Leading Indicators
A compendium of revealing stats
By Telis Demos, Fortune

(FORTUNE Magazine) -- LET MAJORITIES RULE

143: Number of shareholder resolutions proposed in 2006 to require a majority vote to elect board members. So far, 36 have passed. Back in 2004 only 12 such resolutions were considered, and zero passed.

GETTING WHAT HE PAID FOR

$500,000: Bribes paid by Richard Scrushy to buy a seat on an Alabama health-care regulatory panel. The former HealthSouth CEO was convicted of bribery on June 29, a year and a day after he was acquitted of false accounting that netted the company $2.7 billion. Scrushy, who's appealing the conviction, could serve up to 20 years in prison.

DEBT, BE NOT PROUD

$445 billion: Bond offerings by U.S. companies in the first half of 2006, a record half-year. The borrowing binge puts the bond market on pace to exceed the $676 billion mark set in 2001, despite rising interest rates and projections that the economy's growth will slow.

POPPY TALK

210,580: Decrease in acres used globally for opium and heroin cultivation (an area about the size of New York City) in 2005 from 1998, the last time it was measured. That's a drop of 36% worldwide, despite huge increases in post-invasion Afghanistan, now the source of 89% of all opiates.

SPAM TRAFFIC JAM

64.8%: Percentage of global e-mail traffic in June that was spam. While the portion of e-mail that's spam hasn't increased since June 2005, spam to cellphones and chat programs like Instant Messenger is growing quickly. MessageLabs estimates that 10% of all IM messages are now spam.

SOURCES: INSTITUTIONAL SHAREHOLDER SERVICES; COURT DOCUMENTS; BLOOMBERG; UNITED NATIONS WORLD DRUG REPORT; MESSAGELABS.  Top of page