As the economy melted down last year, so did CEO paychecks. The average compensation for 200 chief executives at America's largest public companies fell 5.1% last year to $10.8 million, according to a survey published Sunday by the New York Times and research firm Equilar. The decline marked the first time in five years that top executives' pay packages shrank compared to the year before.
"We could begin to see a fundamental sea change in the compensation of executives," Charles M. Elson, director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware, told the Times. "If shareholder value has fallen, so should the value of the executive pay package."