Accounting for Executive Pay

The salary of the chief executive of a large corporation is not a market award for achievement. It is frequently in the nature of a warm personal gesture by the individual to himself.

—John Kenneth Galbraith

Accounting and disclosure issues have been central to executive compensation practices and public policy since the formation of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the establishment of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), beginning in the 1930s.1 Most payroll accounting practices involving cash originated early and have changed only modestly since then. More complex rules, such as stock options and retirement benefits, proved difficult to formulate and changed substantially ...

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