An Unscientific Assessment of the Economy

09/26/2013 11.52 EST

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Relying on economists for predictions about the tone of our economy can be a frustrating business. After all, everyone knows the First Law of Economics:  For every economist, there exists an equal and opposite economist. The Second Law is that they are both wrong.   So what’s a person – who works in a business that is intimately tied to the economy, but who never once stepped foot in the business school during both his undergraduate and graduate school years – to do?   Rely on unscientific, subjective information, of course.   So here is my hot-off-the-press amateur assessment of the economy: things are improving. Here’s my case:   We just closed a search in which the placement received a sizable counter-offer from his employer when he went in to resign. They are a professional services firm that is swamped with work. The line at Starbucks is definitely getting longer. I met a very senior-level executive last week who decided to leave a high-paying job, purely voluntarily, so she could conduct a job search to take a different direction in her career. We recently closed two search assignments for a client company with candidates who had multiple offers in hand, leading to a mini bidding war. I do not consider it idiotic that I am buying organic, boutique food for my cats. Our firm is hiring again, for the first time in about five years. The new iPhone just sold about 100 million jillion units in 23...

Post Recession: Executive Pay on the Rise

01/04/2013 02.46 EST

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In the years leading up to the recession, the talent market was hot. Unemployment in 2007 was hovering in the 4.5 percent range and U.S. GDP growth – while not as robust as the late 1990s – had recovered nicely from the business and geo-political turmoil of the early part of the decade.   These factors created a business environment where the need for new senior executive talent was at a premium, and the price companies were willing to pay for such talent showed it.   In a recent study of our executive placements since 2006, we found that executives changing jobs in the two years leading up to the financial meltdown enjoyed a windfall in terms of compensation increases. On average, they were receiving an increase in total compensation of almost 25 percent.   Executive pay drops with the economy – 56% in 2 years   Adding to low unemployment and high GDP growth, a key demographic issue seemed to be fueling this increased appetite for talent: the upcoming mass retirement of the Baby Boomer generation. The eldest of the Baby Boomers were turning 60 in 2006. They had recouped their investment losses, their retirement accounts were bursting at the seams, and they appeared on the verge of enjoying the “New 40” at their leisure. Then, well, you know the story.   As the enormity of the financial meltdown took hold in late 2008, it threw U.S. corporations into turmoil. At first, they were paralyzed and began instituting hiring...