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Economic Commentary

Measures of Corporate Earnings: What Number is Best?

Revelations of corporate fraud in 2002 shook the public’s confidence in financial reporting and led to calls for reform. Without credible, transparent, and comparable financial information, investors, auditors, and others cannot make decisions that are essential to the efficient functioning of the economy. But while rules can be improved, it is not possible to achieve a rigid standard that applies uniformly to every company. This Economic Commentary explains why.

The views authors express in Economic Commentary are theirs and not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland or the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. The series editor is Tasia Hane. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. This paper and its data are subject to revision; please visit for updates.

Suggested Citation

Carlson, John B., and Erkin Sahinoz. 2003. “Measures of Corporate Earnings: What Number is Best?” Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Economic Commentary 2/1/2003.