The pace of standard-setting by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) has been glacial, which increases the risk that U.S. auditing standards are not keeping up with the global audit environment. Legislation enacted in 2012 that created the need to conduct economic analysis of proposed PCAOB standards added important considerations. If appropriately integrated into the process, these considerations can improve PCAOB standard-setting. We describe the PCAOB's current approach to economic analysis and offer recommendations to improve the coherence, usefulness, and relevance of the evidence sought to justify the need for standard-setting. Our recommendations involve a tailored approach that (1) differentiates among types of PCAOB standards based on considering their overarching purpose and target audience; (2) recognizes appropriate theories that are unique to each type of standard—whether economic or other theories; and (3) develops audit-centric core principles focused on audit quality on which to ground the discussion of each proposed standard. We hope our commentary shifts thinking about the approach to economic analysis to improve PCAOB standard-setting, stimulates academic discussion of these and other important issues facing the standard-setting process in the U.S., and inspires relevant research that informs PCAOB standard-setting.

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