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Executive compensation packages

Updated: Saturday, August 3, 2013
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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The numbers are in, and they say that while unemployment rates remain high here in Michigan and across the country, executive pay keeps soaring.

Tonight, in Tom’s Corner, Tom Van Howe wonders how anyone can make the argument anymore that “we’re all in this together.”

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I have no objection to people being paid what they're worth.

Everybody wants that. Whether you’re making pickles in Holland, car parts in Grand Rapids, or working a checkout counter in Kalamazoo.

Trouble is, according to statistics, workers today are taking home less in real weekly wages than they did in the 1970s.

Meantime, Chief Executives of the 200 biggest public companies in the United States are doing somewhat better.

Their median compensation clocks in a something more than $15-million dollars a year—a 16 percent jump from the year before, eight times what it was in the 50s, and double what it was in the 90s.

The late Peter Drucker, a prolific author whose writings contributed greatly to the philosophical and practical foundation of the modern business corporation, said that once the pay ration exceeds 25 to 1, it becomes hard for management to make the case that 'we’re all in this together.' Particularly,” he said, “when it’s clear that company leaders have isolated themselves from any risk.”

In other words, if the company goes down the tubes, for bad management, or any other reason, they’ll walk away with their millions, smile, and ask “what’s next.” Not so for even the most loyal workers.

Modern corporate practice has left Drucker’s philosophy in the dust.

Talk about a disconnect!

Today’s executives are earning 200 to 500 times what their lowest paid workers are making. The word obscene pops in my mind.

In an editorial on Sunday, the New York Times asked if CEOs are overpaid, or worth every penny.

And while it didn’t really answer the question, it said we need more detail about the obvious gaps in pay because it could help policy makers and economists detect emerging asset bubbles and impending crashes, which generally correlate with rising income disparities.

But corporations resist offering such detailed information—even though the law says they must—because, they say, somewhat cynically, that coming up with it is a statistical nightmare.

These giant corporations are publicly held, which means management has to answer to stockholders.

But much of that stock is held by investment funds and managed accounts and its not likely that Harry and Mary Hotchkiss from Poughkeepsie are going to raise a fuss over compensation packages.

It's very likely they don’t even know they have any stock in this company or that one.

And that leaves a highly-paid board of directors—many of whom are there because they are like minded—to set the salaries, bonuses, benefits, stock and option grants.

It’s a club—a club of well compensated people making sure they all stay well compensated.

It's not a matter of what someone needs, it’s a matter of keeping score. It’s a club thing.

For the record, large companies in Europe often have worker representatives on their boards as a check against bloated pay packages.
 
Just for the sake of discussion, lets pretend the CEO at company “x” chose to take just $3 million a year instead of the median $15 million; he might have to sell his house in the Hamptons, or maybe one of his jets.
 
But there would be enough left over to give 600 employees raises of $20,000. Think of the ripples that would have on a local economy. If everyone did that, think about the ripples across the country.

I know that’s not going to happen. Wishful thinking. But it would go a long, long way toward establishing the thought that we, as working, caring, industrious Americans really are all in this together.

In this corner... I’m Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on August 04, 2015 17:10 GMT

FACTORY ORDERS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Orders to U.S. factories increased in June, driven by a big gain in commercial airplanes. A key category that reflects business investment plans posted a modest rise.

The Commerce Department says factory orders advanced 1.8 percent in the month. The jump reflected a surge in demand for commercial aircraft, an often volatile sector.

A key category that serves as a proxy for business investment plans edged up 0.7 percent after declines in April and June. In the first half of the year, demand in the investment category is down 3.5 percent from the same period a year ago.

Manufacturing has been held back this year by a rising dollar, which dampens demand for exports, and falling oil prices, which have cut into energy industry investment spending.

EARNS-FREDDIC MAC

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mortgage giant Freddie Mac reports net income of $4.2 billion for the second quarter, up sharply from the same period of 2014, as it increased its purchases of home loans and sold off greater volumes of riskier mortgages.

The April-through-June results posted today marks the government-controlled company's 15th straight profitable quarter. Freddie also benefited from rising interest rates.

The McLean, Virginia, company will pay a dividend of $3.9 billion to the U.S. Treasury next month. Freddie will have paid $96.5 billion in dividends, exceeding its government bailout of $71 billion.

The government rescued Freddie and larger sibling Fannie Mae at the height of the financial crisis in September 2008, after they suffered huge losses from risky mortgages in the housing market bust.

DELTA AIR LINES-TRAFFIC

ATLANTA (AP) -- Delta says traffic is up from last year but a key revenue measure is down, indicating that fares are likely declining from last summer.

The airline says revenue is being hurt by the strong dollar, lower fuel surcharges on international routes, and lower prices in some U.S. markets.

Delta Air Lines Inc. says passenger revenue for every seat flown one mile fell 3 percent last month compared with July 2014. Delta filled a higher percentage of seats than last summer, so it's likely that the drop in the closely watched revenue figure means average fares were lower.

The decline is not a surprise. Analysts have worried that after several years of holding down supply, airlines are adding flights and seats too quickly, causing prices to fall.

