A select group of the nation’s corporate chief executives has been paid far more than their performance warranted, according to a compensation analysis released Wednesday.
Twenty years after the Institute for Policy Studies began taking critical annual looks at CEO pay in the nation’s largest companies, researchers reviewed the personal and corporate histories of 241 executives who have appeared on past highest-paid lists.
The title of the 2013 report reveals disappointment — “Bailed Out. Booted. Busted.”
Nearly 40 percent of the men who appeared on lists ranking America’s 25 highest-paid corporate leaders between 1993 and 2012 have led companies bailed out by U.S. taxpayers, been fired for poor performance or led companies charged with fraud-related activities.
“This report should put an end to any remaining sense that we have ‘pay for performance’ in corporate America,” said Sarah Anderson, co-author of all 20 of the institute’s annual executive compensation reports.
The pay gap between large-company CEOs and average American employees has vaulted from 195 to 1 in 1993 to 354 to 1 in 2012, according to data published by BusinessWeek and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The institute, which describes itself as a progressive think tank that “promotes democracy and challenges concentrated wealth,” reviewed such CEOs as:
• Hank McKinnell, who received $198 million in pay and retirement benefits from Pfizer after a five-year tenure during which the pharmaceutical company’s stock price plunged 40 percent.
• Richard Fuld, who garnered top 25 CEO pay status for eight years running before his company, Lehman Brothers, failed in 2008, the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history.
• Sanford Weill, whose compensation totaled $1.5 billion in 13 years as CEO of Travelers and subsequently Citigroup.