Business Monday

How do national CEOs measure up?

President Barack Obama: $395,000
President Barack Obama: $395,000 AP

The United States pays its “CEO,” the president, a relatively rich salary. The U.S. president has the biggest paycheck among national chief executive officers around the world.

But for two of the leading candidates to follow Barack Obama to become the next U.S. president, the job’s $395,000 annual salary would be a step down.

Former Secretary of State and Sen. Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, reported $16.2 million of income on her 2014 tax return, including nearly $10.5 million in speaking fees and $5.7 million in royalties, mainly from her book Hard Choices.

Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump has not yet released his personal tax returns for public inspection. But based on a financial disclosure statement he filed in July 2015, The Wall Street Journal estimated that Trump’s personal income this year will amount to $160 million.

That is about 400 times greater than the pay for serving as chief executive officer of the United States.

Trump would have even less financial motivation to become president of Mexico.

The Mexican presidency pays about $127,000 a year, according to, which tracks the pay of world leaders in U.S. dollars. Elsewhere in the Americas, the annual pay for the national CEO ranges from $237,884 for Justin Trudeau in Canada and $156,705 for Mauricio Macri in Argentina to $127,218 for Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico and $65,065 for Juan Manuel Santos in Colombia.


Queen Elizabeth collects a royal $56 million a year, about 278 times David Cameron’s annual pay of $203,867 as prime minister of the United Kingdom. But Fortune magazine reported June 1 that the UK government is planning overall spending cuts and will review the formula for the queen’s fast-rising compensation, which is based on a percentage of profits from the Crown Estate, a massive portfolio of British properties.

Meanwhile, as leader of Europe’s largest economy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel earns $239,000.

As Trump himself might argue, size matters, but not always: The United States pays its CEO relatively well because it is a relatively large country, with a current population of 323 million as of May 31, according to the Census Bureau’s website. The president’s salary of $395,000 a year works out to $1,223 a year per 1 million U.S. residents.

But China, the most populous country in the world with 1.3 billion residents, pays its chief executive, President Xi Jinping, just $20,665 a year, according to That translates to $15.43 a year per 1 million Chinese.

Along with relatively low pay, many world leaders face employment insecurity.

For example, Brazil’s Senate voted May 12 to begin an impeachment trial against the country’s president, Dilma Rousseff, an action that suspended her from office as chief executive of South America’s biggest country. An ABC News report on the compensation of world leaders indicates that Rousseff’s pay as president of Brazil is approximately $220,000 a year.

Modest pay for big jobs




Barack Obama



Angela Merkel



Justin Trudeau



David Cameron



Mauricio Macri



Enrique Peña Nieto



Juan Manuel Santos



Xi Jingping



New U.S. president will take a pay cut

Presumptive nominee


Most recent salary figure

Hilary Clinton


$16.2 million (2014)

Donald Trump


$160 million (2015 estimate)

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