2007-2008 Financial Crisis Essay

The 2007-2008 Financial Crisis

According to Saylor Academy (2012), a financial crisis happens when many financial markets function inefficiently or stop functioning completely; when one or few of the financial markets stop functioning the crisis that result is nonsystematic Saylor Academy (2012). The 2007 financial crisis started with subprime mortgages and in 2008 it turned severe systematic after major financial institutions failed.  The 2007-2008 Financial Crisis was a combination of many things, including: Monetary policy easing, banks taking excessive risks, consumers borrowing more than they could afford, the eventual US Housing Market Crash, stocks and poor risk pricing, the federal budget deficit, excessive leveraging by banks, predator lending, poor underwriting practices and the Federal Budget Deficit. This paper explores how the 2007-2008 Financial Crisis financial happened, what markets were impacted and how it was dealt with.

Monetary policy easing – Deregulating policies that were placed in placed to repeat historic failures is like playing Jenga, eventually everything will fall. According to (Market Oracle Ltd, 2009), the first block of deregulation happened in 1980 with the Depository Institutions and Monetary Control Act of 1980 – this was the first thing the banking system was being let a bit loose after the regulations that were put into place after the Great Depression.

The act accomplished the following: required less reserved from the banks, it created a committee to get rid of federal interest rate caps, increased insurance of Federal deposits, allowed banks to get credit advances from the Federal Reserve Discount Window and finally, it overstepped over state laws that restricted lenders by putting a ceiling on the interest rates they could charge from mortgage loans.

The second piece of monetary easing happened when the government and their great wisdom or greed decided to pick apart key pieces of the Banking Act of 1933 (Glass-Steagall Act of 1933). The act was in place to prevent banks from gambling with people’s savings, it separated commercial banks from investment banks – this was very important because investment banks could not take huge risks with people’s money.

Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act was the drop that spilled the cup or the final straw that broke the camel’s back. This law, removed the last protective barrier that Glass-Steagall Act provided and allowed banks to do whatever they wanted; for example, Travelers investment bank was able to buy Citibank…Remember the law wanted to keep investment banks from using people savings? Well, this last act allowed investment banks to play with other people’s money (Market Oracle Ltd, 2009). Monetary policy easing removed all roadblocks that annoyed banks, but kept people’s savings intact and save; additionally, it gave birth to Subprime lending which later would be a major player in the Housing Market crash.

Banks taking excessive risks: According to (The Economist, 2013) Senator Phil Gramm once was quoted as saying “I look at subprime lending and I see the American Dream in action”. Due to the economy doing so well and low inflation, banks and investors were willing to take more risks in order to get a piece of the action. Banks were being irresponsible with mortgage lending and lower standards with subprime lending, borrowers who should not have gotten loans were able to get into houses they could not afford.

In order for banks to lessen or mitigate the risks, they played the numbers games, they gathered a many high-risk loan and put them together in groups (pooling), depending on the probability of defaults – in theory, this would decrease the risk because what were the probabilities that all borrowers in that pool could default on their loans? (The Economist, 2013)

Consumers borrowing more than they could afford – This comes back to subprime mortgages and just the timing of what was happening with the economy and the housing market. According to (John V. Duca, 2013) – traditionally, borrowers have to have good credit, good income and good debt to income ration in order to be the proud owners of a house with a white picket fence – those borrowers who did to meet the requirements above, would historically not qualify for any loans to buy a house. The ability of more people qualifying for mortgages they could not afford, lead to an increase in the housing market because the economy was experiencing more first-time home buyers.

The increase in demand created an increase in housing prices and it required more money to be borrowed by the people who were already stretched thin on the amount of money they were borrowing (John V. Duca, 2013). Up to this point, banks and consumers were lending and borrowing money banking on best case scenario and not planning for the worst. Added to the situation was the fact that the government had mandated Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to increase home ownership, so both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had purchased lots of subprime mortgages (John V. Duca, 2013).

Secured Lending - 2007-2008 Financial Crisis
Secured Lending – 2007-2008 Financial Crisis

US Housing Market Crash – In the famous quote from Isaac Newton “What goes up must come down”.  Once housing market reached its plateau, mortgage financing and home selling became less attractive and that is when they began to drop in price, lenders and investors started losing money. The first casualty of subprime mortgages happened in April 2007, New Century Financial Corps filed for bankruptcy – after that, all the pooling that was done by experts to mitigate default risk was downgraded to high risk and many small subprime lenders went out of business.  Lenders stopped issuing loans, specially the high interest rate ones (subprime) – this resulted in less people getting loans after that and as a result, less houses being purchased by consumers.

Low demand for houses led to a drop-in price, the famous law of supply and demand had kicked in. Prices dropped so much that borrowers who were trying to sell them could not send them at the price they owed in their loans. Remember that government told Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to increase home ownership? Well, as a result, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac suffer major losses an all subprime mortgages they had purchased and insured (John V. Duca, 2013). The housing market was flooded by banks selling their foreclosed/repossessed homes, people trying to sell their houses because they get foreclosed, people doing short-sales and in addition the market was getting the normal number of houses being sold the usual sellers (new construction, people moving, etc.).

