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CEO Pay and Firm Size: an Update after the Crisis

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  • Xavier Gabaix
  • Augustin Landier
  • Julien Sauvagnat

Abstract

In the "size of stakes" view quantitatively formalized in Gabaix and Landier (2008), CEO compensation is determined in a competitive talent market, and reflects the size of firms affected by talent. This paper offers an empirical update on this view. The years 2004-2011, which include the recent crisis, were not part of the initial study and offer a laboratory to examine the theory as they include new positive and negative shocks to the size of large firms. Executive compensation at the top (ex ante) did closely track the evolution of average firm value during those years. During the crisis (2007 - 2009), average total firm value decreased by 17%, and CEO pay decreased by 28%. During 2009-2011, we observe a rebound of firm value by 19% and of CEO pay increased by 22%. These fairly proportional changes provide a validity check in favor of the "size of stakes" view.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19078.

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Date of creation: May 2013
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Publication status: published as Xavier Gabaix & Augustin Landier & Julien Sauvagnat, 2014. "CEO Pay and Firm Size: An Update After the Crisis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(574), pages F40-F59, 02.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19078

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  1. Cadman, Brian & Carter, Mary Ellen & Hillegeist, Stephen, 2010. "The incentives of compensation consultants and CEO pay," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 263-280, April.
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  18. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf'S Law For Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767, August.
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