More CEOs than ever before at the world's 2,500 largest companies left or were removed from their position last year, new data from PwC shows, a record high of 17.5%.

By the numbers: That's 3 percentage points higher than the rate in 2017 and above what has been the norm for the last decade.

The big picture: Most strikingly, analysts noted, was that the reason CEO were fired. For the first time in the study's history, more CEOs were dismissed for "ethical lapses" than for financial performance or board struggles.

  • PwC noted that overall "forced turnovers" were in line with recent trends at 20% of overall leadership changes.

What they're saying: "We define dismissals for ethical lapses as the removal of the CEO as the result of a scandal or improper conduct by the CEO or other employees; examples include fraud, bribery, insider trading, environmental disasters, inflated resumes, and sexual indiscretions."

Why you'll hear about this again: The last kind of ethical lapse stood out, as corporate boards finally began adopting zero-tolerance policies toward executive mistreatment of female staffers.

  • "The growing presence and power of activist investors could also be a contributing factor to the higher rate of CEO turnover," PwC analysts noted.

Go deeper: The most overpaid CEOs

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Updated 8 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1:30 p.m. ET: 32,919,487 — Total deaths: 995,352 — Total recoveries: 22,770,166Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1:30 p.m. ET: 7,089,611 — Total deaths: 204,566 — Total recoveries: 2,750,459 — Total tests: 100,492,536Map.
  3. States: New York daily cases top 1,000 for first time since June — U.S. reports over 55,000 new coronavirus cases.
  4. Health: The long-term pain of the mental health pandemicFewer than 10% of Americans have coronavirus antibodies.
  5. Business: Millions start new businesses in time of coronavirus.
  6. Education: Summer college enrollment offers a glimpse of COVID-19's effect.

Biden on Supreme Court fight: "This is about whether or not the ACA will exist"

Joe Biden made health care the overwhelming focus of his remarks from Wilmington, Delaware, on Sunday, stressing that the Senate confirmation battle over Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court is about preserving the Affordable Care Act in the midst of a pandemic.

Why it matters: Democrats are aggressively pushing the message that Barrett, who has previously criticized Chief Justice John Roberts for his 2012 ruling salvaging the ACA, will seek to invalidate the law when the Supreme Court hears a Trump administration-backed lawsuit against it on Nov. 10.

McMaster: Trump's peaceful transition comments are a "gift to our adversaries"

President Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses November's presidential election is a "gift to our adversaries," Trump's former national security adviser H.R. McMaster said Sunday.

The big picture: McMaster, a retired three-star general, said that the American people must understand that the military will have "no role" in a presidential transition and that it's "irresponsible" to even talk about it as a possibility.