US House Prices - 2007-2008 Financial Crisis
US House Prices – 2007-2008 Financial Crisis

Stocks and poor risk pricing – Prior to the economic crisis, investors were unable to get the exact value of risk they would be bearing when taking up stocks or financial assets from the traders. Risk pricing or the cost of risk is implied in the rate of interest charged and the investors, with poor risk profile of certain assets in the market, would not know the value of the risk assumed when buying stocks or the value of risk exchanged when selling stocks (Amadeo, 2010; Williams, 2010). The market participants were thus inaccurate in their risk analysis due to the complex financial system and innovations among other factors such as ignorance and deceit from the traders themselves.

JP Morgan is quoted as selling and quoting the risk price of CDOs at a price way lower than the market price due to lacking accuracy or information as is contrasted to stable prices in a perfect market, where market information is publicly available, as per the Basel accords. In a similar risk pricing error and crisis, the AIG had to be taken over by the American government, settling about 180 billion US dollars from the tax payers’ money because AIG had taken premium guarantees to pay several CDS obligations to many lenders of small and global parties, whose risk profile was then uncertain to the lender and insurer and plunged the institution into near bankruptcy (Amadeo, 2010).

There was then no clear model of ascertaining the level of risk assumed by a guarantor or a borrower given the dynamic and complex financial innovations of the time and the slowly growing financial academia, practice and experience within a span of two years, that is, between 2007 and 2008 (Jickling, 2009).

The Role of The Federal Reserve in the 2007-2008 Financial Crisis

The Federal Reserve and liquidity – The Federal Reserve is the lender of last result to banks and thus, is the only last savior in a financial crisis. However, the reserve faced inadequate cash to lend to banks with the rapid mortgage and loan processing witnessed alongside booming borrowing and house financing by banks and financial institutions. Commercial banks couldn’t afford adequate liquidity to finance their obligations and the large sizes of mortgages they were buying.

In the same time, the price of commodities and especially minerals such as oil and copper were growing at an unsustainable rate, with most of the minerals being imported from outside. The rise would give the impression to traders that it was an opportunity to invest in the appreciating metals and thus, there was a general cash outflow from the US in exchange for metals and gems, which saw increased trading lead to a decline in the prices thereof and a general loss of cash from the American economy to oil producing and mining countries such as the middle east nations. The cash inflow into the US was less than the cash outflow and commercial  banks would earn less than they were paying as cost of leveraging. This Federal Reserve with less inject into the economy to facilitate liquidity among the commercial banks (Jickling, 2009).

Excessive leveraging by banks – Before the 2007-2008 financial crisis struck the market, banks and other institutions in the mortgage and finance sector had used massive leveraging, that is, using credits and other derivatives to acquire assets. Leveraging shifts the risk of lending to the leveraging institution, thus removes the risk adverseness of a financial institution. They trade with appetite for risky investments which they perceive are most productive. The state of affairs with the highly leveraged financial institutions, therefore, led to risky deals which ultimately led to high rates of defaulting. Also, a major contributor to the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

The high level of leveraging, also, exposed the banks to massive risk impact should a financial downturn result and when it did with the bursting housing prices balloon, the financial institutions came crumbling down, leading to a global and all-sector financial crisis with little identity as to which institutions were in bankruptcy (Amadeo, 2010). This was as a result of a complex system of financial derivatives and contracts that were difficult to determine given the limited financial information then available (Jickling, 2009).

Predator lending – Another factor that contributed greatly and grossly to the financial crisis of the time was the deceitful predatory lending by financial institutions. The institutions would entice borrowers or mortgage buyers with appealing interest rates and have them commit to the mortgages even when such a commitment had hidden charges or adjustments (The Economist, 2010). A common practice involved the use of very low interest rates to hook up people after financing. Upon the completion of the mortgage, the client would realize later that the mortgage was an adjustable one with rates rising gradually to almost double the value they borrowed.

Many would end up unable to pay back the commitments and have their mortgages seized or have to deal with a negative amortization mortgage (McLean & Nocera, 2010).  In one case, the California attorney sued Countrywide Financial for fraudulently enticing borrowers in to a bait-and-switch conman mortgage with expensive mortgage payments (The Economist, 2010). With the falling housing prices, the home owners with outstanding mortgages were demotivated to pay their dues against the devalued prices of their mortgages, leading to massive defaulting and a financial crisis in the industry (Jickling, 2009).

Poor underwriting practices – Another factor that led to the ultimate onset and peaking of the financial crisis was the poor underwriting practices by intermediaries, banks and even insurers. Regulations require that a loaning process should follow the loaning institutions documentation guidelines and the underwriting process ought to be understood in depth to avoid unforeseen difficulties or illegalities. However, the pre-crisis period was characterized by rapid underwriting processes with little or no attention to the lender’s procedures and rules of engagements.

Loans and mortgages would be processed with little or no official documentation completed as per the issuers rules of engagement, which would lead to borrowers being subjected to terms they didn’t sign for or they were unaware of, high defaulting rate by loan holders and selling of loans without full disclosure as to the terms attached to such loans (Greenberg & Hansen, 2009; Amadeo, 2010). At the end, the victims would be realized as unable to honor their commitment due to the inflated loans, some of which would never be recovered.

