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Competing for Capital: Auditing and Credibility in Financial Reporting

Raphael Boleslavsky, Bruce I. Carlin, Christopher Cotton

NBER Working Paper No. 23273
Issued in March 2017
NBER Program(s):Corporate Finance

When self-interested agents compete for scarce resources, they often exaggerate the promise of their activities. As such, principals must consider both the quality of each opportunity and each agent’s credibility. We show that principals are better off with less transparency because they gain access to better investments. This is due to a complementarity between the agents’ effort provision and their ability to exaggerate. As such, it is suboptimal for principals to

prevent misreporting, even if doing so is costless. This helps explain why exaggeration is ubiquitous during allocation decisions: money management, analyst coverage, private equity fundraising, and venture capital investments.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23273

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