An Unprecedented 1,640 CEOs Departed in 2019; Now Execs Are Dumping Stock at Highest Pace Since 2006

Yet more evidence that the the current financial crisis began in the fall of 2019 – months before the first case of COVID-19 had emerged anywhere in the world.

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens of Wall Street on Parade.

A rather fascinating picture is emerging that suggests that things were not as rosy in the U.S. economic landscape prior to the pandemic as President Donald Trump and his Director of the National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, would have the public believe.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. has been tracking CEO departures for the past 12 years. Its Vice President, Andrew Challenger, called the numbers for 2019 “staggering.” It was the highest number since their surveys began in 2002. A total of 1,640 CEOs headed for the exits last year. That was 156 more CEOs than those who left their post in 2008 – the year that Wall Street blazed a scorched earth trail through the U.S. economy.

The number of CEOs that did not leave on their own accord last year was 101 out of the 1,640. According to the study, 15 CEOs left over allegations of professional misconduct; 20 left amid a scandal, “typically under investigations for financial wrongdoing or other legal issues”; 24 saw their positions terminated; 39 left due to a merger or acquisition; 3 left due to bankruptcy.

CEOs of old, established companies have the clearest view of what is happening in the overall economy. They can compare sales growth to prior years and prior decades. They can spot negative or positive trends in the economy far ahead of the economic reports that the federal government releases to the public.

When an outsized number of CEOs decide to cash out their stock options, grab their golden parachutes, and flee their corner offices – something smells.

On top of that fishy smell comes a report from TrimTabs Investment Research that corporate insiders have reaped more than $50 billion in stock sales since May, putting insider selling on a pace not seen since 2006 – two years before the stock market and economic crash of 2008.

The above two reports on corporate executive behavior are compatible with Wall Street On Parade’s reports that show that the current financial crisis began in the fall of 2019 – months before the first case of COVID-19 had emerged anywhere in the world. What triggered the financial crisis? The same kind of liquidity crisis on Wall Street that ushered in the crisis of 2008. (See Wall Street’s Financial Crisis Preceded COVID-19: Chart and Timeline and our archive of more than 100 articles on the financial crisis of 2019/2020 here.)

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