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Executive Excess 2015: Money to Burn

Thursday, September 10, 2015 By Sarah Anderson, Sam Pizzigati and Chuck Collins, Inequality.org | Report
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This report reveals how our CEO pay system rewards executives for deepening the global climate crisis, based on in-depth analysis of the 30 largest publicly held US oil, gas, and coal companies.

Key findings:

  • Beating the S&P 500 average: CEOs of these 30 largest fossil fuel companies averaged $14.7 million in total 2014 compensation, over 9 percent more than the S&P 500 CEO average. 

  • Five years, $6 billion: These firms' management teams have taken home $6 billion over the past five years. That would be enough to weatherize 3.3 million homes or double the $3 billion U.S. pledge to the Green Climate Fund, a new institution to help vulnerable nations address climate change.

  • Short-termism: Most CEO compensation comes in the form of options and stock grants, a pay stream that encourages a fixation on pumping up share prices. Executives at distressed coal companies Peabody and Alpha Natural Resources cashed in stock options worth $47 million and $33 million, respectively, in the four years before their industry began to implode.

  • Buybacks: In 2014, 23 of the top 30 fossil fuel companies spent a combined $38.5 billion on share repurchases. That was six times global corporate spending on research into renewable energy that year.  Buybacks artificially inflate share prices, which, in turn, inflates executives' stock-based pay. 

  • Pay for non-performance: The top 10 publicly held U.S. coal companies have also been increasing their cash-based executivepay as their share prices have been plummeting. When paychecks grow even as businesses sink, executives have little incentiveto shift to a new energy future.

  • Bonus incentives: All 13 oil producers on our list of 30 major U.S. fossil-fuel corporations reward executives for expanding carbon reserves.

  • Retirement security: Top fossil fuel executives have accumulated company-provided retirement assets worth a combined $1.2 billion at the same time their indifference to environmental degradation has been putting the futures of ordinary people at risk.

This year's IPS Executive Excess report, the 22nd annual, also includes an updated scorecard that rates recently enacted and proposed CEO pay reforms.

Read the full report (PDF).

Explore all Executive Excess reports from 1994 onward.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Sarah Anderson

Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Chuck Collins

Sam Pizzigati

Institute for Policy Studies Associate Fellow Sam Pizzigati co-edits Inequality.org. His most recent book is The Rich Don't Always Win: The Forgotten Triumph over Plutocracy that Created the American Middle Class, 1900-1970.

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By James Kwak, The Baseline Scenario | News Analysis
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Executive Excess 2015: Money to Burn

Thursday, September 10, 2015 By Sarah Anderson, Sam Pizzigati and Chuck Collins, Inequality.org | Report
  • font size decrease font size decrease font size increase font size increase font size
  • Print

This report reveals how our CEO pay system rewards executives for deepening the global climate crisis, based on in-depth analysis of the 30 largest publicly held US oil, gas, and coal companies.

Key findings:

  • Beating the S&P 500 average: CEOs of these 30 largest fossil fuel companies averaged $14.7 million in total 2014 compensation, over 9 percent more than the S&P 500 CEO average. 

  • Five years, $6 billion: These firms' management teams have taken home $6 billion over the past five years. That would be enough to weatherize 3.3 million homes or double the $3 billion U.S. pledge to the Green Climate Fund, a new institution to help vulnerable nations address climate change.

  • Short-termism: Most CEO compensation comes in the form of options and stock grants, a pay stream that encourages a fixation on pumping up share prices. Executives at distressed coal companies Peabody and Alpha Natural Resources cashed in stock options worth $47 million and $33 million, respectively, in the four years before their industry began to implode.

  • Buybacks: In 2014, 23 of the top 30 fossil fuel companies spent a combined $38.5 billion on share repurchases. That was six times global corporate spending on research into renewable energy that year.  Buybacks artificially inflate share prices, which, in turn, inflates executives' stock-based pay. 

  • Pay for non-performance: The top 10 publicly held U.S. coal companies have also been increasing their cash-based executivepay as their share prices have been plummeting. When paychecks grow even as businesses sink, executives have little incentiveto shift to a new energy future.

  • Bonus incentives: All 13 oil producers on our list of 30 major U.S. fossil-fuel corporations reward executives for expanding carbon reserves.

  • Retirement security: Top fossil fuel executives have accumulated company-provided retirement assets worth a combined $1.2 billion at the same time their indifference to environmental degradation has been putting the futures of ordinary people at risk.

This year's IPS Executive Excess report, the 22nd annual, also includes an updated scorecard that rates recently enacted and proposed CEO pay reforms.

Read the full report (PDF).

Explore all Executive Excess reports from 1994 onward.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Sarah Anderson

Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Chuck Collins

Sam Pizzigati

Institute for Policy Studies Associate Fellow Sam Pizzigati co-edits Inequality.org. His most recent book is The Rich Don't Always Win: The Forgotten Triumph over Plutocracy that Created the American Middle Class, 1900-1970.

Related Stories

CEO Salary Justification Season Is Open
By James Kwak, The Baseline Scenario | News Analysis
CEOs Being Paid for Poor Performance
By Sam Pizzigati, Other Words | Op-Ed
CEOs Against Grandmas
By Sarah Anderson, OtherWords | Op-Ed