Let's just reiterate that headline to make sure it sinks in: The top 100 CEOs, you know, fewer people than were on the train I took to work this morning, have more in retirement savings than 50 million families—41% of the families in the United States, or 116 million people. Anyone else think that seems kind of excessive?
Those numbers come from a new report, A Tale of Two Retirements, co-published by the Center for Effective Government and the Institute for Policy Studies. Among the key findings:
- The company-sponsored retirement assets of 100 CEOs add up to as much as the entire retirement account savings of 41% of American families.
- The 100 largest CEO retirement accounts are worth an average of more than $49.3 million—enough to generate a $277,686 monthly retirement check for each executive for the rest of their lives.
- Fortune 500 CEOs have $3.2 billion in special tax-deferred compensation accounts that are exempt from the annual contribution limits imposed on ordinary 401(k)s.
- In 2014, these CEOs saved $78 million on their tax bills by putting $197 million more in these tax-deferred accounts than they could have if they were subject to the same rules as other workers. These special accounts grow tax free until the executives retire and begin to withdraw the funds.
- The 10 largest CEO retirement funds—all held by white males—add up to $1.4 billion, compared with $280 million for the 10 largest held by female CEOs, and $196 million for the 10 largest held by CEOs who are people of color.
- Among ordinary Americans, 62% of working-age African Americans and 69% of Latinos have no retirement savings, compared with just 37% of white workers.
- David Novak of Yum Brands had the largest retirement nest egg in the Fortune 500 in 2014, with $234 million, while hundreds of thousands of his Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC employees have no company retirement assets whatsoever.
The report explains the policy shifts that led to this landscape and lays out a series of reforms that would limit CEO retirement subsidies and make sure ordinary Americans have the ability to have a dignified retirement.
We also note that The Washington Post, in coverage of the report this weekend, published a headline with the exact opposite conclusion of the report:
The correct headline should indicate that the top 100 CEOs have a massive advantage over average Americans in terms of retirement funds.