Pagados para fracasar

CAMBRIDGE – En un informe que se acaba de presentar al tribunal de los Estados Unidos que está supervisando la quiebra de Lehman Brothers, un examinador nombrado por el tribunal describió cómo adoptaban los ejecutivos de Lehman decisiones deliberadas para aplicar una estrategia atrevida de inversión, correr riesgos mayores y aumentar en gran medida el apalancamiento. ¿Fueron dichas decisiones consecuencia de ensoberbecimiento y errores de juicio o producto de incentivos inadecuados?

Después de que Bear Stearns y Lehman Brothers se desplomaran y con ello comenzase una crisis a escala mundial, los informes de los medios de comunicación dieron en gran medida por sentado que el patrimonio de los ejecutivos de esas empresas se esfumó, junto con la de las empresas que tripularon hasta el desastre. Ese “relato oficial” indujo a los comentaristas a minimizar el papel de disposiciones inadecuadas sobre remuneraciones y la importancia de reformar las estructuras de salarios de los ejecutivos.

En nuestro estudio, “The Wages of Failure: Executive Compensation at Bear Sterns and Lehman Brothers 2000-2008” (“Los salarios del fracaso. Remuneraciones de los ejecutivos de Bear Stearns y Lehman Brothers en el período 2000-2008”), examinamos ese relato oficial y concluimos que es incorrecto.   Reconstruimos los movimientos de efectivo obtenidos por los cinco ejecutivos máximos de las empresas basándonos en datos procedentes de los archivos de la Comisión del Mercado de Valores. Descubrimos que, pese al desplome de las empresas en 2008 los saldos finales de dichos ejecutivos correspondientes al período 2000-2008 fueron positivos y cuantiosos.

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