Long-Term Capitalism

What We’re Reading: July 2022

July 27, 2022  • 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’s selection leans into the strangeness of the “everything-is-weird” economy, where workers take on extra jobs to pay for essentials while CEOs flaunt self-deprivation.

The Economy

The Everything-Is-Weird Economy (Derek Thompson, The Atlantic) “If gas prices are plummeting, why is inflation rising? If jobs are growing, why is GDP falling? If everybody’s on vacation, why are consumers miserable?”

Workers Are Picking Up Extra Jobs Just to Pay for Gas and Food (Lauren Kaori Gurley, The Washington Post) Another more nuanced take on the question of “If jobs are growing, why is GDP falling?”

Worker Voice

Why Union Drives Are Succeeding (Ian Prasad Philbrick, The New York Times) “A key part of the story is the radicalization of the college-educated worker. You had a grinding recovery from the Great Recession followed by the pandemic.”

One Unionized. The Other Did Not. How 2 Milwaukee Cafés Were Changed by Union Drives (Andrea Hsu, NPR) This fascinating piece makes the case that the Starbucks union drives capturing news headlines were preceded by a wave of unionization drives in independently-owned coffee houses. Particularly striking is the account of the coffee shop owner who chose to listen to employees—and was transformed by doing so.


ESG Investing: Special Report (The Economist) Consisting of eight articles, this special report summarizing critiques of ESG is sure to stir up heated discussion about the field. For more on the financial costs of anti-ESG policies, see Texas Fought Against ESG. Here’s What It Cost.

ESG Reports Aren’t a Replacement for Real Sustainability (Tensie Whelan, Harvard Business Review) “Reporting metrics are the last step, not the first. So how does a company avoid the ESG disclosure morass and develop a robust sustainability strategy that improves the bottom line?” For more on bridging internal and external pressures around ESG, see ESG: Not Woke Capitalism or Greenwashing but an Employee Arena.


Wall Street Still Loves Big Tech Stocks: Analysts See Further Upside Ahead of Crucial Earnings Week (Sergei Klebnikov, Forbes) This piece presents relatively upbeat investor assessments of tech stocks’ prospects. For a more critical assessment of the market, listen to the Bloomberg podcast “Odd Lots.”

The ‘Shamanification’ of the Tech CEO (Manvir Singh, WIRED) What does it say about the pinnacle of the corporate world that CEOs increasingly adopt the self-deprivation of traditional shamans? “As long as people search for miracles, others will compete to look like miracle-workers, forever resurrecting ancient and time-tested techniques.”

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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