New Research: Businesses Using Online Platforms and Machine-Readable Financial Reports

Research Round-Up: January 7, 2019

Businesses on Facebook and Propensity to Export: Australia

Christine McDaniel and Danielle Parks | Policy Spotlight

From the paper: "This report uses new survey data from SMBs with a presence on Facebook. We present detailed statistics for Australia and examine the propensity to export on Facebook compared with firms in general. We find that Australian businesses on Facebook have a higher propensity to export than firms in general for every firm size category (except the largest) and every industry category.

"Our findings are consistent with the emerging literature on digital platforms and international trade, which generally shows that businesses, particularly small businesses, on online digital platforms exhibit a higher propensity to engage in trade than businesses in general.

"It is still unclear if export-prone firms are more likely to be on digital platforms or if being on a digital platform makes a firm more likely to export. Firm-level data over time would enable a more sophisticated analysis and allow the researcher to control for confounding effects of other firm-level characteristics. But we should not be surprised if causality runs both ways in this relationship, and consequently we believe that a prudent approach in the design of policies and regulations on digital platforms and online social networks will not overlook the potential of these technologies in trade facilitation."

Applying XBRL to US State and Local Government Audited Financial Reports

Marc Joffe and Jacqueline Reck | Working Paper

From the summary: "Ten years after the Securities and Exchange Commission mandated the conversion of corporate financial statements to machine-readable formats, there is still no analogous mandate for state and local government Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs). We explore the challenges and benefits of migrating from PDF CAFRs to machine-readable filings using eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL). After explaining the benefits of machine-readable audited municipal financial data, we consider the challenges of creating and implementing an XBRL taxonomy for this sector and the impact a filing mandate would have on state and local governments. To better assess the challenges, we update a CAFR taxonomy previously published by Neal M. Snow and Jacqueline L. Reck and apply it to a city in Florida. While corporate XBRL filers generally use third-party filing firms, they can also use open-source software, low-cost licensed software, or both to produce the filings. Providing a variety of low-cost alternatives to state and local governments helps mitigate the challenge of providing affordable filings."