Banking on an economic recovery without further interest rate cuts, Alan Greenspan and the rest of the Federal Open Market Committee today unanimously decided to keep the target for the federal funds rate unchanged at 1.75%, a four-decade low.

The stock market listed aimlessly awaiting the non-news from Greenspan & Co. and then didn't move much afterward. For more on how the Fed affects the economy, read this fine piece brought to you by your friends here at The Motley Fool.

In other non-news, yesterday the Major League Baseball Player's Association decided not to set a strike date yet. Gee whiz, not that the owners deserve any love, but if you're lucky enough to play a game for a living AND get paid millions of dollars to do so, you've got to be an idiot to give that up -- forget about whatever baseball means to the nation and that the anniversary of Sept. 11 is around the corner.

We will offer this, however, to any Major League Baseball player who goes on strike: If you can write and have an ounce of sense about money, come and work for the Fool. We're offering long hours and minimum wage, but it's more than a job -- it's an adventure.... Ahh, you wouldn't last two weeks.

The Motley Fool 50's dream is still to play shortstop for the Boston Red Sox. However, the index booted a sure double-play grounder today and fell almost 2%.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

Top 10 Exec Worries

Tomorrow's the big deadline for many executives across the nation. By then, the SEC will require hundreds of CEOs and CFOs to personally verify that their financial reports are both accurate and complete. While it's already illegal to submit false filings, this new regulation will mean guilty parties could face personal liability and the potential loss of some salary or bonuses.

In our never-ending quest for the truth, we asked our crack Motley Fool research team to call every company executive to find out how they feel about the new rule. Unfortunately, no one would talk to us. Nonetheless, we think we have a pretty good idea of what's on their minds.

Top worries of executives facing the deadline:

  • Controlling tremors so the signature is legible.

  • Will actually have to learn what the term "free cash flow" means.

  • Hours spent studying statements will disrupt napkin-folding classes with Martha Stewart.

  • The hum of shredders running in the background might damage hearing.

  • Making the signature "Arthur Andersen" look really official.

  • Wondering if prison uniforms come in XXL sizes.

  • Making sure that the "Trust us" look for the official photos appears sincere.

  • Waiting for the "nudge, nudge, wink, wink" auditing team gesture after being told that this notion is binding.

  • Will have to spend "quality time" with laugh-a-minute accounting staff.

  • Afraid shareholders will get the mistaken idea that management really cares about them.

Quote of Note

"Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh." -- W. H. Auden, 1907-1973, English-born American poet

Make Cuts That Count

We hope that during our week of self-auditing, you haven't been blindsided by accounting calamities like the honchos at WorldCom. We'll assume your spouse hasn't pilfered millions into a Bahamian dog-goggle factory, and that your solid gold bars are still safely stashed in your safety deposit box.

The biggest eye opener for most people performing a self-audit is that they're not saving as much money as they'd like. Welcome to the world of living below your means (or "LBYM," as those in the know refer to it).

Lucky for you, living below your means is as easy as pie! Just spend less money that you bring in. Then pass that savings along to a good investment.

Simple? Sure. Easy? Maybe not. But it's certainly worth the effort. As we pointed out earlier in our auditing series, every dollar can make a difference. Just 10 bucks a week piles up more than $11,600 in savings (assuming a 6% annual rate of return) in 15 years.

Living below one's means is a practice employed by some of the best CEOs. On a bigger scale, those who keep a lid on their company's costs and make smart decisions about directing their savings are rewarded. Take Winnebago Industries(NYSE: WGO). The cost-conscious company has zero debt and $115 million in cash on hand, helping it become the top seller of motor homes for the first time in two decades, according to Business 2.0.

The turnaround is in large part due to the penny-pinching guidance of CEO Bruce Hertzke. Hertzke's LBYM ways extend to his personal finances, too. "The guy pulled down more than $650,000 in salary and bonuses last year, but expects his 50 cents back from the three bucks he tosses on the bar for his $2.50 Canadian Club and 7-Up," Business 2.0 reports.

As the CEO of your financial empire, apply the same cost-consciousness to your own finances. There's no better place for guidance than the community of Fools who live under the LBYM moniker. Here are some resources that will help you find ways to plug up any cash flow leaks:

Discussion Board of the Day: Living Below Your Means

What's your favorite money-saving tip? Wanna share how you did Cleveland on $7.50 a day? Trade your best ideas on the Living Below Your Means Discussion Board. Only on

PeopleSoft in the Head

Let the news go forth here and now: Software maker and services provider PeopleSoft(Nasdaq: PSFT) has created the American stock option flag-waving syllogism. In a press release, CFO Kevin Parker said:

Major premise: "Expensing stock options will discourage companies from using them as incentives for innovation."

