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How Much Sunlight Does it Take to Disinfect a Boardroom? A Short History of Executive Compensation Regulation

  • Ian Dew-Becker

This paper reviews the history of executive compensation disclosure and other government policies affecting CEO pay, and as well surveys the literature on the effects of these policies. Disclosure has increased nearly uniformly since 1933. A number of other regulations, including special taxes on CEO pay and rules regarding votes on some pay packages have also been introduced, particularly in the last 20 years. However, there is little solid evidence that any of these policies have had any substantial impact on pay. Policy changes have likely helped drive the move towards more use of stock options, but there is no conclusive evidence on how policy has otherwise affected the level or composition of pay. I also review evidence from overseas on “Say on Pay,” recently proposed in the US, which would allow nonbinding shareholder votes on CEO compensation. The experiences of other countries have been positive, with tighter linkages between pay and performance and improved communication with investors. Mandatory say on pay would be beneficial in the US.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2008/wp-cesifo-2008-08/cesifo1_wp2379.pdf
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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2379.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2379
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  1. Michael Greenstone & Paul Oyer & Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, 2006. "Mandated Disclosure, Stock Returns, and the 1964 Securities Acts Amendments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(2), pages 399-460, May.
  2. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "Income Inequality In The United States, 1913-1998," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 1-39, February.
  3. Michael C. Jensen, 1994. "The Modern Industrial Revolution, Exit, And The Failure Of Internal Control Systems," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 6(4), pages 4-23.
  4. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer, 2003. "What Works in Securities Law?," NBER Working Papers 9882, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Park, Yun W & Nelson, Toni & Huson, Mark R, 2001. "Executive Pay and the Disclosure Environment: Canadian Evidence," Journal of Financial Research, Southern Finance Association;Southwestern Finance Association, vol. 24(3), pages 347-65, Fall.
  6. Dew-Becker, Ian & Gordon, Robert J, 2005. "Where did the Productivity Growth Go? Inflation Dynamics and the Distribution of Income," CEPR Discussion Papers 5419, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Lo, Kin, 2003. "Economic consequences of regulated changes in disclosure: the case of executive compensation," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 285-314, August.
  8. Yun W. Park & Toni Nelson & Mark R. Huson, 2001. "Executive Pay And The Disclosure Environment: Canadian Evidence," Journal of Financial Research, Southern Finance Association;Southwestern Finance Association, vol. 24(3), pages 347-365, 09.
  9. Carhart, Mark M, 1997. " On Persistence in Mutual Fund Performance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(1), pages 57-82, March.
  10. Ian Dew-Becker & Robert J. Gordon, 2005. "Where Did Productivity Growth Go? Inflation Dynamics and the Distribution of Income," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 36(2), pages 67-150.
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