In this saga, about 1600 mortgages bought by the mortgage firm Citi from mortgage dealers were found to be defective and unenforceable while the mortgages had been passed on from the dealers to the banker. The poor and fraudulent underwriting process therefore contributed immensely to the financial crisis in which banks couldn’t provide financing as they had too many commitments to honor, alongside the housing crisis (Jickling, 2009).

2007-2008 Financial Crisis, in conclusion, this paper asserts the academic and scholarly authority that the largest and longest financial crisis witnessed post the great depression era was as a result of structural factors such as the easing on monetary policies, excess risk assumed by banks, excessive borrowing of cheap but risky loans by consumers, the fall of the US Housing Market, poor risk profile on stocks, the federal budget deficit, over leveraging by banks, predatory lending, poor underwriting and the Federal Budget Deficit. These factors made many banks and institutions to collapse.

References

Amadeo, K. (2010). “2008 Financial Crisis: The Causes and Costs of the Worst Financial Crisis Ever Since the Great Depression.” The Balance.

Greenberg, R., & Hansen, C. (2009). “If you had a pulse, we gave you a loan.” NBC news.

Jickling, M. (2009). Causes of the 2007-2008 Financial Crisis.

McLean, B., & Nocera, J. (2010). All the devils are here: unmasking the men who bankrupted the world. Penguin UK.

The Economist (2010). “Predatory lending: let’s not pretend we don’t understand how it worked.”

Williams, M.T (2010). Uncontrolled risk: the lessons of Lehman Brothers and how systemic risk can still bring down the world financial system. McGraw-Hill.

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Strategic Finance Management

Strategic finance management refers to the procedures, systems, and practices established by an institution to aid in reaching its goals, such as expansion, stakeholder’s wealth maximization, and corporate social responsibility. The executives develop insights from business activities, its capabilities, stakeholder expectations, as well as the available opportunities. Hence, the strategies have to be based on a well-formulated game-plan, which has a clear vision (Deloitte, 2019).

An appropriate strategic finance management scenario defines an elaborate picture of the organization’s target, lays down the courses of action to lead the entity there, brings work satisfaction and morale, as well as brings together finance officials through fast communication, and timely decision making (Deloitte, 2019).

Ratio Computation and Analysis for Redding and Neaves Companies – Using Strategic Finance Management Techniques

1. Profitability Ratios

This refers to financial computations that investors and business advisers apply while determining an institution’s revenue (Clear Tax, 2018). To get the profit realized, the metrics asses the difference between the receipt and payments made within a particular financial period, such as a year. For the two competing manufacturers, returns on investment and returns on capital employed are used.

a. Return on Investment

It is a ratio used to compute the gains of an investor concerning the amount of their investment. A high ratio, the more the benefits to be earned by the investor (Schmidt, 2019). With this ratio, investors can eliminate the projects promising low profits and focus on those that have a likelihood of raising higher returns.

Return on Investment Redding Co. = Revenue after Tax  × 100

Capital Employed 

ROI = 49 × 100 = 40.49%

121

ROI Neaves Co.

= 379 × 100 = 65.34%

580

Conclusion: Neaves has a higher ROI, hence is earning more revenue compared to Redding by 24.84%. Thus, Neaves is more appealing to an investor.

b. Return on Capital Employed

It is a ratio that is used in determining a company’s profitability due to its efficiency in capital utilization. A company with a higher ROCE means that it had a more economical use of capital that realized maximum gains (Daniel, 2018).            

ROCE = Earnings before Interest and Tax × 100

Capital Employed

Redding: =      80   × 100 = 66.11%.

121      

Neaves ROCE = 503 × 100 = 104.79%

480

Conclusion: both organizations have a significant amount of returns on the capital they have put to use. However, with Neaves having a higher return, investors can prefer it as their investment of choice because it will utilize their funds better.

2. Efficiency Ratios Strategic Finance Management

They are financial metrics that inform on a company’s ability to utilize its assets while keeping an eye on its liabilities in both the short and long terms (Peavler, 2019). It is the efficiency ratios that ensure an organization is not experiencing over investment or under investments. Fixed assets turnover and inventory turnover are the ratios to be used in this analysis.

a. Fixed Assets Turnover

It looks into how a form utilizes the available fixed assets like plants and equipment to increase sales. A firm that has a low number of fixed assets turnover in under utilizing its assets and should work towards optimizing the usage of fixed assets (Peavler, 2019). 

Fixed Assets Turnover = (Sales ÷ Fixed Assets)

Redding Co.

FAT = (195 ÷ 255) = 0.764

Neaves Co.

FAT = (1050 ÷ 1026) = 1.033

Conclusion: Neaves Company has a higher fixed assets turnover, meaning that it utilizes its fixed assets in making sales, better compared to Redding Company.

b. Inventory Turnover

Also known as stock turnover, inventor turnover is a financial metric that is used in determining the number of times that a business has ordered a new batch of inventory after selling a previous batch (Nicasio, 2019). It is computed on pre-determined periods such as semiannually, annually, monthly, or weekly.  

Inventory Turnover = Cost of Sales.

Average Stock 

Redding Co. = 78 = 5.2 Times

15

Neaves Co. = 273 = 8.03 Times  

34

Conclusion: Neaves Co. has a higher inventory turnover ratio than Redding Co. it implies that Neaves has more sales; hence, more promising returns or revenue.

