Let’s say you are the chief executive officer of a formerly strong financial company. Either your company has faltered under your leadership or you’ve managed to steer clear of toxic assets but the slumping economy has affected you. Or perhaps you are newly hired, brought in to oversee a struggling shell of a company as it tries to regain its stature.
Either your company desperately needed the funds it has received from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) or the business was competitively forced to take the handout because you wanted your company to stay on par with your peers who were bailed out.
Now President Obama wants to limit your compensation to a measley $500,000. No fair, right?
It makes sense to limit executive pay when taxpayers have stepped in to propr up your balance sheet, whether the company needed the money or not. But it’s largely symbolic, like when CEOs declare they will reduce their salary to $1 per year. They can do that for two reasons: they’ve already made a fortune, and they’ll continue to make a fortune thanks to stock options, deferred compensation, and other perks worth millions of dollars.
Obama says the CEOs can continue to be compensated above and beyond $500,000 through company stock, restricted from sale until the TARP obligations are complete and the government has been paid. This is a great deal; financial stocks have been pummeled. They may go lower, but this built-in waiting period will almost ensure that CEOs stand to win in the long-run.
What do you think about this $500,000 “limit?”