Executive Pay Update

EXECUTIVE PAY UPDATE….The Wall Street Journal reports that new SEC chairman Christopher Cox is getting ready to propose the “most sweeping overhaul of pay disclosure rules in 14 years”:

The proposed changes, according to SEC officials, would for the first time require corporate proxy statements to provide a column with a total annual compensation figure for each of a company’s five highest-paid executives and be far more specific about the value of their various benefits. Total compensation is an elusive number under the current system, and one for which investor advocates have long sought greater disclosure.

In addition, the SEC would force companies to take the monetary value of the stock-option grants given to top executives and place those figures side-by-side with salary and bonus information. Under a new accounting rule, companies must start expensing the value of their stock options.

….Mr. Cox, a free marketer and former congressman who worked in the Reagan White House, has signaled in recent months that executive compensation is going to be a major issue for him, and indeed the proposal will be the biggest change he has championed since taking over five months ago.

Good for him. Sunlight may or may not be the best disinfectant, but it’s a pretty good one. These rules are long overdue.