Although agency theory suggests that firms should index executive compensation to remove market-wide effects (i.e., RPE), there is little evidence to support this theory. Oyer (2004, Journal of Finance 59, 1619–1649) posits that an absence of RPE is optimal if the CEO's reservation wages from outside employment opportunities vary with the economy's fortunes. We directly test and find support for Oyer's (2004) theory. We argue that the CEO's outside opportunities depend on his talent, as proxied by the CEO's financial press visibility and his firm's industry-adjusted ROA. Our results are robust to alternate explanations such as managerial skimming, oligopoly, and asymmetric benchmarking.
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