Long-Term Capitalism

What We’re Reading: February 2020

February 24, 2020  • 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. This month we’re reading about financial transaction taxes, the convergence of corporate risk and political activism, the multi-faceted dominance of tech, and more.

The Economy

The Tax That Ought to Be in Every Candidate’s Platform (Antonio Weiss, Bloomberg) The idea of a financial transaction tax is having a resurgence. What is it, and how could this approach help solve the problem of funding critical expenditures like health care, education and infrastructure?

Black Workers’ Wages Are Finally Rising (Jeanna Smialek and Ben Casselman, The New York Times) More than a decade after the global financial crisis, the US economy offers some positive data in time for Black History Month 2020. Look closer, though, and the story is decidedly more complex.

Purpose of the Corporation

2020 Will be the Year when Corporate Activism and Global Political Risk Converge (Alison Tayler, Quartz) “In 2020 and beyond, companies will need to decide whose interests they should prioritize.” As questions of values join with incentives, culture, and strategy, balancing stakeholder interests on a global stage will become increasingly challenging. How will this change what it means to do business?

New Firms for a New Era (Dani Rodrik, Project Syndicate) “In reality, a job is much more than a source of income. It is a crucial part of an adult’s personal and social identity.” How would the economic “theory of the firm” change if this insight were seriously applied?

Worker Voice

The Great Google Revolt (Noam Scheiber and Kate Conger, The New York Times Magazine) A harrowing read on the challenges faced by employees trying to keep their company from taking on projects they view as unethical.

Kickstarter Workers Vote to Form First Union in Tech Industry (April Glaser, NBC News) A story we’ve been following in What We’re Reading. This latest development may have industry-wide implications.


We Need to Talk About ‘Cloud Neutrality’ (Molly Wood, Wired Magazine) A provocative read: “The internet is no longer the essential enabler of the tech economy. That title now belongs to the cloud.”

How to Make Sense of the Latest Tech Surge (The Economist) A stunning statistic: the shares of America’s top five tech firms are worth roughly the same as Germany’s entire stock market. Perhaps more stunning still: the argument that these firms may have yet further to grow—as does the backlash they face.

For more on our work to align business with the long-term good of society, sign up for our monthly newsletter 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.)