Right now the official rhetoric of the right, and a fair number of people who consider themselves centrist, is that high-income individuals are “job creators” who must be cherished for the good they do.Are CEOs paid their value added?, por Tyler Cowen:
Yet textbook economics says that in a competitive economy, the contribution any individual (or for that matter any factor of production) makes to the economy at the margin is what that individual earns — period. What a worker contributes to GDP with an additional hour of work is that worker’s hourly wage, whether that hourly wage is $6 or $60,000 an hour. This in turn means that the effect on everyone else’s income if a worker chooses to work one hour less is precisely zero. If a hedge fund manager gets $60,000 an hour, and he works one hour less, he reduces GDP by $60,000 — but he also reduces his pay by $60,000, so the net effect on other peoples’ incomes is zip. (...)
So, are conservatives comfortable with this analysis? I would guess not, that they have a deep-seated belief that the 1%, by working harder, are doing the 99% a big favor, creating jobs and raising incomes — and that this gain isn’t fully (or even largely) captured by the money they’re paid.
My point, then, is that this claim — and the lionization of high earners as people who make a vast contribution to society — is not, in fact, something that comes out of the free-market economic principles these people claim to believe in. Even if you believe that the top 1% or better yet the top 0.1% are actually earning the money they make, what they contribute is what they get, and they deserve no special solicitude.
Remember Paul Krugman’s forays into “the wage reflects what the top earners are really worth” topic, and the surrounding debates? Why should this discussion be such a fact-free zone? Why so little discussion of tax incidence?Nos comentários, o post do Cowen foi "demolido" pelos comentadores, já que o estudo não diz o que ele diz que diz - segundo o estudo, a remuneração dos CEOs equivale a 1% da subida do valor das empresas nesse período, mas não há nada que diga que toda essa valorização é resultado do trabalho do CEO.
Let’s start with the literature.
Read this paper by Kevin Murphy (pdf), especially pp.33-38. Admittedly the paper is from 1999 and it won’t pick up the more recent problems with the financial sector. But most of the data are from plain, ol’ garden variety CEOs. In many of the estimations we see CEOs picking up less than one percent of the value they create for the firm, and all of the estimates of their value capture are impressively small, albeit rising over time. Never is the percentage of value capture anything close to one hundred percent. “One percent value capture” is an entirely plausible belief.
What is the marginal product of a CEO?, também por Cowen:
If you read carefully my post from yesterday, you may have noticed what a tricky question this is. “CEO” of course is a discrete position, and while there are companies with “zero” or “two” CEOs, those comparisons are not the correct ones to define marginal product; in any case they would give you two very different numbers.
Nor is it correct to compare “this CEO” to “his likely replacement.” That difference could be zero, but it does not mean the CEO adds zero value or will or should receive zero pay. Keep in mind that we are already juggling a few margins here, including “getting this CEO to work harder or better” and “this CEO vs. another.”
Alternatively, imagine there are ten firms in the economy, of differing size and import, all bidding for managers in a pool of fifty people. A credible CEO offer has to satisfy a participation constraint, namely getting the candidate to take the job over CEO at a lesser firm or working in a lesser job. But if a CEO can add 50 percent of value to a firm, that CEO will not in general be paid fifty percent of the firm’s value and need not be paid anything close to that. The shareholders know he will take the job for less and there are other candidates who might add forty-seven percent of value. The firm can make a credible offer of “two percent of value added” and it might be accepted.
Unlike hiring widget-makers for “less than their marginal product,” there is no subsequent disruption of equilibrium which must follow from this apparent disjunction of CEO pay and marginal product. For instance there is no firm-level incentive to further expand output or hire extra CEOs. There is one discrete slot, a wide range of potential compensation values, and the final sum is set by a bargain, determined by the context of principal-agent theory. (...)
In general, it is confusing to suggest that CEOs will be paid their marginal product. The traditional notion of marginal product does not apply to a CEO in the simple “widgets per worker” way. There are ways you can define “marginal product” to make the claim “CEOs are paid their marginal product” more or less true, but that is not my preferred way forward. Instead we should get more used to thinking intuitively within the principal-agent model, even though it is harder to do.
Isso levanta uma questão sobre o próprio conceito de "produto marginal" - qual é o produto marginal de um trabalhador? O aumento da produção que ocorreria se a empresa contratasse mais um trabalhador (neste caso, a diferença entre a produção de 1 vs 2 CEO)? Ou a diminuição da produção que ocorreria se a empresa despedisse um trabalhador (neste caso, a diferença entre a produção de 0 vs 1 CEO)? Nos cursos e manuais de economia simplesmente assume-se um função de produção contínua com factores de produção infinitamente divisiveis (e aí o produto marginal é simplesmente a derivada), mas há muitas situações no mundo real em que isso não se aplica.
Thinking About CEO Pay, por Arnold Klin:
2. I think that Tyler's reasons for skepticism about measuring the marginal product of a CEO are applicable to many, if not most, employees in a modern business. Recall the Garett Jones characterization of workers as producing organizational capital, not widgets. CEO's have a lot of influence over the organizational capital development of their firms. When you have an entity as big as a Fortune 500 company, slightly better approaches to developing organizational capital can make billion-dollar differences in value.CEOs and Marginal Product, por Alex Tabarrok:
The concept of marginal product assumes a sort of mathematical continuity that just isn't there in the real world. The textbook representation of business decisions as solutions to calculus problems is grossly misleading. In an actual business, you don't have an equation for your demand curve. You don't have a cost function.
3. I think of CEOs as players in a tournament. Their performance reflects both skill and luck factors. Their pay reflects both their performance and still other luck factors.
4. I suspect that the relationship between pay and value for CEO's falls far short of the standards of cosmic justice. But I suspect that even coming up with those standards is far beyond anyone's capability.
Contra Tyler, it is, of course, perfectly reasonable to compare a CEO with his or her likely replacement. Board of Directors do this all the time. If the Board finds that revenues would be the same with a new CEO the theory doesn’t say that the current CEO should get a zero wage (as Tyler oddly suggests). It says that the current CEO should not be paid more than the wage necessary to hire the replacement. If the current CEO is paid more, he may be out a job. If the current CEO is paid less, he may move.Já agora, aproveito para relembrar a minha teoria sobre Salários, produtividade e economia "mainstream" (e a discussão acerca disso no Fiel Inimigo).
Tyler argues that CEOs are paid far too little (less than 1% of their marginal product). I say that as a result of the process described above CEOs are paid more or less their marginal product on average. Indeed, according to one astute writer, Gabaix and Landier find that replacing “replacing the No. 250 chief executive with the No. 1 will increase the value of the company by only 0.014 percent.” More or less means that principal agent problems, risk aversion and uncertainty also matter but they matter within a range determined by the usual process. I also believe that the case for some CEOs being overpaid because they choose friendly board members is far stronger than Tyler’s case that CEOs on average are radically underpaid.