Do Trading Derivatives Classification Affect Bank Holding Company’s Earnings Volatility And Firm Value?

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Carolyn M. Callahan
Stephanie Hairston


Bank Holding Company, Derivatives, Speculation, Cash Flow Volatility, Earnings Volatility, Firm Value


This study examines the differential impact of bank holding companies (BHCs) that consistently report trading gains (successful speculators) and those that consistently report no gain or trading losses (unsuccessful speculators) on earnings volatility and firm value. Under Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) 815 (previously SFAS 133- Accounting for Derivative Instruments and Hedging Activities), all gains/losses related to trading derivatives are recognized in current earnings; whereas, gains/losses on hedging derivatives are netted with changes in the fair value of the underlying asset/liability with only the ineffective portion of the hedge being reported in current earnings. Given differential accounting recognition and underlying risk factors, we expect and find that current period trading gains/losses lead to greater earnings volatility; however, the relationship becomes insignificant when BHCs consistently report trading gains (successful speculators) or no gains and trading losses (unsuccessful speculation). Further we find that successful speculation is significantly negatively associated with firm value, which implies that market participants perceive trading positions held by BHCs as high-risk investments regardless of the outcome of the trading exposure. The findings of this study should be useful to business professionals, bank regulators, and accounting standard setters in determining the economic impact of current accounting standards on bank performance, investors in evaluating the costs and benefits of bank’s derivative risk management policies, and accounting academics in evaluating the impact of current accounting regulation on bank derivative use.


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