Strategic-Finance-Management
Strategic-Finance-Management

3. Liquidity Ratios

They are ratios used in measuring the ability of an organization to settle its short-term liabilities when they are due without necessarily having to raise capital from lenders (Kenton, and Hayes, 2019). The quick ratio and Current ratio are used in this analysis and commonly found in strategic finance management.

a. Quick Ratio

It is a financial ratio used in determining the ability of an entity to meet its current liabilities using its liquid assets only. In this case, the stock is eliminated from the liquid assets category because it is time-consuming to convert it into cash (Eliodor 2014, P. 5). A company that is at optimal performance should have a quick ratio of 1:1, which shows its ability to pay for the liabilities due using its liquid assets. 

Quick ratio = Current Assets – Stock

   Current Liabilities  

Redding Co. = 65 – 15 = 1.67

  30

Neaves Co. = 198 – 34 = 1.07

153

Conclusion: Since the optimal quick ratio should be 1:1, and both have a quick ratio of more than 1, they can readily service their obligations when due. However, Redding Co has a higher quick ratio and is, therefore, better positioned to convert its liquid assets faster compared to Neaves Co.

c. Current Ratio

It is a liquidity ratio, which is used in measuring an entity’s ability to pay for its short-term liabilities that is the debts due within a year. It informs the investors about how well a company realizes optimal benefits from its current assets so that it can meet its current debts and other payables (Kenton, 2019).  The optimal current ratio should be 2:1 that is two current assets for one current liability

Current Ratio = Current Assets

Current Liabilities

Redding Co.

Current Ratio = 65 = 2.167

30

Neaves Co.

Current Ratio= 198 = 1.294

153

Comparison: Redding Company has a higher current ratio of 2.17:1, while Neave’s Company’s current ratio is 1.29:1. It implies that Redding can quickly pay for its current liabilities while Neaves is going to experience challenges paying for the obligations because it has not met the optimal current ratio.

4. Gearing Ratios.

It is a business assessment ratio that is concerned with the business’s capital structure. The ratio determines the amount and impacts of financing contributed by the stakeholders compared to external funding, such as the use of debt (Bragg, 2019). If a company has a high gearing ratio, it implies that the company has used more of debt capital and less of equity capital. Besides, low gearing means that the company has employed more equity and less of debt in its capital. A highly leveraged/geared company uses debt capital to meet daily obligations, which poses a threat of bankruptcy to the organization (Bragg, 2019). In this comparison, the equity ratio and debt ratio will be used to assess the gearing of the two companies.

a. Equity Ratio/ Net worth to total assets ratio

It is a financial arithmetic that indicates the relative amount of equity that is used in paying for a company’s assets. It informs shareholders about their funds compared to the institution’s total assets, thereby showing the businesses’ solvency position in the future (Ready ratios, 2013).  

Equity ratio = Equity ÷ Total Assets

Redding Co.

Equity ratio = 121 ÷ 320 = 0.378 or 37.8 %.

Neaves Co.

Equity ratio = 480 ÷ 1214 = 0.395 or 39.5 %

Comparison: both companies have an equity ratio of less than 51%. It means that their equity has funded a low amount of their assets, while a significant amount is funded using borrowed funds. The two companies are leveraged and are going to pay a significant amount of interest on the borrowed funds.

b. Debt Ratio

It is a financial leverage arithmetic that is used to measure the amount of a company’s assets that have been purchased using debt capital. If a company has a debt ratio of more than 1, it implies that it has a higher number of liabilities compared to its assets. Conversely, a ratio that is less than 1 indicates that the company has a high proportion of its assets purchased using equity (Investors answers, 2019).

Debt Ratio = Debt

Total Assets

Redding Co.

Debt ratio = 199 = 0.62 or 62%

320

Neaves Co.

Debt ratio = 634 = 0.52 or 52%

1214

Comparison: Redding Co. has a higher debt ratio, meaning that a significant proportion of its assets are acquired using debt capital other than equity. Therefore, Redding Company is more leveraged compared to Neaves Company.

5. Ratios by Investors to Determine Performance

They are financial arithmetic ratios that are used in determining the amount of returns an investor expects if they obtain a company’s stock at the current market prices. The ratio help in determining whether the shares are under priced or overpriced (Peavler, 2019). The ratios to be used are the interest coverage ratio and preference dividend coverage ratio. 

a. Interest Coverage Ratio

It is used in determining the ease of a business in servicing the interest of its borrowed funds from the realized revenue (Ready Ratios, 2013). The higher the ratio, the better the financial stability of an institution. If a company has a ratio of less than 1.0, it is facing challenges in making ales to raise revenue.

Interest Coverage Ratio = Earnings Before Interest and Tax 

Interest Expense

Redding Co.

ICR = 80 ÷ 19 = 4.21

Neaves Co.

ICR = 503 ÷ 29 = 17.34

Comparison: Both companies have an ICR of more than 1. Therefore, they can pay their interest expenses quickly from the revenue realized. Neaves Company is better positioned to pay for interest expenses because it has a higher ICR compared to Redding Co.

b. Preference Dividends Coverage Ratio

It is a financial ratio used in determining the organization’s ability to for its preference dividends.  A company that has issued preference dividends determines its ability to pay the dividends on such shares using this ratio.

