The rich are getting richer -- and everybody knows it.
In tribute to this New Gilded Age, we humbly offer a new feature: The Excess Files, featuring outrageous CEO pay and the latest news about the lifestyles of the rich...and the super rich.
This week was rich (bad pun intended) with examples:
It's Good to Be the King: The income of the top 0.1% of American earners -- aka 'the super rich' - has quadrupled since 1981, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. And from 1981 to 2012, the share of income taken in by the top 1% of Americans more than doubled.
So how are the rest of us doing? Median U.S. household income has risen a mere 10% since 1981 on an inflation-adjusted basis -- and is down over 8% from its 2007 peak, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Rewarding Failure: Cheniere Energy CEO Charif Souki received a whopping $142 million last year, the largest pay package for an American CEO, according to Equilar. To be sure, Cheniere Energy shares more than doubled in 2013 but the company has lost money every year since its founding in 1996, The WSJ reports, and hasn't yet reached its goal of exporting U.S. natural gas. Can you imagine what Souki's pay will be when they do?
Riding Into the Sunset, In Style: Ending months of speculation, Alan Mulally on Wednesday announced his retirement from Ford. Mulally is largely credited with steering Ford through the 2008 crisis without having to take a bailout -- and has been richly rewarded for his efforts. According to CNN Money, Mulally has amassed nearly $300 million worth of Ford shares and options during his 7.5-year tenure at the company. And that's after accounting for the cost of exercising those options and in addition to the over $44 million he's earned at Ford in salary and cash bonuses. With roughly $345 million in total pay, Mulally could buy about 14,000 Ford F-150 trucks...the base model, of course.
The Oracle Flip Flops: Ahead of Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting, Warren Buffett made news this week for boldly declaring his opposition to Coca-Cola's compensation plan for its executives. Buffett may indeed shame Coke into changing its plan, which features 340 million new shares and options worth $24 billion at current prices. In the past, he has called such options-based plans "lottery tickets" and has frequently spoken out against excessive pay packages.
But the 'Oracle of Omaha' didn't join David Winters' effort to reject the plan at Coke's annual shareholder meeting, when he could have forced a change and might have swayed other shareholders into joining the opposition. If silence is consent, Buffet was for the compensation plan before he was against it.
What, They Should Fly Coach? Finally, personal use of corporate jets by CEOs is making a comeback after some corporations took the perk away following the financial crisis. "Gone is the outrage at CEOs flying in high style that peaked during the recession," Bloomberg reports.
The outrage is gone? Really? I'm still outraged. How about you?