Heading for the top: considering CEO pay

It used to be that CEOs made something like 40 times their average worker's salary, in recent years that has jumped to three or four hundred times the average worker's salary. Many aspiring MBAs are really aspiring CEOs. Who wouldn't say they want a shot at that top spot and the big compensation packages that come along with it?

On that note, the Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal has a special report on executive compensation this week. The Journal’s annual analysis of CEO compensation and company performance for the state’s 100 largest public companies produced some interesting findings,
breaking down CEOs from overpaid to appropriately paid and underpaid (pdfs).

For the second consecutive year, Ameriprise Financial Inc. Chairman and CEO James Cracchiolo is Minnesota’s highest-paid public company CEO. Last year, that earned him the title of the state’s “most-overpaid CEO.” ...Just one year later, he is considered “appropriately paid,” with his pay almost perfectly matching his company’s performance.

It’s important to note that the overpaid/underpaid CEO rankings are just a one-year snapshot of a CEO’s compensation and how it compares to his or her company’s performance.

What do you think about CEO compensation? Should we return to an era of more modest executive compensation, like the list of "underpaid" CEOs? Or are these leaders really taking the big risks—that deserve big rewards?