Signs of Economic Recovery: Big, Bouncy Executive Bonuses

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Howard Schultz, Chairman, president and CEO of Starbucks, tours the Nandaohe Demo Coffee Farm outside of Pu'er, Yunnan province, China on November 13, 2010. Starbucks has just signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Pu'er city to collaborate on producing high-quality coffee and responsible growing practices in Yunnan. Photo: Ariana Lindquist/Bloomberg via Getty Images /Ariana Lindquist

You know our economy is rebounding when the rich are getting richer without the government's help. Bonuses for the chief executives at 50 major corporations jumped a median of 30.5 percent for 2010 — the biggest gain in at least three years. Under new disclosure rules, businesses with stock-market value exceeding $75 million must let investors weigh in on executive bonuses in annual meetings. Some corporate heads got the thumbs down. Others were handsomely rewarded for increasing returns. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz received his biggest bonus ever, $3.5 million up from $1 million the year before. Shareholders probably wanted to acknowledge Schultz's visionary refusal to be constrained by the limitations of the human stomach.

Executive Bonuses Bounce Back[WSJ]