'Maybe Rich People Can See the Writing on the Wall': CEOs Stepping Down at Levels Not Seen Since 2008

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. 

“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.

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.

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

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

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