Obama News Conference at Conclusion of G-20 Summit - Page 7 of 13
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Obama News Conference at Conclusion of G-20 Summit

And what the American people care about I suspect are the same thing that the British people care about, and that is, are you putting people back to work? Are businesses growing again? Is business — is credit flowing again? And, you know — and that’s just true with respect to this summit. But when it comes to our Afghanistan policy, the question is going to be, have we made ourselves safer; have we reduced the risks and incidents of terrorism?

And so the proof of the pudding is in the eating. But hopefully, I think at least we’ve set a tone internationally where people don’t — where they give us the benefit of the doubt. They’re still going to have their interests, and we’re going to have ours. There are going to be tough negotiations, and sometimes we’re going to have to walk away from those negotiations if we can’t arrive at a common accord. There are going to be real dangers that can’t always be talked through and have to be addressed. But at least we can start with the notion that we’re prepared to listen and to work cooperatively with countries around the world.

All right, let me sprinkle in another — it’s got to be an international person. All right, this young lady right there.

Q Mr. President, Emma Alberici from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. At the moment, in the U.S., the U.K., and in Australia, executive salaries and bonuses are decided in the boardrooms of major publicly listed companies. Who will be making those decisions on salaries and bonuses as a result of the agreement you’ve made here today? And if it is still the boards, will they be guided by principles or legislation?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The principles that we outlined I think put in place or move us in the direction of what I consider to be best practices, which is that there is some accountability with respect to executive compensation.

Now, theoretically, that should be the shareholders. But the way that too many corporations have operated for too long is that you have a CEO who basically selects his board; the board, in a fairly cozy relationship oftentimes with the executive, hires a executive compensation firm, which, surprisingly, tends to think that it’s necessary to retain the best talent to pay people $20 or $30 million a year; and we get into the kinds of habits and practices that I think have not been — have not served shareholders well, I think ultimately distort the decision-making of many CEOs.

When I was in the United States Senate, I actually worked on a piece of legislation that would — made the simple proposition that executive compensation should be subject to a shareholder vote, even if it was nonbinding, so that there was transparency and accountability and perhaps a shame function that would take place. And that principle, I think, is reflected in these guidelines.


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