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Never, you might say, have so many cheated so much to gain so little.
The most common stock options are known as "at the money" options, which let you buy the company's stock at the price that it had on the day of the grant.
They're valuable only if the stock price rises after you get them.
The companies involved in the recent scandal were backdating options to a time when the stock price was lower, making them immediately lucrative.
As it happens, companies are perfectly free to issue options priced below the current market: those are called "in the money" options, and they're worth something right when they're issued.
Despite their successes, one of the problems with online dating Paumgarten flags is that people exaggerate (or disguise) elements of themselves via their online profile. When news broke, earlier this year, that some companies had backdated stock-option grants to employees in order to make them more valuable, it seemed like a problem that would come and go quickly: the number of companies thought to be involved was small and the impact fairly trivial.But the scandal has metastasized, engulfing more than a hundred companies, sparking criminal indictments, and forcing the departure of high-profile executives, including, just two weeks ago, William Mc Guire, the venerated chief of the health-care giant United Health Group. What's distinctive about this one is that the benefits companies got from backdating were so small.The backdating companies broke this rule: they reported how many options they were issuing, but conveniently omitted the fact that they had been backdated.In Washington, people say that it's not the crime that gets you--it's the coverup.