Preference dividends coverage ratio = Profits After Tax.

Preference Dividends

Redding Co.

= 49 ÷ 0 = 0

Neaves Co.

379 ÷ 100 = 3.79

Comparison: Redding Company has not issued any preference shares; hence, it doesn’t pay any preference dividends. Neaves Co. has issued preference shares and has a preference dividends coverage ratio of 3.79. The latter company can, therefore, pay for the preference easily when they are due.

References – Strategic Finance Management Essential Reading

Bragg, S. (2019) Gearing ratio, Accounting Tools

Clear tax, (2018) Profitability Ratio Formula with Examples

Daniel, E. (2018) Return on Capital Employed

Deloitte (2019) Finance Strategy solutions

Eliodor, T. (2014)  Financial Statement Analysis, Journal of Knowledge Management, Economics, and IT.

Investing Answers (2019). Debt Ratio

Kenton, W. (2019) Current ratio Analysis – Strategic Finance Management

Kenton, W. (2019)  Strategic Financial Management

Nicasio, F. (2019) Inventory Turnover Definition and How to get it Right

Peavler, R. (2019). Asset Management ratios in Financial Analysis

Ready Radios, (2013) The definition and application of equity ratio – Strategic Finance Management

Schmidt, M. (2019) Returns on Investment Metric for measuring profitability

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Cryptocurrency Financial Operations

Consumer Perception of the Effectiveness of Cryptocurrency in Day To Day Financial Operations – Dissertation

Cryptocurrency has not received that much attention from IS (Information Systems) and as a consequence of this, there is still a gap in the literature with a great potential for research, specifically how the technology fares within the consumer context. Most notably, this dissertation is interested at the traction Cryptocurrency is gaining in today’s economy and how consumers are responding to this innovation. This dissertation will broadly present the evolution of Cryptocurrency, its financial characteristics, and what factors influence its value formation. The focus will then shift at the underlying models that are used both in a practical and academic setting to illustrate the factors that contribute to the acceptance and diffusion of a new technology. The conceptual model will be based on the Innovation Diffusion Theory of Everett Rogers.

Using a specifically designed questionnaire, consumer opinions are quantified in order to ascertain current attitudes and beliefs. Furthermore, after examining specifically designed hypothesis that deal with technology adoption, it was discovered that pivotal factors such as complexity, relative benefits and education play a distinct role in the uptake of Cryptocurrency. This is important because as a new technological instrument, Cryptocurrency opens the door to a number of opportunities for consumers, but only after overcoming a number of challenges and limitations that might prevent it to be accepted.

Cryptocurrency Dissertation
Cryptocurrency Dissertation

Thus, the aim is to investigate the monetary characteristics of a financial innovation in conjunction with the sociological component. This will lead to a better understanding of the constructs that influence the decision to adopt a novel technology by looking at a number of social and psychological factors. An overview of the leading technology adoption theories is provided that will address a number of cognitive, effective and contextual factors. While the study could potentially draw from all these theories, the Innovation Diffusion Theory of Everett Rogers will serve as a foundation, and all the assumptions will be based on this particular model.

Dissertation Objectives

  • What is the consumer response regarding the use of cryptocurrencies in day to day financial operations?
  • The main objective of this dissertation is to determine the level of consumer awareness, perception and degree of utilisation.
  • What are the main factors that influence the consumer intention to adopt cryptocurrencies?

Dissertation Contents

1 – Introduction
Background and Context
The Rationale for the Research
Research Objectives

2 – Literature Review
The Evolution of Cryptocurrency
What Is Cryptocurrency And What Is It Based On?
What Gives Cryptocurrencies Value?
Difference between Cryptocurrency and Traditional FIAT Currency
Cryptocurrency Nomenclature
Advantages and Disadvantages in using Cryptocurrency
Advantages
Disadvantages
Technology Adoption Theories
Hypothesis

3 – Methodology
Research Philosophy
Research Approach
Research Design and Strategy
Sample Size and Population
Ethical Considerations
Data Analysis

4 – Results
Demographics
Familiarity
Adoption Factors

5 – Research Findings and Discussion

6 – Conclusion

References

Appendix
Questionnaire

View This Dissertation Here: Cryptocurrency Dissertation

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Corporate Tax Avoidance Project

According to Christensen et al. (2015), corporate tax avoidance means using the legal strategies to adjust the financial circumstances of an individual to lower the amount of tax the said individual is owing to the state. Corporate tax is achieved through claiming permissible credits and deductions. Most often, corporate tax avoidance is usually confused with tax evasion. Although the two phrases could sound similar, however, Armstrong et al. (2015) believe that tax evasion applies illegal techniques like under reporting the income of an individual to make him or her avoid paying the taxes. According to Sikka (2010) tax avoidance strategy of a given corporation is an ‘organized hypocrisy.’

