The Pushback on Executive Compensation

(FORTUNE Magazine) – CEO pay is still soaring. But SEC chair Christopher Cox (left) and others are pushing for accountability. Here's the skinny.

1  What does the SEC plan add? Trans-parency. The rules Cox proposed (which are expected to go into effect next year) would make companies disclose once-hidden info about pay and perks. Already Goldman Sachs has filed a detailed breakdown of CEO Hank Paulson's $38.8 million 2005 comp package, which includes $154,000 for a car and driver.

2  Is there fallout over Carly's golden parachute? Yes. Four pension funds sued Hewlett-Packard's board over former CEO Fiorina's severance (worth up to $42 million). HP reduced the multiple used to calculate future packages last summer, and firms like Chevron have followed suit. Wells Fargo recently canceled CEO Dick Kovacevich's severance payout.

3  Are we entering the age of the "claw back"? Maybe. There were 1,195 earnings restatements in 2005, up from 613 in 2004, according to shareholder advisory firm Glass Lewis. Sarbanes-Oxley gives companies the power to "claw back" bonuses granted to top execs during periods of dodgy accounting. With Fannie Mae facing a $10.8 billion restatement soon, deposed CEO Franklin Raines could be targeted.

4  So are outrageous perks a thing of the past? No. Shocking examples abound on financial blog Take Morgan Stanley, for example, which will pay $1.9 million to provide ousted CEO Phil Purcell with a secretary--for the rest of his life.