Stock options pad CEOs’ pockets

March 26, 2015

It’s hard to think of a better topic to troll populist rage than executive compensation. A Google News search for “CEO pay” yields about 20,000,000 results, including a new analysis by Reuters that’s sure to add to the ire.

In 2013, the median, weekly wage for full-time American workers was $776, while the median yearly pay for a S&P 500 CEO hit $10.8 million—over $200,000 per week. But that’s just estimated pay; as this Reuters graphic shows, the average realized pay for S&P CEOs was $15.9 million last year, owing to the stock market’s long bull run.


The roughly 300 CEOs who led their companies from 2009 to 2013 realized about $22 billion in total compensation during that time. That’s $73 million each, with Gilead Sciences CEO John Martin raking in $400.6 million over that span—and that number could balloon to over $600 million with the exercising of stock options this summer. The $366 million that Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has realized is triple his $97 million reported compensation, thanks to the 931 percent increase his company’s stock has seen since 2008.

A provision in the Dodd-Frank financial integrity law dictates that public companies disclose the CEO-to-median-worker pay ratio, but the Securities and Exchange Commission has been dragging its feet setting the relevant rule.



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