I mean, if compensation for CEOs is up, as a new survey reports, that's the logical explanation, right?
CEO pay packages have boomed: the top 10 earners took home more than $770m between them in 2010. As stock prices began to recover last year, the increase in CEO pay outstripped the rise in share value. The Russell 3000 measure of US stock prices was up by 16.93% in 2010, but CEO pay went up by 27.19% overall. For S&P 500 CEOs, the largest companies in the sample, total realised compensation – including perks and pensions and stock awards – increased by a median of 36.47%. Total pay at midcap companies, which are slightly smaller than the top firms, rose 40.2%.
Working that hard makes losing a top job that much more painful:
Four of the 10 highest paid CEOs were retired or departing executives. Ronald Williams, former head of Aetna, a health insurer, exercised 2.4m options for a profit of $50.4m. Aetna's stock price declined by 70% from when Williams assumed the role of CEO in February 2006 until his retirement. At pharmacy chain CVS, Thomas Ryan made a $28m profit on his options. During Ryan's 13-year tenure as CEO, CVS Caremark's stock price decreased almost 54%.
As the Guardian comments, "2010 was a great year to lose your job as a CEO." Finally, the survey explains why bankers are in such a bad mood:
Bosses won in every area, with dramatic increases in pensions, payoffs and perks – as well as salary.
Still, there are no bankers among this year's big winners.