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CEO Pay and Firm Size: an Update after the Crisis

  • Xavier Gabaix
  • Augustin Landier
  • Julien Sauvagnat

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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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w19078.pdf
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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
Note: CF LS
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  1. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf's Law for Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767.
  2. Murphy, Kevin J. & Sandino, Tatiana, 2010. "Executive pay and "independent" compensation consultants," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 247-262, April.
  3. Bereskin, Frederick L. & Cicero, David C., 2013. "CEO compensation contagion: Evidence from an exogenous shock," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 477-493.
  4. Ulrike Malmendier & Geoffrey Tate, 2009. "Superstar CEOs," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1593-1638.
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  6. Camelia M. Kuhnen & Andrea L. Eisfeldt, 2010. "CEO Turnover in a Competitive Assignment Framework," 2010 Meeting Papers 1081, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. Xavier Gabaix & Rustam Ibragimov, 2007. "Rank-1/2: A Simple Way to Improve the OLS Estimation of Tail Exponents," NBER Technical Working Papers 0342, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Thomas Lemieux & W. Bentley MacLeod & Daniel Parent, 2009. "Performance Pay and Wage Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(1), pages 1-49.
  9. Benjamin E. Hermalin, 2005. "Trends in Corporate Governance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(5), pages 2351-2384, October.
  10. Steven N. Kaplan & Joshua Rauh, 2007. "Wall Street and Main Street: What Contributes to the Rise in the Highest Incomes?," NBER Working Papers 13270, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Xavier Gabaix & Augustin Landier, 2006. "Why Has CEO Pay Increased So Much?," NBER Working Papers 12365, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Michael Faulkender & Jun Yang, 2013. "Is Disclosure an Effective Cleansing Mechanism? The Dynamics of Compensation Peer Benchmarking," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 26(3), pages 806-839.
  13. Anil Shivdasani & David Yermack, 1999. "CEO Involvement in the Selection of New Board Members: An Empirical Analysis," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(5), pages 1829-1853, October.
  14. Yonca Ertimur & Fabrizio Ferri & David Oesch, 2013. "Shareholder Votes and Proxy Advisors: Evidence from Say on Pay," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(5), pages 951-996, December.
  15. Carola Frydman & Raven E. Saks, 2008. "Executive Compensation: A New View from a Long-Term Perspective, 1936-2005," NBER Working Papers 14145, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Marko Tervio, 2008. "The Difference That CEOs Make: An Assignment Model Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 642-68, June.
  17. Alex Edmans & Xavier Gabaix, 2011. "The Effect of Risk on the CEO Market," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 24(8), pages 2822-2863.
  18. Sattinger, Michael, 1993. "Assignment Models of the Distribution of Earnings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 831-80, June.
  19. Alex Edmans & Xavier Gabaix & Augustin Landier, 2009. "A Multiplicative Model of Optimal CEO Incentives in Market Equilibrium," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(12), pages 4881-4917, December.
  20. Gabaix, Xavier & Ibragimov, Rustam, 2011. "Rank − 1 / 2: A Simple Way to Improve the OLS Estimation of Tail Exponents," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 29(1), pages 24-39.
  21. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2001. "Are CEOs Rewarded for Luck? The Ones Without Principals Are," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(3), pages 901-932.
  22. Kevin J. Murphy & Ján Zábojník, 2004. "CEO Pay and Appointments: A Market-Based Explanation for Recent Trends," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 192-196, May.
  23. Lucian Bebchuk & Yaniv Grinstein, 2005. "The Growth of Executive Pay," NBER Working Papers 11443, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Brian J. Hall, 1999. "The Design Of Multi-Year Stock Option Plans," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 12(2), pages 97-106.
  25. Erzo G. J. Luttmer, 2007. "Selection, Growth, and the Size Distribution of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1103-1144.
  26. Bizjak, John & Lemmon, Michael & Nguyen, Thanh, 2011. "Are all CEOs above average? An empirical analysis of compensation peer groups and pay design," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(3), pages 538-555, June.
  27. 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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