Asymmetric Reactions of Abnormal Audit Fee Jump to Credit Rating Changes
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Abstract Considering the inherent stickiness of abnormal audit fees, our study contributes to the literature by decomposing abnormal audit fees into a jump component and long-run sticky component. We investigate whether and how changes in credit ratings asymmetrically affect the jump component of abnormal audit fees. We document a positive association between rating downgrades and the jump component. We find that heightened bankruptcy risk and misstatement risk are the mechanisms that drive this relationship. Further analysis shows that firms experiencing rating downgrades are more likely to receive a going concern opinion and experience longer audit report lags. Taken together, our findings provide direct evidence that credit ratings are significantly associated with abnormal audit fees, particularly with the jump component. Given the serial correlation of abnormal audit fees, our study sheds light on the importance of disaggregation of the abnormal audit fee residuals into the jump and long-run sticky components.
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