A new study out today shows how top CEOs are walking away from their jobs with literally hundreds of millions of dollars—even after they do a crummy job. That’s wild. Gary Rivlin writes about the news today:
“You’re fired” can be the sweetest words these days when you’re the CEO of a publicly traded company. Sure, Leo Apotheker must have felt lousy when Hewlett-Packard dumped him as chief executive last September after less than a year on the job. But the sting of humiliation was no doubt softened by a $12 million cash payment the company gave him despite the lousy job he had done.
But now a new study released Wednesday shows that $12 million ain’t nothing in the age of the imperial CEO. GMI, a well-regarded research firm that monitors executive pay, looked at the largest severance packages ex-CEOs have received since the start of 2000.
To earn a spot in the top 20, a CEO would need to have received a golden parachute in excess of $100 million.
How would some of the nation’s biggest thinkers fix America? We asked 18 CEOs to weigh in. Excerpts:
T. BOONE PICKENS
MY FIX: There are 8 million 18-wheelers in the U.S., each drinking somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 gallons of diesel fuel a year. But what if new trucks ran on natural gas instead? It’s 30 percent cleaner than diesel, and more plentiful.
MY FIX: Make cars smarter. Find more uses for the wireless devices that we already use to pay tolls and get directions. We could install a “Cinderella app” that won’t allow a 16- or 85-year-old to drive past curfew, or a “Prius meter” to keep tabs on energy efficiency.
MY FIX: Here are three: (1) Increase exports by freeing up the backlog of free-trade agreements with South Korea and parts of Latin America. (2) Improve education in the sciences to make our grads more competitive. (3) Permanent corporate-tax reform.