Factoring in stock options

In the wake of recent corporate scandals, support has spread rapidly for including the cost of employee stock options as an expense item in corporate income statements. David Rowe argues that while some reform is appropriate, present trends could end up doing more harm than good

It is a sad fact that many public policy initiatives grow out of a crisis. In this context, the debate usually plays out in stark terms of good versus evil. All too often, the resulting changes are made in haste, are poorly thought out and result in serious unintended consequences. I fear this familiar pattern is under way in the debate over the accounting treatment of employee stock options.

The impact of stock options
One of the enduring institutional challenges of the modern publicly held

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