Executive Comp Now Completely Off The Rails
- Joshua M Brown
- July 2nd, 2011
Riddle me this: What is more overrated than any professional athlete, answers to no one and is paid at a factor of 50 times the average American worker?
Did you answer CEO? You got it!
I'm all for paying good people what the free market says they're worth, but in the case of Corporate America, there is no "free market" determining compensation.
There are only crony board members and "compensation committees" who sleep half the day away comfortable in the knowledge that no one actually owns any shares of stock anyway. When your investor base is brain-dead mutual fund families and daytraders who are in and out every half hour, there is no incentive to hold anyone accountable.
And that's how we get this...
From the New York Times:
The final figures show that the median pay for top executives at 200 big companies last year was $10.8 million. That works out to a 23 percent gain from 2009. The earlier study had put the median pay at a none-too-shabby $9.6 million, up 12 percent.
Total C.E.O. pay hasn’t quite returned to its heady, prerecession levels — but it certainly seems headed there. Despite the soft economy, weak home prices and persistently high unemployment, some top executives are already making more than they were before the economy soured.
And the big paychecks are so widespread as to be virtually indiscriminate, the naked eye simply cannot parse any rhyme or reason from the amounts or the recipients. When you look at which companies are paying how much to whom, you come away with the realization that it is a game of getting away with whatever the shareholders either won't notice or are too busy to gripe about.
$80 million for the CEO of Occidental Petroleum - did he invent a new type of oil that's made from water? $85 million for the CEO of Viacom, who must be working his tail off thinking of new and exciting places to put those Jersey Shore retards every six months. These companies pretty much run themselves, each has a few hundred Executive VPs of something or other. There are very few Lou Gerstners or Alan Mulallys in this group, trust me.
It's really unbelievable.
I'd love to see 2010 comp numbers versus 2008-2009 layoffs by company, maybe with an overlay of how small the dividend to shareholders is. Execs have both employees and shareholders completely triangulated at this point and there are only a handful of activist investors trying to keep them honest.
It's not working.
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The Reformed Broker is a blog about financial markets and the economy. Joshua Brown is a New York City-based investment advisor for high net worth individuals, charitable foundations, retirement plans and corporations... More.