What We’re Reading is a roundup of current news and commentary on the challenges and opportunities of aligning business decisions with the long-term health of society. This month, we trace long-term dynamics in business and society, from the last decade’s trends in ESG to developments in working-class activism.
War Dims Global Economic Outlook as Inflation Accelerates (Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, IMF Blog) “The war also increases the risk of a more permanent fragmentation of the world economy into geopolitical blocks with distinct technology standards, cross-border payment systems, and reserve currencies. Such a tectonic shift would cause long-run efficiency losses [and] increase volatility…”
Economy Contracts for First Time Since 2020 in First Quarter as GDP Falls 1.4% (Paul Davidson, USA Today) Despite the headline, the main takeaway is that the U.S. economy as a whole remains largely healthy. Read a little deeper, and this article offers even more insights, including data on trends in business investment.
Annual Meetings Are the New Frontline in the Battle Over Corporate Purpose (The Economist) There’s an unusual trend this proxy season: a “counter-reformation” of proposals meant to combat advocacy for ESG.
We Analyzed 300 Companies’ Financial Documents to Find Out How Concerned They Are About Climate Change (Emily Barone and Chris Wilson, TIME) If the last reading has you a bit down, this one might give hope (possibly), with evidence of the evolving momentum for corporate action on climate.
The Revolt of the College-Educated Working Class (Noam Scheiber, The New York Times) What does working-class activism mean in 21st–century America? This article explores the push by college-educated low-wage workers to mobilize for fairer treatment, and how education, politics, age, and other dimensions of workplace diversity are helping unions make inroads.
What One ‘Brotherhood’ of Coal Miners Learned From a Year Above Ground (Michael Corkery, The New York Times) “It is a stark tableau of the American economy: coal miners dug into a contract dispute in a diminished industry and low-wage workers seeking more leverage at a high-tech company whose growth seems limitless.”
Elon Musk Is Fighting for Attention, Not Free Speech (Renée DiResta, The Atlantic) “Twitter made a distinction between speech that expressed a user’s opinions and bad behavior that might silence the speech of others.” For more on the potential negative externalities of Musk’s view of free speech for social media users, see Elon Musk’s ‘Free Speech’ Will Be a Nightmare For Trans People on Twitter.
Microsoft, Chipmakers’ Bottom Lines Hit by Xi’s Lockdowns (Debby Wu and Betty Hou, Bloomberg) China’s pandemic lockdowns continue to impact companies and consumers around the globe, with far-reaching consequences for everything from production to earnings to recruitment.
For more on our work to align business with the long-term good of society, sign up for our publications and visit our website. (Please note, the purpose of this newsletter is to highlight what Aspen BSP staff are reading, and is not intended as advertisement or endorsement of content or viewpoints.)
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