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‘Sign of a recession?’: CEOs stepping down at levels not seen since 2008

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“You expect a high turnover during a recession period. To see more turnover during a period where companies are doing very well is surprising.”

A record number of CEOs left their positions in October, a corporate outplacement firm reported Wednesday, the most in one month since the 2008 recession.

The news from Challenger, Gray & Christmas raised eyebrows—and concerns over a possible incoming recession—Wednesday evening at progressive news co-op The District Sentinel‘s radio show.

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“Maybe this means nothing, maybe this is a coincidence,” said show co-host Sam Sacks. “Or maybe rich people can see the writing on the wall and are cashing out right now.”

Sacks and co-host Sam Knight weren’t the only ones who saw the news as possibly indicative of economic upheaval on the horizon.

“Sign of a recession?” wondered Globe and Mail reporter Paul Waldie.

According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas’ report, 1,332 CEOs have already left their companies, far outstripping the total 1,257 departures by this time in 2008. A total 1,484 CEOs left their positions by the end of 2008.

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In a press release, Challenger, Gray & Christmas explained some of the turnover as the result of executive misconduct, succession plans, and normal changes in personnel. But even by those standards, 2019 stands out.

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As The Chicago Tribune reported, October was a high water mark for the year:

In October, 172 chief executives left their posts, compared with 151 CEOs in September and 149 in October 2018, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray, & Christmas. That brings the 10-month tally to 1,332 CEOs who are out—the highest number since 2002, when the firm began tracking CEO departures at companies that have been in business at least two years and have at least 10 employees.

“Succession plans and misconduct aside, 172 in one month?” market researcher Danielle DiMartino Booth tweeted incredulously.

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October’s numbers beat the previous record, set in August.

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Challenger, Gray & Christmas’ vice president Andrew Challenger acknowledged to NBC News that the numbers were more akin to times of economic downturn than to the current era of relative stability.

“You expect a high turnover during a recession period,” said Challenger. “To see more turnover during a period where companies are doing very well is surprising.”

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In a statement announcing the departure numbers, Challenger downplayed the possibility of economic disaster and framed the personnel changes as part of the normal course of business.

“We’ve seen the majority of CEOs leaving amid normal succession plans,” said Challenger. “Meanwhile, after a decade of expansion, companies that started ten years ago are finding themselves in a phase where new leadership is needed. Other companies are adapting to changing technologies or finding new leadership based on current economic conditions and forecasts for the coming year.”

But, as Common Dreams reported last month, there are other signs of possible economic trouble ahead. A number of late October moves by the Federal Reserve to pump cash into the economy set off alarm bells on Wall Street, prompting Northman Trader’s Sven Heinreich to wonder, “What is the Fed not telling us?”

The inverted yield curve—a sign of coming recession—that surfaced in October further suggested to The District Sentinel‘s Sacks that the CEO exodus could be a sign of imminent economic disaster.

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“Maybe these CEOs are seeing that inverted yield and are just like, ‘yeah, let’s just take our golden parachutes and get the fuck out of here,'” said Sacks.

“That’s probably correct,” said Knight.

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First test of Virgin Orbit rocket fails to accomplish goal

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The first test launch of a rocket that is released from a jumbo jet at 35,000 feet and then propels itself into orbit to deploy a satellite failed on Monday, the Virgin Orbit company said.

"The mission terminated shortly into the flight. Cosmic Girl and our flight crew are safe and returning to base," Virgin Orbit's Twitter account reported as the test was underway off the coast of California.

The plane released the rocket cleanly, but the latter developed trouble of unknown origin after igniting its first-stage engine, the company said.

Founded by British billionaire Richard Branson in 2012, Virgin Orbit wants to offer a quick and flexible launch service for operators of small satellites, weighing between 300 and 500 kilos (600 to 1,00 pounds), a market which is currently booming.

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Trump adviser’s ‘repugnant’ lack of concern for human life slammed by ethics expert

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On Monday, President Donald Trump's economic adviser Kevin Hassett appeared on CNN to urge the economy to reopen, saying, "Our human capital stock is ready to go back to work."

White House adviser Kevin Hassett: "Our human capital stock is ready to go back to work." #HumanCapitalStock pic.twitter.com/Yl9KwJf6KP

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 25, 2020

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Trump uses Memorial Day to attack Biden and recycle old lies about his coronavirus response

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NYT: "At Least 430,000 People Have Arrived in the United States on Direct Flights From China"

President Donald Trump used the occasion of the Memorial Day holiday to recycle old, debunked lies about his likely Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.

In a tweet Trump made several accusations, none of them are true.

Sleepy Joe Biden (mostly his reps.) went crazy when I banned, in late January, people coming in from China. He called me “xenophobic” & then went equally “nuts” when we let in 44,000 people - until he was told they were American citizens coming home. He later apologized!

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