Tuesday, April 27, 2004

CEO Compensation Database

Title: CEO Compensation - Yahoo! Finance Special Edition
Source: Forbes
Date: April 2004

This article contains a database of CEO compensation for the largest 500 companies in America. The article slices and dices CEOs by pay and performance in several different ways. One of the most interesting things to look at is the pay and performance of the 10 CEOs receiving the highest compensation:
  • Reuben Mark - $148 million
  • George David - $70.5 million
  • Richard Fuld - $67.7 million
  • Henry Silverman - $60 million
  • Dwight Schar - $58.1 million
  • Lawrence Ellison - $40.6 million
  • Richard Kovacevich - $37.8 million
  • Howard Soloman - $36.1 million
  • James Cayne - $33.9 million
  • Todd Nelson - $32.8 million
The average pay for the group is $58.5 million per person, per year. Yet the average "grade" for the group is a C. Out of the group, six receive a C grade, one gets a D, one gets a B, one gets an A and one is ungraded.

One interesting fact: the article gives nine CEOs an A+ grade. Their average compensation is $2.2 million.

Another interesting fact: the CEOs of America's 500 biggest companies earned total compensation of $3.3 billion, for an average of $6.6 million per year.

The $3.3 billion paid to these 500 people came from consumers -- from you and me -- in the form of higher prices. With approximately 100 million households in America, it means that your household paid $33 to fund the extreme salaries of these 500 people.

When you extrapolate out from the CEOs to their "management teams", the numbers magnify significantly. The fact that the CEOs get paid so much means that the "number 2" people get paid a boatload too. So do the "number 3" people, and so on. This article on Enron indicates that a group of 144 top Enron executives in 2001 received an average of $4 million each, for a total of $620 million in a single year. Multiply that sort of extravagance by 500 large companies and you begin to see the magnitude of the problem. As consumers, we all pay hundreds of billions of dollars in inflated prices each year to fund these obscene salaries.

This concentration of wealth in these executives is corrupting the political process (through campaign contributions and lobbyists), the legal system (through highly paid lawyers and laws favoring the rich passed by congress), the tax system (through tax breaks for the wealthy and loopholes passed by congress) -- even the complexion of college campuses.


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