Sunday, November 11, 2007

Excessive Speaking Fees for Bill Clinton?

According to the Washington Post, Bill Clinton earned $31 million in speaking fees between 2001 and 2005, as disclosed in his wife's Senate ethics reports. The chart above (click to enlarge) lists the amount Bill Clinton earned for 43 speeches he gave in 2005.

Working less than one day a week, Bill Clinton earned almost $7.5 million in 2005, making an average of about $174,000 per one-hour speech. In other words, Bill Clinton earns more in one hour than the average American makes in about 6 years ($29,544 per year), and certainly earns much on an hourly basis than the average CEO of a large corporation, who probably has to work 50-60 hours per week to earn $10.8 million per year on average in salary and bonuses in 2007.

According to this report from Social Funds, "While Americans have been concerned about the widening pay gap for years, what is different now is that this concern is beginning to impact lawmakers. Several bills addressing executive pay are pending in the House and the issue is gaining the attention of some high profile politicians, including Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton."

Just wondering... if the Clintons are so concerned about excessive CEO pay, why is Bill Clinton charging $174,000 per hour to give speeches, in addition to receiving an annual pension of $186,000 from the government? Or if Clinton is just charging "whatever the market will bear" for his speaking services, how is that different than highly-skilled managers charging "whatever the market will bear" for their managerial services?

10 Comments:

At 11/12/2007 5:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clinton is charging that much because the market is willing to pay it. What's your point?

 
At 11/12/2007 7:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe you had to ask...the point being if Clinton charges what he charges because he knows that's what the market is willing to pay, then why does his party continue to rail against CEO pay (which is much smaller) as if they don't understand why they make what they make, for working 100 times harder.

 
At 11/12/2007 8:58 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

I don’t have any problems with what someone like former President Bill Clinton makes; however, CEO pay is not primarily based on a free market system.

CEO pay is determined by executive pay committees of members who are often appointed by the CEO, or a board member who is an executive or CEO of another company. Sweet deal: Isn’t it? Let’s try the same thing. If you sit on my committee and determine my pay, I will sit and your committee and determine your pay. Obviously, company performance will not be a requisite to pay using this buddy system.

Anyone who believes this is not happening has not been keeping themselves abreast of the latest financial news. Just read the front page of any financial paper or the WSJ to see the executive pay to company performance disparity. Let’s kick the poor performing CEO to the street just like other poor performing or unneeded employees instead of giving them a “golden parachute.” That’s the real free market system in action.

 
At 11/12/2007 9:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would you insinuate that company performance isn't a requisite? Perhaps it just seems that way when a CEO is given a high starting pay, but they certainly won't keep their pay or their job if company performance continues to lag.

The position of CEO is a high-risk, highly public position that requires an incredible amount of time, work and decision making that can affect hundreds of thousands or even millions of people if you count shareholders as well as customers and employees. Why would we not want to attract the best of the best by starting them out with high salaries, especially if we think they are going to help turn around an underperforming company?

 
At 11/12/2007 10:16 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

I'm not insinuating anything. Knowledgeable financial writers from prestigious publications are. Pick up a Wall Street Journal or Google reputable sources for yourself. I suggest search words such as “executive pay committee” or “backdating options” to start your research. If CEO pay is determined by the free-market system, I guess I don’t understand free markets.

I agree that successful CEOs are worth what they make, but I don’t believe that unsuccessful CEOs should be paid outrageous amounts of money and benefits to leave. Doesn’t that violate the economics’ “incentive” law as well as the free-market system principle?

I believe former President Clinton fits a traditional free-market model—unless Hillary is on the committee to hire him, but I don’t believe that the U.S. executive pay model fits the same type of free-market model as it is currently designed. You can decide for yourself.

 
At 11/12/2007 2:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that he is able to garner speaking fees because of ideological biases in the organizations that he speaks to. Also, inflated fees help him pay off his debts from his past legal misdeeds. The man is a pathological liar, but there are many people who love him, support him, and are willing to pay money to see his smug mug spout more lies to perpetuate the myth of his greatness. It is all quite puzzling, and could be a great thesis for the dysfunction of the American political system.

skh.pcola

 
At 11/12/2007 7:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess the way I see it, CEOs aren't exactly out there on every street corner; there are very few people who are suitable or even willing to take on that kind of public responsibility, thus already setting the market for that position high. I mean if someone became CEO and had a very public failure, that's pretty much it for their career as they knew it before they became CEO.

Therefore, in order to convince someone to become CEO and make the extra risk worth his while, extra incentives are put on the table, such as a buy-out clause or a "golden parachute" as you call it. Given that this is put in there as incentive to even take on the difficult task of being the CEO, I don't see how that is in anyway against free-market principals.

 
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At 5/19/2009 6:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read that Slick Willie is going to Haiti. Bye Bye - be careful of the religions there that believe in human sacrifice. Don't worry about Hillary - Mr Pelosi and her will make a great couple especially since same sex marriages are now allowed in several states!!

 
At 5/19/2009 9:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what?! If you don't like it, don't pay him to speak at one of your functions.

 

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