Long-Term Capitalism

What We’re Reading: December 2023

December 20, 2023  • Creating the Conditions for Long-Term Capitalism

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. As we conclude 2023, there’s hardly a shortage of challenging headlines. Nonetheless, if there’s a throughline to this edition of WWR, it is that hope can come in surprising ways, sometimes through dire predictions proving wrong, and sometimes through a reframing of what may seem an intractable problem.

The Economy

Why the Fed’s Dire Predictions for 2023 Didn’t Come True (Howard Schneider, Reuters) A reminder that dire predictions, even when made by experts, are not always destiny.

Consumers Are Ringing in the Holidays Far More Cheery About the Economy (Tim Smart, U.S. News) Is positive economic news starting to have an impact?

Worker Voice

Management, Take Notice — Employees Have the Upper Hand (Emily Peck, Axios) “The tight labor market is the backdrop to all the union action we’ve been reporting on for the past year or so — why UPS drivers got a great deal without striking and UAW workers just ratified the best contract they’ve seen in decades.” Sure, but if this were a given, why would there have been negotiations at all? Workers continue to push for progress.

Microsoft Agrees to Remain Neutral in Union Campaigns (Noam Scheiber, The New York Times) The company has opened the door to corporate neutrality on union campaigns, and will work with unions to prepare for AI. “Never before in the history of these American tech giants, dating back 50 years or so ago, has one of these companies made a broad commitment to labor rights…. It is historic.” Is it also just the start of what’s needed?


A Corporate Sustainability Dilemma (Jordan Wolman, Politico) “Many sustainability professionals inside organizations are frustrated because they see themselves as change managers and change leaders, and very often the rest of the senior leadership team — what they really want the person to do is to help protect shareholder value along with everyone else… So in a way, the role of the CSO is really about this dilemma about what is the role of business in society, and how that’s playing out internally.”

In a First, Nations at Climate Summit Agree to Move Away From Fossil Fuels (Brad Plumer and Max Bearak, The New York Times) Still, we shouldn’t for a moment doubt that historic shifts in the landscape are underway.


The Highest-Earning Googlers Are So Well Paid It Would Take Decades for Ordinary People to Catch Up — but Some of Them Say They Should Earn More (Sirena Bergman, Business Insider) It can be challenging to feature Tech as a discrete section of this digest, given its ubiquity in business and society. While the Microsoft article points to progress for workers in tech, this piece highlights the economic inequality that continues to be a factor in this sector.

Reversal of Content Policies at Alphabet, Meta and X Threaten Democracy, Warn Experts (Kari Paul, The Guardian) A cheery note to end the year on? While this article looks discouraging at first, the threat posed by the loss of key personnel at these tech titans speaks to the difference that individuals in business can make. Whether it’s the health of democracy or the health of the planet, your choices matter!

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.)

. . .


Want more insights like these on business and the health of society? Sign up to receive thought leadership and updates from the Business & Society Program each month!