The average top chief executive in Australia is earning $5.2 million, a figure not seen since before the global financial crisis.
A new report that analyses data from Australia’s top 100 companies shows that the average chief executive pay dropped from $5.5 million before the GFC to $4.7 million in 2011. But it has steadily crept back to $5.2 million.
Australia’s highest reported CEO salary peaked at $33.5 million before the GFC, fell to $11.8 million in 2011 and bounced back to $21.6 million in 2017.
The report has found that while average earnings have less than doubled since 2000, the pay packets of executives at National Australia Bank and the Commonwealth Bank have more than tripled.
The report is being released to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the collapse of Bear Stearns, the fifth largest investment bank in the US, which had some of the world’s highest paid executives.
Report author David Richardson, a senior research fellow at left-wing think tank the Australia Institute, will on Thursday release the report, which analyses executive pay 10 years on from the GFC.
Shares softened in early trading on Thursday after a soft retail sales figure pulled down Wall Street overnight.
The S&P/ASX 200 index edged down 4 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 5931 while the All Ordinaries slipped by the same amount in points and percentage terms to trade at 6037.
The Australian dollar reached US78.80¢.
Wall Street ended in the red overnight after an unexpected fall in February retail sales raised some questions over the future path of the US economy.
Banks fell in the US and Australian banks were leading the ASX down on Thursday. An inquiry into the sector continues today.
ANZ and NAB fell 0.6 per cent each while Westpac was lower by 0.3 per cent and CBA dipped 0.1 per cent.
Elsewhere in the financial sector, QBE shares were down 1 per cent and AMP shares lost 0.9 per cent.
A2 declined 1.1 per cent but airline Qantas rose 1.3 per cent.
Miners saw a bit of buying as the sector continued to welcome yesterday’s strong data from China, with BHP up 0.4 per cent and Rio Tinto up 0.5 per cent.
Macquarie’s economics team of Justin Fabo and Ric Deverell say they now expect the RBA to remain on hold until early 2019.
While the economy is improving, the unemployment rate remains too high, and wages and price inflation too low for the 25 basis points of rate hikes pencilled in for August and November this year, the economists said.
“Monetary policy should be set on the path of least regret. That path, in our view, is now to err on the side of supporting growth for longer to gain more confidence that inflation will once again spend more time in the 2 per cent to 3 per cent target than not.”
The royal commission into the financial sector is underway again, with the third substantive day of hearings starting at 9.45am.
Wednesday wrapped up the inquiry’s two-day examination of NAB’s fraudulent loan scheme, which involved 60 bankers, 20 of whom have since left the bank, and affected 1300 customers – all have yet to be compensated.
The Hayne royal commission will hear evidence about mortgage broker misconduct on Thursday. First up is Daniel Huggins of the Commonwealth Bank. He will be followed by three Aussie Home Loans brokers: Giles Boddy, Lynda Harris and David Smith.
Pacific Investment Management Co. is cutting its investments in Australian bank debt because of lofty valuations as well as trimming holdings of real estate and retailers’ bonds.
The unwinding of some of its holdings in Australian lenders’ debt is the first such move in about five years by the $2.2 trillion money manager.
Pimco’s reduction of its exposure to notes sold by Australian real estate investment trusts and retailers reflects concerns that surging personal debt will constrain consumption, according to Aaditya Thakur, senior vice president and portfolio manager.
“The macro fundamentals keep us relatively positive on risk assets, but where we’re cautious is the overall valuations in credit which are now getting quite tight,” said Mr Thakur, who is cutting some of Pimco’s holdings in longer-dated bank paper.
“We don’t think there’s a lot of premium in the current levels of spreads to act as a buffer or provide protection for any unexpected negative news in the market.”
Here’s an extraordinary story about the fall of the woman once known as the ‘Steve Jobs’ of biotechnology:
Elizabeth Holmes raised hundreds of millions of dollars from investors on the promise that her medical-testing startup Theranos would change medicine with a single drop of blood.
On Wednesday, US securities regulators called her a fraud and forced her to give up the company she built.
The lawsuit and settlement announced on Wednesday by the Securities and Exchange Commission detailed how Holmes and her chief deputy lied for years about their technology, snookered the media, and used the publicity to get investors to hand more than $700 million to keep the closely held company afloat.
