Relationship among economic crisis, stock market crashes and accounting scandals

Pilar Lloret Millan, Núria Arimany Serrat


Purpose: This work investigates the relationships between stock exchange crashes and accounting scandals.

Design/methodology/approach: We analyze the main accounting scandals and stock exchange crashes that occurred between 1980 and 2020.

Findings: First of all, it was verified that a stock market crash occurred in the years in which most of the accounting scandals took place (or within the next three years). This evidence is consistent with much of the previous literature. Second, an average of 5.4 years has been estimated as the period of time that elapses between the time a company starts engaging in accounting deception and the moment when it is discovered and the scandal breaks out. Third, it has been found that accounting deception is more likely to occur in years with stock market crashes and in the years immediately following. The literature review revealed no evidence supporting the two latter hypotheses. 

Research limitations/implications: This exploratory work has several limitations. First of all, only scandals that have been reported on websites in Spanish and English have been analyzed. Therefore, the sample may be biased, giving more weight to companies from Anglo-Saxon and Spanish-speaking countries. Second, the sample was made up of a small number of companies (53), which are those that have met the search criteria used.

Practical implications: The findings of this work are relevant today, since a major stock exchange crash has occurred as a result of the coronavirus. Therefore, if the pattern of the most recent decades is repeated, it would be expected that more accounting scandals will come to light in the coming years.

Social implications: The conclusions obtained are of great relevance for the different users of the financial information from companies, and also for auditors, consultants and supervisory bodies, since due to the stock exchange crash triggered by COVID-19, they will need to exercise extreme caution in the coming years in relation to financial information.

Originality/value: The work provides evidence on the relationship between stock market crashes and accounting scandals, which is a highly relevant topic. The literature review revealed no study using the same methodology or a similar sample of companies.


Accounting deception, accounting manipulation, accounting scandal, economic crisis, stock exchange crash

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Licencia de Creative Commons 

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Intangible Capital, 2004-2023

Online ISSN: 1697-9818; Print ISSN: 2014-3214; DL: B-33375-2004

Publisher: OmniaScience