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The run-up in stock prices means that executives holding stock options and restricted shares are marking big gains

I have no problem with people "earning" money but this is just pumping up share prices to enrich corporate leaders who have already benefited from the bail outs and massive money printing. The system is pure fraud. In addition to stock options, the 1% are using speculation, market manipulation, naked short selling and put options based on insider information to game the system. Like Mike Rivero says all the time...they are "money junkies". They should be institutionalized.

Wall Street's bull run is helping to create staggering payoffs for CEOs cashing in stock options and shares issued at far lower prices. "Some of these numbers are obscene,'' says former compensation consultant John James, director of Pace University's Center for Global Governance, Reporting and Regulation. "But corporate directors have long had the attitude 'How do we make this guy feel that he's needed? We can't afford to lose him.'"

Stock options and restricted shares are key tools to attract, retain and reward employees. Options are designed so they increase in value as the underlying share price rises. If a stock option is awarded at, say, $10 a share and the stock price rises to $20, the holder could acquire shares and sell for a $10 pretax gain. Executives usually need to remain with a company for several years before restricted shares are vested.

•Starbucks' Howard Schultz. The coffee chain's founder and CEO exercised stock options for a $103.3 million gain and received vested shares for an additional $10.2 million. That's on top of pay, incentives, stock and other compensation valued at nearly $29 million. Starbucks says shareholders' return jumped 38% in fiscal 2012 after a 46% gain in 2011.

•Ford's Alan Mulally. He gained more than $61 million on previously awarded shares that vested last year. That's on top of a compensation package valued at nearly $21 million, according to the automaker's preliminary proxy. Some of the restricted shares — on top of nearly 5 million stock options — were awarded when Ford shares traded at $1.96, a quarter-century low. On paper, Mulally, 67, has ample gains ahead. At year's end, he held about 13 million stock options, including nearly 5 million options priced at $1.96. Wednesday's close:$13.36.

•Sherwin-Williams' Christopher Connor. He gained $56.4 million, including $49.5 million exercising previously awarded shares. The paints marketer says that's on top of 2012 compensation valued at $11 million. Connor, 56, has been CEO since 1999. A recovering housing market and new stores propelled shareholder return 75% in 2012.

•Chipotle Mexican Grill's co-CEOs Steve Ells and Monty Moran. Ells, company founder, gained nearly $47 million exercising previously awarded options, Moran $55.5 million. That's on top of 2012 compensation valued at more than $19 million each. The fast-food chain acknowledged the "significant value" from stock options that were granted from 2008 to 2010, when the company's market value soared from $1.7 billion to $9.2 billion.

•Apple's Tim Cook. He gained $139.7 million from restricted shares that vested last year, reflecting the company's soaring 2012 stock price. Shares peaked at about $705. Wednesday's close: $452.08. The company granted Cook restricted shares worth $376 million when he became CEO in 2011. Apple says restricted shares reward performance, help retain key execs and ensure that a significant part of compensation is tied to Apple's long-term stock price performance.


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There is no such thing as a money-junkie, of course

Mike Rivero's economic ignorance is dangerous.

People do not desire money qua money. People desire the stuff they think they can acquire by using a medium of exchange. There is a big difference.

Hell, even savers help society by removing some money from circulation, thereby lowering the effects of previous inflation.

What to do about rigged stock markets? Let the criminals have those markets all to themselves, lucky them.

Forget Corporations

Focus on the Federal Reserve. Without the Fed, none of these abuses are remotely possible.

Yea they are all

just symptoms of one gigantic cause. Cure the cause and the symptoms go away.

“When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.” – Dresden James