Monday, April 30, 2012

So How Much Do "They" Make?: Two Resources To Track CEO Pay

GOP nominee-in-waiting Mitt Romney continues to show that he exactly didn't get the memo ("Note to self: economy's in the tank") that's smacked every day Americans with the force of a) two-by-four, b) Mack truck, c) Sherman tank.  The Reckoner refers to the Mittmeister's recent speech, in which he urged young people to take risks...a bit cheeky, isn't it, coming from the man whose $250 billion fortune owes so much to helping big fish eat smaller fish!

One thing that Romney's verbal gaffes have done is shine a light on the issue of CEO pay.  Prying such information out of camera-shy concerns is notoriously difficult, as The Reckoner can attest, from his own media experience. That's why it's good to see resources like Executive Paywatch, which is now available through the AFL-CEO.  Putting their biases aside, you can plug in different data, and see the information yourself, such as this link for the Top 100 CEOs:

At $377.9 million, Apple CEO Timothy D. Cook emerges as the true 800-pound gorilla, making his second-place peer look like a piker (Lawrence J. Ellison, Oracle Corp: $77.5 million). Once you get past the Top Ten finishers, you'll find most of their counterparts nestled comfortably between $18 and $25 million. You can also try an industry-wide comparison, which reveals some other interesting disparities:

For example, in checking out the "Commercial Baking" section, you'll find heavy hitters like Brian T. Moynihan (Bank of America), Gerald L. Hassell (Bank of New York Mellon Corp.) and James Dimon -- to name three examples -- sitting well ahead of their peers with annual salaries of $8, $12 and $20 million, respectively.

On a different note, it's fitting that the lowest-paid commercial banking CEO happens to be a woman: Joanne Kim, of Wilshire Bancorp, Inc., who pulls down $313,823. Did this disparity happen because a) she's a woman, or b) she had a lousy negotiator on her behalf?  That's another debate for another time, but these are the kind of questions that should be asked.

Executive Paywatch has its glitches.  In trying the "Search CEO Pay Database" function, The Reckoner came up empty -- for future reference, it would be nice to plug in any Fortune 500 company, and have the desired name pop up.  However, the Reckoner recommends one source for a more thorough analysis of CEO pay. The Riley Guide boasts a wealth of good links, including reports pulled from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's files.  To see those details for yourself, go here:

One other figure stands out: according to Executive Paywatch, American CEOs now make 380 times what the average worker brings home -- versus the 1980s, when the gap was "only" 42 times as large!  Either way, the U.S. boasts the world's widest income gap...which isn't something to feel good about. Thirty-odd years of flat wages, outsourced jobs and runaway executive pay add up to a rotten equation for just about everybody else...with few real ways of clawing out of the mess.

What more proof do we need that it's time to stop test-driving the trickle-down ideology that's left the average person holding a big empty bag of hot air?  --The Reckoner

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