Recon: Executive Perks

  • In 2004, the average salary for top CEOs was $11.8 million, 431 times that of the average worker; in 1980, it was 42 times more.
  • Last year, top executives got an average raise of 15%, while workers got 2.9%.
  • 23% of CEO pay—some $26 billion—is tied to cash bonuses.
  • Among companies where execs get 92% or more of their pay in stock-option gains, about one-fifth will cook the books within five years.
  • Wal-Mart’s CEO earned $12.6 million in cash and $4.5 million in stock options last year; Costco’s CEO got $578,000 in cash and $25.3 million in stock. Costco’s $16-an-hour starting wage—two-thirds more than Wal-Mart’s average wage—has been criticized by Wall Street analysts as “overly generous.” 
  • The president of Morgan Stanley quit after 15 weeks with $32 million, or $26,666 an hour, if he worked 80-hour weeks.
  • Chief executives in the struggling auto industry have a median income of $4.2 million, up 72% from 2003.
  • Viacom gave its top exec a 58% raise even as its stock fell 18% last year.
  • Among the perks of the J. Paul Getty Trust’s CEO: a $72,000 Porsche SUV with the “biggest possible sunroof.” Among his staff’s duties: finding his wife “her Tropicana blood orange juice, no pulp, not from concentrate,” which she “saw in Europe.”
  • Martha Stewart once expensed haircuts, coffee, snacks, and a $17,000 trip to Mexico.
  • In 1997, Delta Air Lines agreed to pay its departing CEO a $500,000 annual “consulting salary” for eight years, on top of $4.5 million in severance, a company car, private-club dues, and a secretary.
  • Jack Welch’s perks from General Electric included wine, vitamins, and toiletries for life.


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