Pity the Poor Mining CEOs

I wrote recently about the factors driving CEO pay seem driven more by convention than any concrete reality. For another example of that which has nothing to do with anyone being overpaid, check out this Wall Street Journal story about “Stung by Falling Prices, Mining Companies Take Ax to CEO Pay” and ask yourself what kind of sense that makes.

Is it supposed to be the fault of a particular mining company’s executive team that the global commodities market is down? Obviously not. All businesses are simply to some extent victims of forces beyond their control. Hitting a soft patch in the world market for your product isn’t the same thing as bad management. But what is true is that with commodity prices down, mining companies have less money. With less money in hand, they pay their CEOs less. It’s easy to understand how that happens, but it’s very different from any kind of rational assessment of management performance.