TOY RECALL

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Manhattan Group is recalling about 2,800 My Snuggly Ellie activity toys because a wooden ring can break into small pieces, posing a choking hazard.

The company has received one report of the wooden ring breaking. No injuries have been reported. But consumers are advised to immediately take the toy away from young children.

Approximately 2,700 of the toys were sold in the U.S. and 100 were sold in Canada.

The plush brown elephant toy has white crinkle ears. There is a green hanging loop on top of the elephant toy's head so that it can be attached to a stroller or crib. There is a mini mirror on the elephant toy's stomach, while a teether and a wooden ring hangs below its body.

The item number is 212520, which can be found on the small white tag sewn into the bottom of the toy.

ATM FEES-LAWSUIT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit accusing MasterCard, Visa and three major banks of illegally fixing ATM prices at the expense of consumers.

The federal appeals court in Washington ruled today that a group of consumers and independent ATM operators could pursue antitrust claims against the companies.

A federal district judge had thrown out the lawsuit in 2013 after finding the plaintiffs failed to show any conspiracy to overcharge consumers.

But the appeals court said challengers could argue that the payment processors coordinated with Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. to adopt anticompetitive fees.

The lawsuit claims the companies impose contract terms preventing independent ATM operators from charging less when consumers use debit cards that can tap cheaper processing networks.

EARNS-KELLOGG

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) -- Kellogg says its U.S. cereal division saw another decline in quarterly sales but that trends in the category were improving.

The maker of Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops and Kashi is trying to revamp the marketing for its cereals as Americans reach for other breakfast options, like Greek yogurt and fast food. One strategy has been trying to reposition Special K to be more in line with changing health trends.

For the quarter, Kellogg Co. said sales in its flagship U.S. Morning Foods segment fell 2.3 percent when stripping out the impact of currency exchange rates and other one-time factors. Its international division was hit by unfavorable exchange rates.

Profit fell to $223 million, or 63 cents per share.

EARNS-AETNA

UNDATED (AP) -- Aetna's second-quarter earnings jumped 33 percent and the health insurer raised its 2015 forecast again after receiving a boost from a government business it plans to feed with a $35 billion acquisition.

Shares of the Hartford, Connecticut-based company started climbing today before markets opened and after it released results.

Aetna said Thursday that higher underwriting margins or improved profitability helped balance a jump in operating costs. The nation's third-largest health insurer easily topped Wall Street expectations.

For the second quarter, Aetna brought in $731.8 million. That compares with $548.8 million last year. Adjusted results in this year's quarter totaled $2.05 per share.

Health insurance is Aetna's main product, but the company also sells dental, group life and disability coverage. The company announced last month that it would buy rival insurer Humana Inc., the nation's second-largest provider of federally funded Medicare Advantage plans.

EARNS-CVS HEALTH

UNDATED (AP) -- Pricey specialty drugs helped CVS Health cope with tobacco withdrawal to top analyst expectations in the second quarter.

The nation's second-largest drugstore chain says revenue from its biggest business, the pharmacy benefits management segment, jumped 12 percent to more than $24 billion, spurred in part by specialty drugs.

Specialty drugs are complex medications that treat certain forms of cancer, multiple sclerosis and hepatitis C, among other conditions.

Overall, CVS Health earnings climbed 2 percent to $1.27 billion in the second quarter while revenue rose more than 7 percent to $37.17 billion. Adjusted earnings came to $1.22 per share.

SHIRE-ACQUISITION

NEW YORK (AP) -- Irish drugmaker Shire PLC Is offering to buy Baxalta Inc. for about $30 billion in stock in a move to solidify its position in rare disease treatments.

Deerfield, Illinois-based Baxalta was spun off of Baxter International Inc. in July and focuses on bleeding disorders. Dublin-based Shire makes treatments for a range of conditions including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, epilepsy and hunter syndrome.

In a statement, Shire urged Baxalta to engage in negotiations. It made the offer to the company on July 10 and said the offer implies a value of $45.23 per share, a 36 percent premium for Baxalta.

Shares of Baxalta rose more than 20 percent to $40.10 in premarketing trading. Shire's stock fell nearly 3 percent to $260.92.

GENERAL MOTORS-PLANT INVESTMENT

FLINT, Michigan (AP) -- General Motors says it's investing $877 million to upgrade an assembly plant in Flint.

The company plans to build a new, 883,000-square-foot body shop for Flint Assembly, which makes full-size pickups for the Chevrolet and GMC brands.

The new body shop will be closer to the Flint Metal Center, which supplies sheet metal to the plant. Construction is expected to begin in early 2016 and finish in 2018.

Flint Assembly, which opened in 1947, is GM's oldest plant in North America. GM says the upgrade will reduce the time and cost to ship parts between the two plants.

PAYPAL-UNITED CONTINENTAL-CFO

NEW YORK (AP) -- PayPal says it has hired United Airlines chief financial officer John Rainey for the same position at the payments company.

Rainey has been United's CFO for the past three years.

Last month, PayPal split from eBay Inc. into a separate publicly traded company. Rainey will join the San Jose, California, company on Aug. 24. He will replace Patrick Dupuis, who will stay at the company as a senior vice president.

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