Avoidance Strategy as an Organized Hypocrisy

I agree with Sikka’s Term that tax avoidance is an organized hypocrisy. Just to mention, companies tend to excel at speaking on social responsibilities when at the same time they devising structures to enable them evade paying taxes. The tenacity of corporate tax avoidance as well as the evasion lures a devotion to organized hypocrisy which can be properly comprehended as the gaps that exist between the decision, the action and the corporate talk, (Brunsson, 1989, 2003). Corporate tax avoidance is indeed an organized hypocrisy. In particular, a case of WorldCom, which is a US telecommunications organization, collapsed amid of allegations of fraud in the year 2002. Consequently, the second reason why I agree with Sikka’s claim that corporate tax avoidance is an organized hypocrisy is the case of KPMG that was borrowed in 1997 considering the initial fee of three million dollars. Later, KPMG recouped a half a million dollars fee which meant to carter for the feasibility study. Notably, the organization proceeded to earn the bonuses of performance totaling to extra two million dollars.

Main Costs of Tax Avoidance

According to Koester, Shevlin, and Wangerin, tax avoidance will keep on inflicting and results to costly consequences to millions of individuals as long as the leaders of low-income countries are excluded from the tax avoidance solution (2016). Notably, in July 2014 at Los Angeles College, President Obama proclaimed loudly that those who employed creative measures to ensure their taxes were reduced were merely corporate deserters renouncing their citizenship to shield profits. Gaertner (2014) reveals that such strategies by individuals to avoid corporate tax have severe costs. There are five main cost types which are generated by companies and individuals vigorously avoid tax.

First, the authorities handling tax collection attempt to counter ingenious tax avoidance practice and institute new opinions and regulations which in turn become supplementary to the tax code. Although the purpose of this measure is to increase certainty, however, the end results is a convoluted tax which leads to the second cost of tax avoidance which is corporate compliance cost.

The third cost of corporate tax avoidance is increasing the cost of administration. Forth, tax avoidance encourages the formation of lobbyists and tax specialist industries which are created to exploit the system. The last main cost of tax avoidance is the loss of the government revenue. According to Hanlon (1994) and Sikka (2003), the federal government of the United States losses fifty to one hundred and seventy billion dollars annually due to tax avoidance.

Key Issue Surrounding Tax Avoidance

According to the Guardian on 30th March 2009, developing countries often receives approximately one hundred and twenty billion dollars from G20 countries in the foreign aid in which the said developing countries are losing an approximate amount of between eight billion and one trillion dollars from the unlawful financial outflow every year to the countries of the west (Kar & Cartwright-Smith, 2008). As Baker (2005) and Cobham (2005), about five hundred billion dollars is lost over a variety of corporate tax avoidance structures in which a substantial amount is attributed to price practices which shifts profits from the developing countries to already developed countries.

Tax is a major cost to many companies and they formulate strategies which ensure that such costs are minimized thus causing tax avoidance. According to Finch (2004), although rules still remain to be rules, nevertheless, they are prone to be broken and thus no matter which legislations are in place, the lawyers and the accountants will always find a way around the game of tax avoidance. Multinational is the leading case studies of tax avoidance since they have multiple locations which allow them to organize profits in those countries which are favorable tax regimes (Bowler, 2009).

Moral and Economic Implications of Corporate Tax Avoidance

In my own thoughts, corporate tax avoidance has negative moral and economic implications. The company which avoids tax uses the definition of CSR and also relies on a set of moral principles to assess their taxpaying behaviors using the lens of morality and ethics. However, moral reasoning is more complex than one can imagine. Following the thoughts of KMPG (2006), tax payment forms a key responsibility in the contemporary corporation. Some people usually consider paying corporate tax as a moral problem although others find it as being moral while a good portion will find the payment of corporate tax as an immorality. On the other hand, economic implication of corporate tax is that it makes accounting companies be capitalist and thus cannot buck the system pressure to raise their own profits thus creating new tax avoidance schemes and reducing the contribution to the government (Sikka, 2005). When the tax is not collected fully, the accumulated tax compels the government to stop spending in critical areas like welfare and schools which leads to underdevelopment.

Ways in Which Corporate Tax Avoidance can be Restricted

I think that there are ways that can be used to restrict corporate tax avoidance. First is through legislation. Legislation can be achieved through standardizing corporate reporting systems to make the government process information and also compare taxes across firms to see who is avoiding the corporate tax. The legislation should aid in the detection of fraud and strictly monitor a company’s insiders on the matters of tax.

Corporate Tax Avoidance Project
Corporate Tax Avoidance Project

The legislation on the tax avoidance can be enforced through well-functioning courts through playing the central importance of law enforcement of the contracting parties. The other way in which tax avoidance can be restricted is through ensuring proper accounting standards. Leuz et al report that proper accounting standards bring about a global reporting coverage than often thought (2003). Single sets of accounting cannot sufficiently compare reporting and disclose any malpractice.

Harmonization of Accounting Standards- Implementation and Challenges

It is argued that there should be standardization of the accounting policy among nations to fully realize the global economy. Harmonization of accounting standards facilitates international transactions as well as minimizing the costs of exchange through the provision of standardized information to the world’s economy. The harmonization is done by the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC), the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The said bodies are mandated to implement the accounting standards across the world. However, there are challenges faced during the implementation. First is the challenge of comparability. Comparability can be achieved through like things looking alike as well as unlike things looking unlike (Trueblood, 1966). According to Truebold, “things” in the accounting include the regulatory culture, the culture of auditing, the culture of account as well as the financial and business culture. The other challenge is associated with the problem of interpretation in which language is a problem when translating IFRS from English or to English.

