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’s readings explore the widening gap between workers at the frontlines of the economy and the flourishing world removed from the ravages of the virus. Could a new administration, and the start of vaccinations, mark the beginning of real change?
Who Owns Stocks? Explaining the Rise in Inequality During the Pandemic (Robert Gebeloff, The New York Times) “Bad economies usually hurt both workers and investors. Only the first part has been true this time.”
Analysis: Wall Street Cheers on Biden Stimulus Plan but Worries about the Cost (David Randall, Reuters) A snapshot of how financial markets are reading the risks and opportunities in the U.S. economy at the start of a new year—and a new administration. For more on how proposed Biden administration policies may shape the labor market, see: A $15 Minimum Wage Would Benefit 32 Million Workers, Including Many in Essential and Front-Line Positions (Alicia Adamczyk, CNBC)
Purpose of the Corporation
Larry Fink’s 2021 Letter to CEOs (Larry Fink, BlackRock) It’s here! For each of the past several years, the BlackRock CEO’s letter has made headlines with its urgings for companies to consider broader social purpose. This year’s call for change on climate may be the boldest message yet.
Google Is the Latest Company to Turn Its Facilities into Covid-19 Vaccination Sites (Siladitya Ray, Forbes) A good quick overview of how major companies are committing their resources to the nationwide Covid containment effort.
Instacart Is Firing Every Employee Who Voted to Unionize (Zoe Schiffer, The Verge) As the company eyes going public with an expected $30 billion valuation, frontline workers are fighting for health insurance and vacation time in their initial contracts.
Amazon Seeks to Postpone Alabama Unionization Vote (Sebastian Herrera, The Wall Street Journal) With workers pushing for better conditions, the tech giant now claims mail-in balloting on unionization (a pandemic-era precaution) is a reason to postpone employees’ vote on unionization.
Chips Are in Hot Demand—and That’s a Problem (Asa Fitch, Elizabeth Koh, The Wall Street Journal) A year into the pandemic, the work from home world of the cloud and broader tech shift in everything from cars to consumer electronics are driving real-world economic activity in the form of skyrocketing demand for semiconductor chips. For a deeper dive on the geopolitical ramifications of increased chip manufacturing, read: The Struggle over Chips Enters a New Phase (The Economist)
Silicon Valley Workers Have Had Enough (Ben Tarnoff and Moira Weigel, The New York Times) This month, social media companies made a decision with global ramifications: they banned Donald Trump from using their platforms. Two scholars argue this move was the result of decades-long organizing efforts that will continue to shape tech regardless of the occupant of the Oval Office.
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.)