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Financial statements and reality: do troubled banks tell all?



Each quarter, banks file a call report, or Report of Condition and Income, containing hundreds of accounting items pertaining to their financial condition. This article analyzes call report revisions to assess the extent to which regulatory exams promote accurate data. The findings indicate banks with new or emerging difficulties often significantly underreport these problems, intentionally or not. In addition, the findings point to a significant role for exams in uncovering financial problems and ensuring bank accounting statements reflect them. To the extent the loan-loss accounting in call reports is widely used to assess loan quality, these results support the view that exams are important in the public dissemination of accurate information on banks' financial condition.

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