Most accounting standards are limited in bringing convergence. It should be noted that adopting a single set of accounting cannot be sufficient to allow comparability as well as disclose relevant practice even if the said principles are compulsory to all the countries. However, the idea of adopting common sets of accounting standards cause more comparable reporting techniques as well as high-quality accounting standards like the IFRS (Leuz et al. 2003). Adopting IFRS requires that the party countries must have the asset pricing market which provides accounting values.

High accounting standards cause high quality and transparent reporting to most companies. In addition, IFRS causes economic benefits as well as cost saving. When harmonizing the accounting standards, there is a challenge of public versus private owned enterprises which includes the related party transactions. Following the observation above, the issue of comparability in accounting becomes a problem because tricky auditing problems arises (Leuz et al. 2003).

The harmonization of accounting standards requires the implementation guidance. According to Baker (2005), the IFRS have the implementation guidance to the accounting standards either through the non-authoritative guides or being standard themselves. For instance, IFRS issued the share-based guidance which is made up of forty four paragraphs relating to the application guidance. Similarly, the body issued non-authoritative guidance which guides the implementation of IFRS to guide the harmonization of the accounting standards. The IASB body on the other hand created the international financial reporting interpretation committee which oversees the share-based payment guidance. However, Trueblood (1966) believes that the countries and enterprises which apply the IFRS in their accounting standards will become more heterogonous in terms of the size, the jurisdiction, the ownership structure as well as the structure of the capital and there will be an increase the degree of accounting sophistications.

According to Brunsson (1989), the international convergence on the harmonization of standards demands that the implementation of IFRS policies and guidance must be increased in order to achieve the intended accounting standards. The scholar adds that if the IASB committee fails to respond to the demands concerning the detailed implementation guide of the accounting standards, then the preparers of the harmonized standards must look for the implementation guidance from elsewhere. The preparers can turn to EITF consensus to obtain answers to the questions concerning the application of IFRS. On the contrary, the form of convergence generated above is not as a result of cooperative behavior or the joint decision but as a result of auditors and preparers who seek guidance from a non-IASB credible source.

The implementation of the harmonization of the accounting standards exhibits a challenge in which the individual party countries’ financial reporting outcomes which are partly determined by the requirements of the accounting standards and partly by the incentives. The premise of the financial reporting outcome is that the accounting standards requires sufficient judgment by the preparers and auditors so that the figures reported are materially affected by the incentives of the financial reporting outcomes and the requirements of the accounting standards. Nevertheless, the typical relationship between the accounting standards and the incentives of the financial reporting outcomes is not well understood which forms part of the challenges in the implementation of accounting standards.

Leuz et al. (2003) institute that allowing the adoption of the IFRS will allow for the test of incentives that interacts with two or more standard regimes within the accounting standards. Warfield et al (1995) reveals that the financial reporting outcome is majorly affected by the ownership structure of the international accounting structure. The evidence which is available on the above claim reveals the marked specific jurisdiction differences in the ownership structure that affects the harmonization of the accounting standards.

La Porta et al. (1999) have analyzed the ultimate ownerships of the mid and large size firms in the twenty seven wealthy countries and identified four types of ultimate owners who play a key role in the accounting standards. The types include the public held non-financial institutions, the public owned financial institutions, the families and individuals as well as the state. The ownership structure of an enterprise needs to be considered before making implementations on the harmonization of the accounting standards.

Harmonization of the accounting standards requires the globalization of the trends involving the technology as well as globalization of finance. In the United States comparability of the financial data is one of the major driving forces behind the accounting standards. The comparability has been within the companies of the United States until 1980s where they began focusing on the capital markets. Some countries prefer comparability while others do not (Leuz et al. 2003). In 1991 the FASB board was challenged to become more actively involved in globalizing trends and the internationalization of the accounting standards. The plan published by FASB instituted the objectives for achieving comparability between the accounting standards of the United States and the major national standards-setting bodies.

References

Armstrong, Christopher S., Jennifer L. Blouin, Alan D. Jagolinzer, and David F. Larcker. “Corporate governance, incentives, and tax avoidance.” Journal of Accounting and Economics 60, no. 1 (2015): 1-17.

Avoidance: Some Evidence and Issues. Accounting Forum, Vol. 29(3), 325-343.

Baker, R.W. (2005), Capitalism‘s Achilles Heel, New Jersey: John Wiley.

Beresford, D.R., Katzenbach, N. and Rogers Jr., C.B. (2003). Report Of Investigation by The Special Investigative Committee of the Board Of Directors Of WorldCom, Inc. Washington DC.

Bowler, T. (2009, February). Countering tax avoidance in the UK: Which way forward? Institute for Fiscal Studies. Discussion Paper No. 7.

Brunsson. N. (1989), ―The Organization of Hypocrisy: Talk, Decisions and Actions in Organizations‖, John Wiley, Chichester.

Christensen, D. M., Dhaliwal, D. S., Boivie, S., & Graffin, S. D. (2015). Top management conservatism and corporate risk strategies: Evidence from managers’ personal political orientation and corporate tax avoidance. Strategic Management Journal36(12), 1918-1938.

Christensen, J. and Murphy, R. (2004), ―The Social Responsibility of Corporate Tax Avoidance: Taking CSR to the Bottom Line‖, Development, Vol. 47 No. 3, pp. 37-44.

