Accounting researchers question the effect of (“bright-line”) regulations on firms' financial reporting behavior. To offer evidence on this issue, we take advantage of the regulatory environment in the Chinese setting. In China, regulators have created a bright-line at which firms must disclose within 30 days after the fiscal year-end expected changes in net income of 50 percent or greater. Consistent with earnings management to avoid reporting earnings that miss this explicit regulation-generated benchmark, we find that far more firms than would be expected just beat the −50 percent threshold (i.e., there is a distinct “kink” in the earnings change distribution at −50 percent). As further evidence of earnings management, firms just beating the −50 percent threshold have higher abnormal accruals and excess non-operating income. The ability of firms to avoid missing the −50 percent regulatory benchmark, however, is reduced for those with stronger monitoring (foreign investors, exchange regulators, and IFRS). We find no evidence of earnings management at the regulatory threshold of +50 percent change in net income. Overall, our study sheds light on firms' opportunistic reporting behavior to suppress bad news related to a regulatory benchmark and on the monitoring mechanisms associated with such behavior.

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