Minor premise: "In a competitive global economy, innovation and the creation of shareholder value have helped the U.S. maintain its economic leadership."

Then, the unstated conclusion: Therefore, stock options help the U.S. maintain its economic leadership.

Oh, please! Notice the clever rhetorical trick. He never says PeopleSoft has created shareholder value, but he puts "shareholder value" side by side with innovation and economic leadership. Who can argue with those? This is the print version of a candidate who stands next to a popular president. The association goes without saying. It's clear.

Parker does this because what's not clear is whether stock options have helped PeopleSoft create shareholder value. A look at a stock chart since PeopleSoft's 1993 IPO shows that if options were responsible for attracting and retaining employees essential to success, then they made some shareholders giddily rich prior to 1996 and at key points since then. But the stock's returns have been flat for over six years. Parker's syllogism fails.

If stock options matter so much -- and clearly life is different for the human resources department at a young company versus a large, established behemoth -- just give employees grants of restricted stock. The only difference? The company must expense them.

The best observation belongs to Morgan Stanley's Chief Investment Strategist Byron Wein, who is quoted in today's New York Times: "[Anyone] who says that stock options aren't an expense destroys his credibility on all other issues."

'Nuff said.

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Quick Takes

It looks like a choppy landing for American Airlines' parent AMR(NYSE: AMR). The country's second-largest airline carrier is about to get smaller, as its flight plan includes cutting 7,000 jobs, or roughly 9% of its present workforce. AMR's descent also finds itself retiring some of its jet fleet and deferring or canceling existing orders for new planes. Along with the bankruptcy filing of US Airways(NYSE: U) over the weekend, the skies have been anything but friendly for the major air carriers struggling to compete against the smaller regional carriers, which are turning a profit with smaller jets and streamlined employee contracts.

Has the thrill gone away? Amusement park operator Six Flags(NYSE: PKS) reported a staggering 11% drop in attendance. However, those who came to ride spent more, as per capita spending rose by 9.6%. Fiscally speaking, revenues and profits fell below last year's June quarter results, and the company reported July didn't get any better. The slower turnstile action is in line with recent reports of low traffic at Disney(NYSE: DIS) and its theme parks, while rival Cedar Fair(NYSE: FUN) has been able to hold its patron count in check with last year's showing.

The Sam Walton way of growing a lean, mean, inventory turnover machine continues, as Wal-Mart(NYSE: WMT) produced another stellar quarter. Margins improved at the leading retailer, with earnings rising by 28% to edge out analysts' bottom-line projections. Sales grew by 13% to hit a staggering $60 billion. In uncertain economic times, it's only natural for shoppers to turn to discount department stores to stretch dollars farther.

American Express (NYSE: AXP) won't leave home without expensing its stock options. The financial services giant became the latest publicly traded company to announce it would begin using fair value in accounting for granted options. While American Express won't start expensing the employee stock options until next year, it would've knocked earnings $0.07 a share lower if the treatment had taken place this year.

While most companies are getting leaner, Weight Watchers(NYSE: WTW) is plumping up. The diet specialist posted a 58% surge in earnings on strong gains in product sales and weight-loss plan memberships. While Weight Watchers loves to see scales go down, the company's now beefing up its fiscal guidance. It's expecting to earn between $1.28 and $1.30 a share this year, a nickel ahead of Wall Street's profit targets. That leaves nothing more than slim pickings for the pessimists.

Things might be picking up for the trade trade. While Charles Schwab(NYSE: SCH) is reporting total client assets fell by 4% from June's levels (and off by 11% over the past year), the market took an even bigger hit. In other words, there was a $4.4 billion surplus in net new assets brought into Schwab accounts last month. That still won't stop the leading discount broker from tightening its belt. It will be eliminating 375 jobs, mostly from the closure of a service center in Austin, Texas. However, with trading activity up and the market showing some degree of support lately, could the worst be behind us, Chuck?

And Finally...

Today on Taxing espresso in Seattle. Plus, catching up with eBay, AOL, and Amazon.... Matt Richey discusses when to short and why Guitar Center makes a great candidate.... How to measure a company's worth, in Fool's School.

Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Jeff Hwang, Tom Jacobs, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Jackie Ross, Reggie Santiago, Dayana Yochim