The paper provides a broad discussion of the topic "accruals". Though much of what is said is familiar from the literature on accruals, the paper tries to develop concepts and show how theses forge tight links across a variety of themes. The starting point of the analysis concerns the construct of an accrual. The case is made that it should rest solely on consecutive balance sheets and the splitting of assets/liabilities into (i) cash and approximate cash, assets/liabilities and (ii) all other kinds of assets/liabilities. Given this divide of assets/liabilities one can measure the components in the foundation equation: cash earnings. +. net accrual. = comprehensive earnings. The paper then proceeds to discuss how the net accrual relates to growth in a firm's operating activities and the extent to which it can be informative or misleading. This topic in turn integrates with the issue of a firm's quality of earnings and the role of accounting conservatism. Among the remaining topics, the paper discusses how one conceptualizes diagnostics to assess whether or not a period's accrual is likely to be biased upwards or downwards. It gives rise to a consideration of how one constructs accruals that may be more informative than GAAP accruals and the role of value-relevance studies to assess the information content of accrual constructs. The paper ends with a list of suggestions how future research may be modified in light of the discussions in this paper.
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