including the field of accounting) of neo-classical economics. Hopwood (2009) perceives economics as “a subject … that invest quite heavily in the policing of its intellectual boundaries” and where “much of the diversity [of debates] has been banished”. Arnold (2009) likewise self-criticizes the accounting field by asserting that “our dominant theories provided an insufficient bases for understanding the transformations that were occurring in the international political economy over the past quarter century, or for analysing the relationship between macro level changes, such as the rise to power of the financial sector”. In parallel to the promotion by some of an ‘economics of accounting’ to improve analysis in management accounting (Christensen and Feltham, 2007 and Jordan, 1989), in the field of macroeconomic and macrofinancial stability assessment and forecasting there appears to be scope for an ‘accounting of economics’.