Cobham, A. (2005). ―Working Paper 129: Tax Evasion, Tax Avoidance, and Development Finance‖. The University of Oxford Finance and Trade Policy Research Centre.

Gaertner, F. B. (2014). CEO After‐Tax compensation incentives and corporate tax avoidance. Contemporary Accounting Research31(4), 1077-1102.

Hanlon, G., (1994). The Commercialisation of Accountancy: Flexible Accumulation and the Transformation of the Service Class, London: Macmillan.

Kar, D. and Cartwright-Smith, D. (2008). Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2002—2006. Washington DC: Global Financial Integrity.

Koester, A., Shevlin, T., & Wangerin, D. (2016). The role of managerial ability in corporate tax avoidance. Management Science63(10), 3285-3310.

KPMG, (2005). ―KPMG International Annual Review 2005, KPMG.

La Porta, R., Lopez-de-Silanes, F., Shleifer, A. and Vishny, R. (1998) Law and finance, Journal of Political Economy, 106, pp. 1113–1155.

 La Porta, R., Lopez-de-Silanes, F. and Shleifer, A. (1999) Corporate ownership around the world, Journal of Finance, 54, pp. 471–517.

Leuz, C., Nanda, D. and Wysocki, P. (2003). ‘Earnings management and investor protection: an international comparison’. Journal of Financial Economics, 69: 505– 527.

Sikka, P. and Hampton, M.P. (2005). The Role of Accountancy Firms in Tax.

Trueblood, R.M., 1966. Accounting principles: the board and its problems, in Empirical Research in Accounting: Selected Studies 1966, The Institute of Professional Accounting, Graduate School of Business, The University of Chicago, Chicago, pp. 183–191.

US Bankruptcy Court Southern District of New York, (2004). Third and Final Report of the Insolvency Examiner: In re WORLDCOM, INC., et al, Chapter 11, Case No. 02-13533 (AJG), Kirkpatrick & Lockhart LLP, Washington DC.

Werther Jr., W.B., and Chandler, D., (2005). Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Stakeholders in a Global Environment. London: Sage.

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Fiscal Policy Effectiveness within the European Union

The issue of monetary and fiscal policy within the EU is strongly debated at this moment in time. This is particularly true with the unconventional monetary policies being put in place for the first time by the European Central Bank such as quantitative easing; as the economy looks to recover from the sovereign debt crisis of 2008. This dissertation seeks to answer the following research questions: (1) Was the lack of a fiscal union a key contributing factor to the crisis? (2) Can a monetary union be effective without a unified fiscal policy to support it? (3) Has there been increased conformity in these key indicators since the crisis?

With these questions in mind, a literature review is undertaken to discuss and analyse the key issues within the European Union and beliefs and approaches regarding fiscal and monetary policy, including the heavily debated topic of whether or not a fiscal union is required. This dissertation also carries out a study of income and corporate taxation rates and expenditure figures for seven key EU countries in order to answer the above research questions.

A clear pattern of convergence is seen in the taxation rates and allows us to conclude that there has been increased conformity in key fiscal indicators since the sovereign debt crisis of 2008. We then link these findings back to the literature review and show that they fit with the beliefs of a large amount of previous academic work in the field. Our findings suggest that there has been increased fiscal conformity since the crisis and also that the lack of fiscal conformity (not necessarily achieved through the presence of a fiscal union) was a key contributing factor to the crisis.

Finally we also find that there can be an improved level of fiscal conformity without a fiscal union within a monetary union however we are unable to say conclusively that a monetary union can be effective without a unified fiscal policy.

This finance dissertation aims to establish the answer to a number of questions that stem from the 2008 European sovereign debt crisis:

  • Was the lack of a fiscal union a key contributing factor to the crisis?
  • Can a monetary union be effective without a unified fiscal policy to support it?
  • Has there been increased conformity in key fiscal indicators since the crisis?
Fiscal Policy EU
Fiscal Policy EU

Fiscal Policy Dissertation Contents

1 – Introduction
Overview of Research Aims and Strategy
Research Motivation
Introducing Monetary and Fiscal Policy
The Maastricht Treaty and the Stability and Growth Pact
Overview of Structure

2 – Literature Review
Can a monetary union be effective without the support of a fiscal union?
A monetary union can be effective without the support of a fiscal union
A monetary union cannot be effective without the support of a fiscal union
Was the lack of fiscal union a key reason behind the 2008 sovereign debt crisis?
The lack of a fiscal union was not a key reason behind the crisis
The lack of a fiscal union was a key reason behind the crisis
Shortcomings in the literature: Has there been increased fiscal conformity since the sovereign debt crisis hit?
Changing Role of the European Central Bank
Summarising the Literature
Anti Fiscal Union
Pro Fiscal Union
Lack of Fiscal Union was not key to Sovereign Debt Crisis
Lack of Fiscal union was key to Sovereign Debt Crisis

3 – Research Methodology
Sample Selection Criteria
Hypotheses Development and Reliability
Data
Top Band Personal Income Tax Rates (%)

4 – Findings
Income Tax Data
Corporate Tax Data
Total Tax Data
Government Expenditure Data
Implications of Findings

5 – Conclusion
Summary of the Results and their Implications
Limitations
Suggested Areas for Future Research

References

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