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The total compensation to executives granted back-dated options was either unchanged or, perhaps, lower than it would have been, since people tend to irrationally over-value a bird in hand (in the money options) to a dozen in the bush (out of the money options).
But it all became worse than a pseudo-scandal, in fact.
At first glance, call options represent the perfect way to tie an executive's level of compensation to the company's performance because as the company's share price increases, so does the payoff the executive will receive.
This means they must wait for the stock to appreciate before making any money.