News Release

War Industry CEOs’ Stocks Spike

SARAH ANDERSON, sarah at ips-dc.org, @SarahDAnderson1
Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and co-edits the IPS publication Inequality.org. She just wrote the piece “The Threat of War Inflates Stock Holdings of Military Contractor CEOs,” which states: “CEOs of major U.S. military contractors stand to reap huge windfalls from the escalation of conflict with Iran. This was evident in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. assassination of a top Iranian military official last week. As soon as the news reached financial markets, these companies’ share prices spiked, inflating the value of their executives’ stock-based pay.

“I took a look at how the CEOs at the top five Pentagon contractors were affected by this surge, using the most recent SEC information on their stock holdings.

“Northrop Grunman executives saw the biggest increase in the value of their stocks after the U.S. airstrike that killed Qasem Suleimani on January 2. Shares in the B-2 bomber maker rose 5.43 percent by the end of trading the following day.

“Wesley Bush, who turned Northrop Grunman’s reins over to Kathy Warden last year, held 251,947 shares of company stock in various trusts as of his final SEC Form 4 filing in May 2019. (Companies must submit these reports when top executives and directors buy and sell company stock.) Assuming Bush is still sitting on that stockpile, he saw the value grow by $7.4 million to a total of $94.5 million last Friday. …

“Sen. Bernie Sanders, for instance, has a plan to deny federal contracts to companies that pay CEOs more than 150 times what their typical worker makes.

“As long as we allow the top executives of our privatized war economy to reap unlimited rewards, the profit motive for war in Iran — or anywhere — will persist.”