The Secret Lives of CEOs

by Derek Loosvelt | November 12, 2007

The past few weeks haven't been easy for those at the top of org charts. A November 1st profile of Bear Stearns' head honcho James Cayne in The Wall Street Journal alleged that, among other things, the CEO had chosen to play golf and bridge rather than look after his ailing company, and has been known to toke on funny cigarettes from time to time. A few days earlier, following Merrill Lynch CEO Stan O'Neal's resignation amid Merrill's higher-than-expected losses due to the subprime fallout, details of that fallen chief's personal life began to surface, including such dirty ones as he likes to play golf alone. And last week, after Citi CEO Charles Prince was forced to kiss his job good-bye due to similar reasons, allegations that Prince had made a few months ago concerning very close relations between a CNBC reporter and another Citi banker began to resurface.

Today, a piece in The Deal revisited these details (and others) about Wall Street bigwigs that the financial media has recently covered, asking if journalists have been just doing their jobs in writing about such details or if they've resorted to digging up tabloid dirt purely for sensationalistic reasons.

Meanwhile, The New York Times ran an article today about CEOs' salaries, focusing on the fallen Charles Prince's $12.5 million payout that just went public (and that pales in comparison to Stan O'Neal's $161.5-million exit package).

And if you're wondering how these and other CEOs continue to bank such large amounts of cash even as their companies slide (or slid) into the red, a recent New Yorker article sheds light on the phenomena. This piece not only addresses how CEOs are paid, focusing on monetary incentives tied to taking large risks, but also explains that these "financial whizzes made bad decisions in part because that’s what they were paid to do."

Filed Under: Finance


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