Long-Term Capitalism

What We’re Reading: January 2020

January 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 the usefulness of economic models, putting climate-change rhetoric into action, barriers to worker participation, and more.

The Economy

The Stock Market Has Never Been This Big Relative to the Economy, Signaling It Could be Overvalued (Maggie Fitzgerald, CNBC) More than just the analysis of the current state of the US economy, this article is worth reading for an explanation of the underlying causes—courtesy of Noble Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller.

Even the Fed Struggles to Nail Down the Meaning of ‘Full Employment’ (Matthew Boesler, Bloomberg) From weak wage growth to inflation to inequality, current economic paradigms don’t fully capture current realities. If it’s time for our models to evolve, what comes next?

Purpose of the Corporation

A $7 Trillion Wall Street Powerhouse Is Finally Matching Its Climate-Change Rhetoric with Action (Heather Landy, Quartz) BlackRock CEO Larry Fink’s annual letters have made headlines in recent years with their bold declarations of corporate purpose. Yet they’ve also attracted a share of criticism—for not being followed by action. Here’s why this new move from BlackRock is different.

Airbnb’s New Compensation Plan Asks Shareholders to Share With Other Stakeholders (John D. Stoll, The Wall Street Journal) A famous disruptor now has its sights on corporate governance. The company’s public offering could be an opportunity to make a statementbut how will Wall Street react?

Worker Voice

Amazon ‘Threatens to Fire’ Climate Change Activists (BBC) After Amazon’s workers demonstrated last year, chief executive Jeff Bezos announced ambitious initiatives to lessen the country’s carbon footprint. But now the groups may be facing a powerful obstacle.

Workers Are Fired Up. But Union Participation Is Still on the Decline, New Statistics Show (Eli Rosenberg, The Washington Post) From 2017 to 2018, the number of workers in large-scale strikes grew from 25,000 to 500,000, and 2019 will likely show high numbers as well. And yet, a decades-long trend toward lower union membership continues.


I Was Google’s Head of International Relations. Here’s Why I Left (Ross LaJeunesse, Medium) Google’s motto was famously, “Don’t be evil.” This is a first-hand account of how a gap opened between stated values and practiceand the factors that made that gap widen.

Selling a Charismatic Technology (W. Patrick McCray, The Los Angeles Review of Books) How can an innovative product reinforce the status quo? A provocative review of a new book explores the answer.

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.)