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Stock Options for Undiversified Executives

  • Brian J. Hall
  • Kevin J. Murphy

We employ a certainty-equivalence framework to analyze the cost and value of, and pay/performance incentives provided by, non-tradable options held by undiversified, risk-averse executives. We derive Executive Value' lines, the risk-adjusted analogues to Black-Scholes lines, and distinguish between executive value' and company cost.' We demonstrate that the divergence between the value and cost of options explains, or provides insight into, virtually every major issue regarding stock option practice including: executive views about Black-Scholes measures of options; tradeoffs between options, stock and cash; exercise price policies; connections between the pay-setting process and exercise price policies; institutional investor views regarding options and restricted stock; option repricings; early exercise policies and decisions; and the length of vesting periods. It also leads to reinterpretations of both cross-sectional facts and longitudinal trends in the level of executive compensation.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8052.

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Date of creation: Dec 2000
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Publication status: published as Journal of Accounting and Economics, Vol. 33, no. 1 (February 2002): 3-42
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8052
Note: CF LS
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  1. Christine Jolls, 1998. "Stock Repurchases and Incentive Compensation," NBER Working Papers 6467, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Rajesh Aggarwal & Andrew A. Samwick, 1998. "The Other Side of the Tradeoff: The Impact of Risk on Executive Compensation," NBER Working Papers 6634, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1983. "An Analysis of the Principal-Agent Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(1), pages 7-45, January.
  4. Acharya, Viral V. & John, Kose & Sundaram, Rangarajan K., 2000. "On the optimality of resetting executive stock options," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 65-101, July.
  5. Paul L. Joskow & Nancy L. Rose & Catherine Wolfram, 1996. "Political Constraints on Executive Compensation: Evidence from the Electric Utility Industry," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(1), pages 165-182, Spring.
  6. Jensen, M.C. & Murphy, K.J., 1988. "Performance Pay And Top Management Incentives," Papers 88-04, Rochester, Business - Managerial Economics Research Center.
  7. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 1995. "The equity premium: it's still a puzzle," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 102, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  8. Jennifer N. Carpenter, 2000. "Does Option Compensation Increase Managerial Risk Appetite?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(5), pages 2311-2331, October.
  9. R. Mehra & E. Prescott, 2010. "The equity premium: a puzzle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1401, David K. Levine.
  10. Paul Oyer, 2004. "Why Do Firms Use Incentives That Have No Incentive Effects?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(4), pages 1619-1650, 08.
  11. Robert C. Merton, 1973. "Theory of Rational Option Pricing," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 4(1), pages 141-183, Spring.
  12. Huddart, Steven & Lang, Mark, 1996. "Employee stock option exercises an empirical analysis," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 5-43, February.
  13. Brian J. Hall & Kevin J. Murphy, 2000. "Optimal Exercise Prices for Executive Stock Options," NBER Working Papers 7548, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Carpenter, Jennifer N., 1998. "The exercise and valuation of executive stock options," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 127-158, May.
  15. Jennifer Carpenter, 1999. "Does Option Compensation Increase Managerial Risk Appetite?," New York University, Leonard N. Stern School Finance Department Working Paper Seires 99-076, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business-.
  16. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2000. "Do CEOs Set Their Own Pay? The Ones Without Principals Do," NBER Working Papers 7604, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Cox, John C. & Ross, Stephen A. & Rubinstein, Mark, 1979. "Option pricing: A simplified approach," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 229-263, September.
  18. Brian J. Hall & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 1998. "Are CEOs Really Paid Like Bureaucrats?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(3), pages 653-691, August.
  19. John M. Abowd & David S. Kaplan, 1999. "Executive Compensation: Six Questions That Need Answering," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(4), pages 145-168, Fall.
  20. Kandel, Shmuel & Stambaugh, Robert F., 1991. "Asset returns and intertemporal preferences," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 39-71, February.
  21. Friend, Irwin & Blume, Marshall E, 1975. "The Demand for Risky Assets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(5), pages 900-922, December.
  22. Jérôme B. Detemple & Suresh Sundaresan, 1999. "Non-Traded Asset Valuation with Portfolio Constraints: A Binomial Approach," CIRANO Working Papers 99s-08, CIRANO.
  23. Kocherlakota, Narayana R., 1990. "On tests of representative consumer asset pricing models," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 285-304, October.
  24. Chip Heath & Steven Huddart & Mark Lang, 1999. "Psychological Factors And Stock Option Exercise," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 601-627, May.
  25. Dial, Jay & Murphy, Kevin J., 1995. "Incentives, downsizing, and value creation at General Dynamics," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 261-314, March.
  26. Lucas, Deborah J., 1994. "Asset pricing with undiversifiable income risk and short sales constraints: Deepening the equity premium puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 325-341, December.
  27. Black, Fischer & Scholes, Myron S, 1973. "The Pricing of Options and Corporate Liabilities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 637-54, May-June.
  28. Huddart, Steven, 1994. "Employee stock options," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 207-231, September.
  29. Detemple, Jerome & Sundaresan, Suresh, 1999. "Nontraded Asset Valuation with Portfolio Constraints: A Binomial Approach," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 12(4), pages 835-72.
  30. Lambert, Richard A. & Lanen, William N. & Larcker, David F., 1989. "Executive Stock Option Plans and Corporate Dividend Policy," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(04), pages 409-425, December.
  31. Murphy, Kevin J., 1999. "Executive compensation," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 38, pages 2485-2563 Elsevier.
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