SUMMARY: Corporate scandals and the resulting passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) in 2002 significantly affected the auditing profession. The quality of financial statement audits was called into questioned and the media and regulators held audit firms responsible. Several studies found evidence of an increase in the issuance of going-concern opinions after the passage of SOX relative to earlier time periods (Geiger et al. 2005; Nogler 2008; Myers et al. 2008). Auditors, it appears, behave more conservatively when the profession is in the headlines. We replicate and extend this research to determine whether the heightened conservatism continues or whether it fades as time passes. We examine audit opinions issued 12 months or less prior to a bankruptcy filing for 565 companies from 2000–2008. Our findings indicate that while the proportion of going-concern modifications increases sharply in 2002–2003 compared to 2000–2001, it declines in the periods that follow, ultimately returning to its pre-Enron level.

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