The Era of CEO Super-Pay Appears to Be on Hiatus

EPI has an interesting piece today about the growth of CEO pay. It’s the usual story: depending on how you measure it, CEO pay used to be about 20x worker pay, while today it’s 200-300x higher. But I was more curious about something else. CEO pay in recent decades has been tied to stock grants as a way of “paying for performance.” So how does CEO pay compare to the stock market?

Since I’m lazy I just averaged EPI’s two measurements to produce a single trendline. Here it is:

In theory, CEO pay ought to follow the stock market under a pay-for-performance scheme. But no. Even compared to the S&P, CEO pay skyrocketed from 2x to 10x between 1965 and 2000.

But then a funny thing happened: nothing. CEO pay flattened out at 10x and actually went down to about 7x after the Great Recession. By most measurements, CEO pay has stagnated relative to the stock market since 2010.

The same is true of workers, so where is all the money going? The answer, apparently, is that stockholders got tired of giving their profits away to both workers and executives. So they’re keeping it for themselves, as we see in reports of corporate earnings, dividend payouts, and stock buybacks. For now, anyway, the era of the superstar—and super compensated—CEO appears to be over.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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