As part of the accord, Holmes will pay a $500,000 fine, surrender 19 million shares and is barred from being an officer or director of a public company for 10 years.
“The Theranos story is an important lesson for Silicon Valley,” said Jina Choi, director of the SEC’s San Francisco Regional Office.
“Innovators who seek to revolutionise and disrupt an industry must tell investors the truth about what their technology can do today, not just what they hope it might do someday.”
IG Markets noted that all 11 sectors of the ASX 200 dropped on Wednesday, bringing the index down 0.66 per cent to close at 5935. The sector hit the hardest was telecommunications.
Futures are indicating further pressure for today after sharemarket losses in Europe and the US on Wednesday.
Fears over a looming global trade war following Trump’s controversial tariffs linger, and Wall Street fell after an unexpected fall in US retail sales.
Markets are palpably uneasy, with investors’ trade war worries not assuaged by the appointment of Larry Kudlow – a CNBC personality and former Reagan administration official who favours free trade – to replace Gary Cohn as US President Trump’s top economic advisor.
New Zealand posted gross domestic product growth of 0.6 per cent in the fourth quarter, falling short of expectations as hot weather hampered dairy production.
The data prompted a sell-off in the New Zealand dollar which slipped to US73.03¢ from around US73.30¢.
The economy’s annual growth rate was 2.9 per cent, below the 3.1 per cent expected by analysts, who had on average forecast 0.7 per cent quarterly growth.
The tepid result was largely due to weakness in production of dairy, the country’s top good export, which saw agricultural production fall 2.7 per cent.
Australian shares are poised for an uncertain start after Wall Street dipped on weakness in US consumer spending. Futures trading pointed to an five-point fall in the ASX at the open.
The focal point for US investors was an unexpected fall in US retail sales in February – the third straight month of declines, according to Commerce Department figures.
The recent deceleration in retail sales “is particularly disappointing given the boost to disposable incomes coming from the tax cuts, which arrived in February,” Capital Economics said.
The S&P 500 index closed down 0.6 per cent per cent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq slipped 0.2 per cent. The Dow Jones fell 1 per cent.
Stocks briefly pared losses after economic analyst and commentator Larry Kudlow, who has supported free trade measures in the past, said on Wednesday he had accepted an offer to replace Gary Cohn as the White House’s top economic adviser.
But in an interview with CNBC just before the market close, Kudlow said he believed tougher trade measures against China were warranted.
Yesterday’s news that factory output and investment growth in China unexpectedly accelerated buoyed metals prices and helped spur buying in raw material producers overnight.
European miners gained in a downbeat session where the overall market mood was soured by Italian political jitters.
Italy’s FTSE MIB index fell 1.1 per cent, turning lower after right-wing leader and Italy’s aspiring prime minister Matteo Salvini reiterated his party’s view that the euro was a flawed currency.
The showdown between Britain and the Kremlin about how a Soviet-era nerve toxin was used to attack a Russian ex-spy had little impact on British shares.
Insurer Prudential climbed 5.1 per cent after it said it would demerge its UK and Europe retirement and asset management business from its international insurance business.
All the overnight market action in numbers:
- SPI futures -5 points at 5934
- AUD at +0.3% at US78.8¢
- On Wall St: Dow -1%, S&P 500 -0.6%, Nasdaq -0.2%
- In New York, BHP +0.8%, Rio +0.3%
- In Europe: Stoxx 600 -0.2%, Dax +0.1%, FTSE -0.1%
- Spot gold -0.1% at $US1325.25/ounce
- Brent crude +0.3% at $US64.84/barrel
- Iron ore up $US1.86 to $US71.64/tonne
- 10-year bond yield: US 2.82%
On the economic agenda:
- New Zealand quarterly GDP data
- Melbourne Institute inflation expectations
- RBA quarterly bulletin
- Swiss central bank rate decision
- Philly Fed and Empire State US manufacturing indices
Stocks to watch:
- Wesfarmers Upgraded to Outperform at Credit Suisse
- Ex-Dividend: Ausdrill, Automotive Holdings, Bapcor, Contact Energy, Inghams Group, McMillan Shakespeare, Spark NZ