Wall Street Cracks Down on Bloated CEO Pay (Yes, That's a Joke)

Merrill Lynch, after an $8.4 billion writedown on subprime mortgages, let CEO Stanley O'Neal retire rather than resign, so he could walk away from the job with $161.5 million. And that left Merrill flat broke when it came to paying a new CEO, right? Er, no:

It is too soon to know whether John A. Thain, who now has the top spot, can restore Merrill's former glory. But thanks in large part to a hefty sign-on bonus, he was the highest-paid executive in [a recent executive compensation] survey, with a compensation package that totaled almost $83.8 million.
Whew! For a minute there I thought Merrill might respond to a multi-billion-dollar loss by forcing its new CEO to settle for a measly $20 or $30 million. But I guess that would be un-American! So, not to worry.

Oh, but I'm being too negative, as usual. This comes from an article in today's New York Times that says CEO pay packages are actually becoming more realistic, with real penalties if goals aren't met.

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