Sunday, June 30, 2013

It's Good To Be A Corporate King

If American businesses really are being "crushed by regulatory burdens" and "driven into uncompetitiveness by massive government overreach" it sure as hell isn't being reflected in CEO pay at America's largest corporations.   While real wages for workers went down again in 2012 and have never exceeded their 1972 peak, CEO pay jumped by double digit percentages in 2012 and are now substantially above where they were even at pre-2007 financial crisis levels.

WHEN we made our annual foray into the executive pay gold mine in April, chief executives’ earnings for 2012 showed what appeared to be muted growth on the year. The $14 million in median overall compensation received by the top 100 C.E.O.’s was just a 2.8 percent increase over 2011, the figures showed. 

Well, what a difference a few months and a larger pool of C.E.O.’s make. According to an updated analysis, the top 200 chief executives at public companies with at least $1 billion in revenue actually got a big raise last year, over all. The research, conducted for Sunday Business by Equilar Inc., the executive compensation analysis firm, found that the median 2012 pay package came in at $15.1 million — a leap of 16 percent from 2011.  

And it's not just CEOs making hundreds of times the wages of average employees, other top chief-level executives are pulling in huge salaries too.

Because the data shows only chief executives’ pay, it does not reveal how good it still is to be a prince. Brian Foley, an independent compensation consultant in White Plains, pointed out that the 2012 compensation of the No. 2 executives at some of these companies would have vaulted them to the top ranks on the C.E.O. roster. 

“The interesting thing is that there are people at these companies that make as much or more than other C.E.O.’s,” Mr. Foley said. “I’m sure it’s a case of ‘Look at what the C.E.O. has; I want more of that.’ “ 

Two things that shock me here.  One, there's at least 200 US companies with more than $1 billion in revenues each year.   At the top of the heap are companies like Apple, making hundreds of billions in revenue in a year.  That easily adds up to trillions in corporate revenues, and hundreds of billions in pure profit.

Second, the other officers at some of these massive corporations, the CFO, the COO, etc are making millions each year too, in some cases more than the CEOs of smaller corporations.  That's just nuts.

Republicans and Democrats aside, these guys are the real problem.  Did you get a 16% raise last year?

I didn't think so.

Zee Germans Are Pissed

While it's ridiculous to think that the NSA isn't listening in on our friends in Europe (and equally ridiculous to assume they're not doing the same) the recent NSA stories about checking up on our neighbors has provided the excuse for EU lawmakers to score some political points at the expense of the upcoming EU-US trade talks.

Senior European lawmakers say they are shocked at reports that U.S. intelligence agents bugged EU offices on both sides of the Atlantic.

The president of the European Parliament said he was "deeply worried and shocked about the allegations of U.S. authorities spying on EU offices" made in a report published Sunday by German news weekly Der Spiegel.

Martin Schulz said if the reports were confirmed "it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on EU-U.S. relations."

Green Party leaders in the European Parliament, Rebecca Harms and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, called for an immediate investigation into reports published by Der Spiegel and suggested that further negotiations on a trans-Atlantic trade treaty be put on hold.

Given the domestic economic disaster brought on by continued EU austerity, having somebody else to slap around is a welcome relief for beleaguered European pols, and at the same time European opposition parties get to considerably raise the price tag of any trade deal with the US.  Politics is politics the world over at times.

We'll see what Germany wants in return for this, as they're still the big dog on the EU block, but I'm betting it's going to be substantial trade concessions from the US that are probably going to hurt jobs here.

Something to keep in mind when thinking about consequences.

Chris Hayes Couldn't Be More Naive On The GOP And Immigration

By now you're well aware of my feelings on immigration legislation as the Senate bill passed this week with 68 votes.  I absolutely want the Senate bill to pass the House, and that there's no way in hell it will as the House GOP will most likely fail to pass any legislation, leading to the bill's ignominious death (and the consequences of that for the GOP as they galvanize into the party of white privilege.)

One person who absolutely doesn't believe the GOP is this suicidal is MSNBC's Chris Hayes of All In.

Hayes believes that liberals like myself who think the House GOP will kill the bill are "supplying an excuse for the Republican caucus to do something inexcusable".  He believes Boehner's bluster is "staking out a negotiation position in which there's no wiggle room."  In fact, Hayes gets very close to saying that should the bill fail, liberals who bought into the narrative that it was doomed in the House to begin with are culpable for its failure.

To which I respond to Hayes's startling naivete with, of all things, Sarah Palin, who is now openly warning about a third party split if the GOP passes immigration reform.

The former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican nominee for vice president responded to a Fox viewer’s Twitter question Saturday about the possibility of her and conservative commenter Mark Levin leaving the Republican Party and creating a new political group called the 'Freedom Party.'

Palin hinted that she is open to the thought of going independent and said that if the GOP continues to stray from its conservative roots, others in the party would do the same.

'I love the name of that party — the "Freedom Party,"' Palin replied. 'And if the GOP continues to back away from the planks in our platform, from the principles that built this party of Lincoln and Reagan, then yeah, more and more of us are going to start saying, "You know, what’s wrong with being independent," kind of with that libertarian streak that much of us have.

'In other words, we want government to back off and not infringe upon our rights. I think there will be a lot of us who start saying "GOP, if you abandon us, we have nowhere else to go except to become more independent and not enlisted in a one or the other private majority parties that rule in our nation, either a Democrat or a Republican."

So Chris, given John Boehner's  massive incompetence as House Speaker, which is more likely, a masterful compromise on the immigration bill, or a complete fold to the Sarah Palin Tea Party wing and killing the bill exactly like they did in 2006?  If this is the reaction to Boehner after he's staked out the position that the Senate bill is DOA, and that he'll be trying to only push piecemeal border security and E-Verify measures, what makes you think, given Boehner's complete inability to pass a Farm Bill that he can pull this off?

They will blow this.  It will be their fault.  They'll pay for it in 2014 and 2016.  The only question is what that eventual cost will be.
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