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Is James Cayne Paid Too Much?

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That’s the not so subtle message of the Bloomberg story on the $40 million payday for Bear Stearns chief executive James Cayne. It compares Cayne’s compensation to similarly sized comps of Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack and Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld, then notes that Morgan Stanley and Lehman brothers are considerably larger than Bear Stearns.
It goes on to quote an executive search firm executive who says something that you have to read in opposite language to decipher.

“You think there ought to be some consistency in CEO pay across similar firms, based on their size, but there isn't,'' said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., an executive search firm in Chicago. “It has a lot to do with history, how long the executives have been around, what they negotiated at the beginning.''

What he means is something like: “You’d think that the CEO of a smaller firm like Bear Stearns would get paid less than the CEO of a bigger firms but he isn’t.”
So why is Cayne paid so much? We’re tempted to answer: well, that’s what it takes to get Jimmy Cayne out of bed in the morning. The man is Wall Street’s wealthiest CEO, worth a reported $1.3 billion. Do you really think he’s coming into the office for half of what Rich Fuld makes?
Bear Stearns Paid Chief Cayne $40 Million Last Year[Bloomberg]