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CEOs at S&P 500 companies got a 7% raise last year — roughly $800,000 – Montreal

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CEOs at SP 500 companies got a 7 raise last year — roughly 800000 Montreal

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NEW YORK — Did you get a 7% raise last year? Congratulations, yours was in line with what CEOs at the biggest companies got. But for chief executives, that 7% was roughly $800,000.

Pay for CEOs at S&P 500 companies rose to a median of $12 million last year, including salary, stock and other compensation, according to data analyzed by Equilar for The Associated Press. The eight-figure packages continue to rise as companies tie more of their CEOs’ pay to their stock prices, which are still near record levels, and as profits hit an all-time high last year due to lower tax bills and a still-growing economy.

READ MORE: Canada’s top CEOs will make $50K before noon on Jan. 2, report says

Pay for typical workers at these companies isn’t rising nearly as quickly. The median increase was 3% last year, less than half the growth for the top bosses. Median means half were larger, and half were smaller.

The survey showed that it would take 158 years for the typical worker at most big companies to make what their CEO did in 2018, seven years longer than if both were still at 2017 pay levels. And when top executives are already making so much more than their employees, the bigger percentage raises compound the widening financial gap.

WATCH: Crunching the wage gap numbers 





Anger about widening income inequality is rising around the world, from Capitol Hill to protests in streets. But it’s only slowly seeping into the conference rooms where boards of directors set the pay for CEOs. Boards are often more concerned with what a competitor may pay to poach their CEO than how much more that person makes versus the rest of the workforce.

“It’s a natural thing for a CEO and a board to say, ‘How are others who are doing similar work paid?’ And there’s a natural sense that if the board believes and supports their CEO, they don’t expect their CEO to be paid less than the others in the industry,” said Eric Hosken, a partner at Compensation Advisory Partners, a consulting firm that works with boards.

READ MORE: Here are the pay perks you’d enjoy if you were a CEO in Canada

Investors — the ultimate corporate bosses who have the power to vote directors off the board — also continue to vote overwhelmingly in favor of executive pay packages at the biggest companies, though the margins have been decreasing.

“There’s a belief that if we underpay our CEO, they can go work in private equity. They can go work for a competitor. They will find places to go,” Hosken said.

The AP’s CEO compensation study included pay data for 340 executives at S&P 500 companies who have served at least two full consecutive fiscal years at their companies, which filed proxy statements between Jan. 1 and April 30.

Some companies with highly paid CEOs did not fit these criteria and were excluded, such as Safra Catz and Mark Hurd, co-CEOs of Oracle. Each had compensation valued at $108.3 million last fiscal year, but Oracle usually files its proxy statement in September due to its fiscal year ending in May.

Who’s on top

Last year’s top paid executive in the survey was David Zaslav of Discovery, the media giant behind HGTV and the Food Network. His total compensation was valued at $129.5 million, up 207% from a year earlier. Like other executives at the top of the rankings, most of Zaslav’s pay is not from cash but from stock awards or option grants that he will fully benefit from only if Discovery’s share price rises in the future.

WATCH: Federal government to tackle gender wage gap and sexual harassment





Nearly 80% of Zaslav’s compensation last year came from stock options valued at $102.1 million, most of which he received as part of a new employment contract that runs through 2023. Companies often grant big options packages when top executives renew their contracts. Discovery’s stock returned 11% last year, beating the S&P 500′s loss of 4%, including dividends, and it has also beat the market since its initial public offering in 2008.

Media CEOs tend to dominate the top of the rankings for compensation, corralling as much or more in compensation as the stars who work for them. But one commonly recurring name did not make this year’s list: Leslie Moonves, whose ouster from CBS last year was one of the highest profile results of the #MeToo movement.

Disparity deepens

This is the second year that the government has required companies to show how pay for top bosses compares with the pay for their typical worker. The measure is far from perfect, mostly because companies have a lot of flexibility in how to calculate the numbers.

Comparisons between companies can also be meaningless when one has mostly part-time workers in developing countries while the other has office parks full of Ph.D.s in Silicon Valley. But now that companies have submitted two years of data, investors can see how the gap in pay is trending at individual companies.

At more than 40% of the companies in this year’s survey, the CEO’s pay rose by at least double the percentage of the median worker’s pay gain.

Across the economy, pay is climbing at a faster rate for workers, but the gains are still below where they usually are when the economy is this healthy. Average hourly pay rose 3.4% in February from a year earlier, the largest annual gain in a decade. Companies find that they have to pay more to hold on to staff after the unemployment rate dropped to a nearly 50-year low.

READ MORE: Here are the jobs with the highest — and lowest — wage growth in Canada

But the last time the jobless rate was almost this low, in the late 1990s, hourly pay rose at a 4% to 4.5% rate. Economists say several trends are holding back wage gains, including businesses facing intense pressure from online and overseas competitors. And with larger, multinational companies dominating more industries, workers have fewer alternatives to jump to in search of a raise.

“For the kind of numbers we’re seeing on the unemployment rate, or the length of the recovery, all those numbers would tell us that we’re in an incredibly good economy. But it’s not as rosy as those statistics suggest,” said Julia Coronado, an economist and president of MacroPolicy Perspectives.

A few outliers

In some industries, worker pay is closer to the CEO’s. Some tech CEOs have famously low salaries, such as Lawrence Page of Google’s parent, Alphabet, and Jack Dorsey of Twitter. Both took home a $1 salary last year, but both also own huge stakes of their companies as co-founders.

Tech companies also often pay high salaries to lure in programmers and data scientists. At Alphabet, for example, the median employee had compensation of $246,804 last year, up 25% from the year before.

WATCH: By noon, top CEOs earn same as average Canadian annual salary





High salaries of more than $100,000 are most typically found in a more staid area of the market: utilities. Most of the big utilities paid their median worker above $110,000 last year, but that may not last for long. Compensation fell for the median worker at most utilities last year.

Women, meanwhile, still remain relatively rare in the corner offices for S&P 500 companies, even though they enter U.S. companies at roughly the same rate as men. Of the 340 CEOs in this year’s survey, just 19 were women. Their median pay was $12.7 million last year, versus $11.2 million for men.

Most shareholders sign off on raises

For the most part, investors are OK with these big pay packages.

Last year, the median company in the survey received a 94% approval rate on its “Say on Pay” vote, where shareholders give a nonbinding up-or-down vote on executive compensation. That was down only slightly from 95% a year earlier.

But those high approval numbers belie increasing scrutiny of executive compensation by shareholders.

“It’s accelerating a lot,” said Rosanna Landis Weaver, researcher at As You Sow, a shareholder advocacy group. “You have scholarship showing how widening income inequality is bad for everyone, shareholders and democracy. And the myth of ‘pay for performance’ has taken a couple of blows, so people are re-examining pay.”

READ MORE: Gender gap shows a ‘double-pane’ glass ceiling for salary for female CEOs

In many cases, the dissenting voices are coming from shareholders outside the United States.

“I have the impression that here in the U.S., the culture is still — maybe rightly so — that if your CEO is successful, you are entitled to make basically as much money as you want,” said Luca Paolini, chief strategist at Pictet Asset Management, which is based in Switzerland. “In Europe, we think slightly differently. And in Japan as well. They say, ‘Ok, your company is great, you should give back something.’”

Associated Press Economics Writer Chris Rugaber in Washington contributed to this report.



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FOREIGN NEWS

Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA

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Harris accepts VP nomination

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Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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