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Companies have been slashing almost every cost imaginable to survive the recession, yet they are spending more than ever to calm CEOs who fear for their personal safety.

Starbucks, which has laid off workers, closed stores and switched from whole to 2% milk to save pennies a gallon, bumped its spending to $511,079 last year on the personal and home security of CEO Howard Schultz. FedEx, which quit matching employee 401(k) contributions, spent $595,875 on the security of CEO Fred Smith. Walt Disney spent $645,368 for CEO Robert Iger; Occidental Petroleum spent $575,407 for Ray Irani; and McKesson spent $401,706 for John Hammergren.

Be it paranoia or prudence, corporate spending on CEO safekeeping is escalating in the face of painful cutbacks, and not by a little. The median spending on personal and home security for CEOs at the 100 largest publicly traded companies was $65,348 in 2008, up 123% from $29,291 in 2007, according to executive compensation research firm Equilar. Ten companies alone spent a total of $4.6 million on CEO security in 2008, 40% more than the 10 biggest spenders of 2007.

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