The Taxpayers' $9 Million CEOs: Think of Them As an Investment

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CEOs Robert Benmosche, Dan Akerson, and Michael Carpenter. Last week's news that the Treasury Department had frozen or reduced the salaries of executives at TARP-bailed-out companies prompted a range of reactions from the public.

On the one hand, the revelation that even those "frozen" salaries would leave the CEOs of AIG (AIG), Ally Financial, and General Motors (GM) earning $10.5 million, $9.5 million, and $9 million in total compensation didn't generate many pity parties from Joe Six-Pack, who's struggling to make the mortgage on his suburban homestead.

On the other hand, confirmation that, as a whole, the Feds cut the salaries of 70 separate executives by 10% on average suggests Treasury is doing a good job as steward of the nation's involuntary investments.

There's another way to look at this, though, and it's one worth considering.

These Guys Work for All of Us Now

According to public data, as of this moment, the federal government -- that's you, me and Ben Bernanke makes three -- still owns nearly 32% of GM's outstanding shares, a whopping 69.6% of AIG's common stock, and just a smidgeon under 79% of Ally Financial's equity.

So say what you want about the overstuffed comp packages doled out to the overpaid managers of these companies. Like it or not, for the time being, they're our managers. Moreover, their chief duty today is making sure their businesses do well, so that when Treasury finally gets around to unloading the rest of its shares on the stock market, these shares fetch a superior stock price for the taxpayers.

This gives us all a strong interest in making sure we have the best bosses on the payroll that money can buy.

Motley Fool contributor Rich Smith holds no position in any company mentioned. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of General Motors.

NEXT: America's 10 Highest Paid CEOs: Which Are Worth the Money?




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Wayne Bradshaw

Gucci sent their fall/winter 2012/2013 collection down the Milan Fashion Week runway today and it featured a much darker, more gothic and vampire-like color palette than what was shown by the iconic design house for fall 2011. One year ago Gucci Outlet showed bright colors and blocked them together, helping to explode the current color blocking trend. For fall 2012, Gucci moved away from the trend they started and let black rule the runway.

May 06 2012 at 12:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
NKS55S

THESE SO CALLED EXECUTIVES ARE GOVERNMENT LOBBY TROLLS AND DO NOT WORK FOR ANYBODY BUT THIER GREEDY SELVES EXTORTING MONEY FROM THE TAX PAYERS USING SNAKE OIL SALES TATICS AND HYPOCRACY TO FURTHER THEIR LEGAL THEFT OF TAX PAYERS HARD EAREND MONEY. THE HOUSE OF HYPOCRITS ANS SCOUNDRALS IS WHAT THE SO CALLED WHITE HOUSE IS AND ALL THE SO CALLED PUBLIC SERVANTS GIVEN CART BLANCHE TO FLEESE THE THE CITIZENS OF AMERICA. HOW DISPICABLE THEY ALL ARE BIBLE THUMPING LYING HYPOCRITS. THE END....

April 11 2012 at 1:06 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Rickrak

Typical govenment BS. The companies failed with their leadership. Why should they still be there?
If someone fails at their job, Ithey should be fired. I own my own business and if I go belly-up, too bad for me. I'm out of a job. The Dems blame it on the Republicans, the Republicans blame the Dems. Lets vote out the professional politicians and put in some new blood.

April 11 2012 at 12:27 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
taostop

Remeber when Chrysler first declared bankrupcy in the 1970's? The CEO at the time took NO PAY until they were out of financial trouble. Why has the government bailed out these companies and still are paying the CEO's who put them there $9 million PLUS!

April 11 2012 at 11:46 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
en4j

so they're an investment now, amazing how the media puts a liberal spin on anything negative when a liberal is in the white house, first we're told that gas prices are not in the control of the president, but for some reason in 2008, when gas got up to a whooping 2.50 a gallon, there was pelosi and and all he socialist friends crying out to anyone who would listen how president Bush was in bed with the oil companies, but for some reason, only known to liberals, when the price of gas almost doubles with obama in the white house, its not his fault
only liberals could come up with deceptive practices like this, of course they couldn't do it without the help of their friends in the media, "look at this as a investment", how about looking at this as an excuse to cover up the failed policies of the obama administration, with the help of the media of course

April 11 2012 at 11:07 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to en4j's comment
bennett975

The GM CEO is an appointee of Bummers

April 11 2012 at 12:12 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
chris1011

Why do you blame liberals for the bank bailout? It was George Bush who initiated TARP and bailed out the banks one year before Obama took office. Seems to me this liberal versus conservative crap has gotten totally out of hand.

April 11 2012 at 1:15 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
skylinegra

Hey, " he who dies with the most toys, WINS !!! "

April 11 2012 at 11:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chrispnet

What a naive perspective. Motley Fool is now simply Fool.

April 11 2012 at 10:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rosspoling

We should not be paying or offering money to any corps or companies that are not willing to show a reuced pay out to CEO. Look at AIG now they are asking for more money and the CEO is still making big dollars while people are just getting by.

April 11 2012 at 10:28 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
R.H.

This story pegged the BS meter.

April 11 2012 at 9:41 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
jbwl42

I guess what I am saying is the "soul" is real. Let them have their wealth- they are not worth salt. As my gay friene always say, " peace and blessing". He is going to be in the chosen- these guys will be with me- just make sure they bring their millions, I am sure it will mean alot.

April 10 2012 at 9:56 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply