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However, suspect CEO exercises generate average (median) estimated tax savings of ,000 (,000).
These savings appear modest relative to the costs insiders and firms face.
Despite recent controversies surrounding the backdating of executive stock options, the general attitude in the US is that backdating is not wrong (or right), per se.
In this article, the author writes: “Backdating by itself is not generally, at least with respect to private agreements, illegal.
We find that the likelihood of a suspect exercise increases in the likelihood of option grant backdating.
This suggests that agency problems associated with backdating permeate option compensation in some firms.
We appreciate comments and suggestions from Michelle Hanlon, Bob Holthausen (editor), Gregg Jarrell, Bill Schwert, Terry Shevlin (referee), Cliff Smith, Bob Trezevant, Joanna Wu, Jerry Zimmerman and workshop participants at Carnegie Mellon University, Forensic Economics, the University of Rochester, and the 2007 Journal of Accounting and Economics Conference.
Erickson appreciates financial support from the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago.