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Spare me the “shareholder spring” allusions. Not only does the parallel devalue the genuine sacrifice of those who took part in the popular revolts of the “Arab spring”, it misrepresents the nature of the shareholder rebellions that have now defenestrated three UK chief executives, including, today, Andrew Moss of Aviva.
The natural assumption is that high pay is the root cause of investors’ disgruntlement, whereas tone-deafness on remuneration was merely a symptom of a wider concern about Trinity Mirror, AstraZeneca and now Aviva. What really did for Mr Moss (apart from his habit of letting himself be photographed looking out over the City, like a jut-jawed lord of all he surveyed) was his performance not his pay. Read more
There’s a famous scene in The Devil Wears Prada where Meryl Streep, as the terrifying editor of a Vogue-like fashion magazine, lectures dowdily dressed Anne Hathaway on the way her “lumpy blue sweater” is, in fact, distantly influenced by the catwalk collections of Oscar de la Renta and Yves St Laurent.
In the same way, are the recent votes of institutional shareholders against executive pay somehow an echo of the Occupy movement’s vocal, if ill-focused, protests, from Wall Street to the City of London?
I think they are. But it suits both sides to disagree, even if the most productive changes in the way capitalism has historically functioned might be achieved by greater engagement. Read more